When off-roading, bigger tires provide better grip for an easier ride. With the release of the Jeep JL in 2018, many off-roading enthusiasts wonder just how big of tires can you use?
The new Jeep JL is compatible with 35-inch tires as is. However, without some modifications clearance between the tire and the inner fender will be minimal. This will greatly impact your ability to traverse any geography bumpier than a gravel road. Adjustments will need to be made for off-road use.
If you are eager to try out some larger tires on your new Jeep JL but hesitant to deal with any rubbing, then you have come to the right place. Here you will find everything you need to know about running a Jeep JL on 35-inch tires and how to adjust your suspension. Let’s get started!
35 Inch Tires on Stock Suspension
The previous Jeep Wrangler Rubicons were not designed to run any tires bigger than a 33 inch. Anything larger and there was significant contact between the tires and the fender.
With the release of the Jeep Wrangler JL, off-roaders received what they had been asking for. The 2018 Jeep Rubicon JL is designed with higher fenders, better steering, and improved suspension. While the improvements to steering and suspension were a welcomed addition, it was the raised fenders that had so many excited.
Because of the higher fenders, the Jeep Rubicon JL was finally capable of fitting bigger tires. With bigger tires, one can take their Jeep over bigger obstacles.
Although Jeep claims the new JL is perfectly capable of running 35-inch tires, many enthusiasts are skeptical. And for good reason too.
It’s true, the Jeep Wrangler JL is fully capable of fitting 35-inch tires. Unfortunately, the larger tires still fit fairly snug inside the wheel wells on stock suspension. Driving in town on 35-inch tires without any modifications is perfectly acceptable; however, if you plan on exploring past where the road ends there is going to be an issue.
In town driving, you will notice some light rubbing but nothing to get too worked up over. On the other hand, off-roading conditions will result in significant rubbing that is likely to damage both the tire and the wheel well.
So how big of a tire can you actually run on a Jeep Wrangler JL without doing any modifications and avoid rubbing?
On stock suspension, the largest tire the Jeep Rubicon JL should run is a 33 inch. This will provide plenty of clearance between the fender and the tire. It will also give you a better turning radius (although not too different).
If a 33 inch tires is just too small, there is the potential to bump up to a 34. This will not leave as much room for movement as the 33 inch tires but will be less likely to bump and rub than the 35 inch tires. Even then, you may still consider using a lift with the 34 inch tires.
35 Inch Tires with a Lift
Running smaller tires is beneficial if you are looking for more maneuverability and better gas mileage; however, the entire purpose of the Jeep Rubicon was to be an off-roading vehicle.
Off-roaders are not interested in dainty tires and a slight bump in fuel efficiency. Rather, they are looking to be able to climb to new heights and explore new areas. With bigger tires, this can be accomplished easier.
Therefore it is important to have the right tire size to help them reach those goals. This is likely why Jeep raised the fender height on the Wrangler JL, to ensure drivers could fit the tires they needed.
Unfortunately, raising the fenders was not enough to perfectly accommodate 35 inch tires.
In order to use this size of tire for off-roading, you will need to install a lift kit. Worried your Jeep will sit too high above the ground with a lift kit? Luckily, to accommodate 35 inch tires, the Jeep Wrangler JL only needs about one to two inches of lift. This change in height will barely be noticeable.
Even better, lift kits of this size can typically be purchased for less than three hundred dollars.
Watch this video to see how the Jeep Rubicon JL looks and runs with a two inch lift kit in the video below!
By using a spacer lift kit, you are able to maintain the quality of ride while improving the clearance your tire receives.
If you are looking to lift the vehicle for any other reason than adding larger tires, you may need to consider an alternative type of lift kit.
Learn about the different types here: What is the Difference Between a Lift Kit and Leveling Kit?
For any tire larger than a 35 inch, consider moving up to a three or four inch lift kit. Keep in mind that a larger lift kit will also come with a taller vehicle height and a larger price tag. If both of those sound unappealing, reconsider how big of a tire your Jeep JL actually needs.
Check out this table to see how big a lift you need for your tire size!
|Size of Tire
|Maximum Lift Needed
|1 to 2 inches
|2 to 3 inches
|5 to 6 inches
Although you are able to lift your Jeep six inches, you may not want to. Especially if you are off-roading, you will find yourself on frequently unlevel ground. With the higher lift, you are at a greater risk of rollover.
Stick to around two or three inches maximum lift if you plan on taking your Jeep JL off the road in order to have fun and be safe.
Jeep JL Fender Removal
If you are considering removing the fenders to make room for the larger tires, you better think twice.
Most states require that all vehicles have some sort of fender on all four tires. The purpose of this is to reduce the spray of mud and water. Fenders will also protect fellow motorists from any rocks or debris that get picked up. In fact, most states require that the fender covers the entire width of the tires.
If altering the fenders is how you plan to fit larger tires on your Jeep JL, be sure to research your local automotive restrictions or risk facing a hefty ticket. Overall, it is probably better to use a lift kit to solve any clearance issues you have while using larger tires and to leave the other vehicle design to Jeep.
The inner lining of the fender could be safely removed to free up some space, but it will not open up too much room for your tires.
That being said, there are a few different after market fenders that can increase clearance without the need of a lift kit.
Check out Extreme Terrain to see all the different fender flares available to give your Jeep JL more space for bigger tires. You may need to do some independent measurements to make sure the fender you purchase does in fact provide more clearance.
Effects of Tire Rub
While the Jeep Wrangler JL is capable of fitting 35-inch tires, the larger tires will rub inside the fenders. This may not sound like a big deal–and in many cases, it is not–but it could potentially become a dangerous situation.
A little bit of tire rub will not cause a lot of damage to your tire and your vehicles; however, with the amount of 35-inch tires rub on the Rubicon JL, especially while off-roading, there will likely be extensive damage.
The longer your tires rub the more likely you are to wind up with a hole that leaks out air or worse, a punctured sidewall. Rapid air loss can be extremely dangerous, especially if it occurs at higher speeds. If a tire goes flat while off-roading, you may find yourself quite literally stuck. Even though you have a tire jack and a spare available, you may not be in a position to use those.
While repairing a flat tire does not cost too much, replacing the whole tire (likely more than just one tire) can run up a bill.
Aside from increased tire wear and tear, lack of clearance could damage your fenders.
Let’s say you are out driving through some rocky hills. As you drive over a large rock, your front tire falls into a bit of a divot. The larger tire is likely to smash into the fender breaking it.
Although not a very expensive repair, it is a rather sill one. And as mentioned earlier, you could receive a citation for not having a proper fender.
So the moral of the story here is to run 35-inch tires on your Jeep Wrangler JL, but run them with the proper lift. This will keep your tires in better shape longer and avoid any frivolous repairs or embarrassing calls for help.
A lift kit is fairly inexpensive and some can even help improve your Jeep’s off-roading abilities and create space for your more rugged, larger tires.