Friday, April 22, 2011

31 Inch Tires on a Jeep Wrangler TJ

You might say "Bill, why are you showing me the underside of your Jeep?".

Well, it's a Jeep Thing...
You wouldn't understand.

This is actually the Passenger Side, front tire.  If you're in the United Kingdom, this is the Driver's Side Front Tyre.

I had to replace the tires on my Jeep.  I have had 42,000 trouble free miles on him, and yes, a Jeep Wrangler is a him.  He's my third Jeep, all of which have been trouble free. 

I say "I Had" to replace the tires because the car felt unsafe to drive.  It still had a little more life left in them, but I was beginning to hydroplane and I was not feeling safe on the road.  I'd take it over 65 (Speed limits on the turnpike are 70 MPH in parts of South Florida, and they change tires at 80 here) and he'd start to vibrate.

I've always been a fan of going up a tire size from what the factory put on the car, but this will be my last Jeep I suspect so I wanted to go as big as I could without doing silly things like lifting the body.  After all, the car is going to remain on the road until I get up to the Pines.  I want to do a lot of things when I go back to New Jersey, and Apple Pie Hill will see me again if I can.

The problem is that there's a discussion of whether it can be done or not. I am here to say:

Tires measured 31x10.5x15 will fit on the original rims on a 2002 Jeep Wrangler X with minor rubbing on a very tight turning radius or severe body flex.

Why did I phrase it like that?  Because that was what I got.  When I cocked the wheel all the way to the side, I would have the front tire rub against the undercarriage.

This picture is how to fix it so there will be NO RUBBING.

Get from the hardware no more than 6 stainless steel washers with a 3/8th inch center hole.  I used 2, one on each side.

Find your socket wrench and your 9/16th inch socket, and for back up a 9/16th inch crescent wrench or a stout adjustable wrench.

Set all that aside.

Unless your Jeep is very new, you will probably have some rust on that steer stop bolt (see detail above).  That is why in the picture, there is oil around it.  This is actually just a bolt that is stuck into some solid steel, so you will have no oil leakage unless you have an oops.

Turn the wheel on the car so you can get to the bolt.   I was able to get to the passenger side without climbing all over myself to get to it with the wheel turned all the way to the right.   Reverse that for the driver's side.

Put a few drops of a good penetrating oil on where the bolt meets the metal.  Most everyone has some around the house, I used some Tri Flow simply because I use that on my skate bearings.  

Give it a little time to soak in and try to loosen the bolt with your wrench.  If it doesn't come loose, you'll have to use a hammer or a breaker bar to apply some leverage.   Mine came loose with 10 taps each.  It wasn't strictly siezed, but it was very tight.

If the bolt comes off, then put one washer on the bolt and tighten it back up just like you found it.  I went about 3/4 turn past hand tight.

Repeat for the other wheel.

To test, get in the car, drive it out and stop.  Turn the wheel all the way to one side.  If you rubbed, you need more washers.   Repeat for the other wheel.

This took me 5 minutes to put the oil on.  I let it soak overnight, then finished the job the next day in under 15 minutes.

With one washer, I have no rubbing at all.  Even when hitting that speed bump out on NE 7th Avenue at the speed limit, or turning into a parking lot.  You may need more depending on how badly your springs have sagged.


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