Tested: What It Takes to Run 35s and No Lift on the Rubicon JL [Video]
It’s been over 15 years since Jeep unveiled its flagship off-road vehicle—the Wrangler Rubicon. While each rendition of the Rubicon has received more off-road-oriented improvements over the previous generation, the latest JL comes with a feature many "wheels" have been wanting for years—highline fenders. It’s such a simple but brilliant factory upgrade.
By moving up the fenders a few inches from the standard model, the Rubicons are designed to accommodate a larger tire with little to no lift. This equates to a lower center of gravity and a much easier vehicle to move in and out of. From the factory, Jeep states you can fit a 35-inch-tall tire on the JL Rubicon without a lift. In that same breath, the company also states that if you plan on actually using the Jeep off-road, you’ll need a 2-inch lift.
We liked the idea of running 35s on our 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, but we wanted to see if we could do it (and wheel) without lifting the vehicle. In the video above, we dive into just what is needed to accomplish this goal. Below, you can read even more about the challenges associated with what it takes to properly run 35s with the stock Rubicon flares.
To take all of the guesswork out of the equation, we started our experiment off by pulling all of the coils from the Jeep and bolting on a set of 35-inch-tall Nitto Ridge Grapplers. Here the Jeep is resting on the stock bumpstops. Yes, you can actually drive it like this. Although, we don’t recommend it. Surprisingly, the tires cleared fine. Case closed? Not exactly.
While we had no trouble clearing the tires with the Jeep on level ground, we wanted to see what would happen in a more realistic trail scenario where the Jeep would be forced to articulate. Here, we found that the tires were pressing heavily against the outside of the inner fenders. This contact was even worse in the front.
To prevent the tires from contacting the flares, we had two options. The first, we could ditch the inner fenders and free up some room. The second, we could raise the bumpstop location on the axle. We opted for bumpstops since we like the stock flares. This particular front bumpstop set comes from JKS Manufacturing. What drew us to these particular bumpstops was the fact that they were stackable. This meant we could easily dial in the bump amount we needed. This kit comes with a ¾-, 1 ¼-, and 2-inch aluminum spacer set along with hardware.
Bump in the Back
Out back, there were less options in the bump adjustability department, so we ended up with JKS’s 2-inch bumpstop riser that it uses in its 2.5-inch J-Flex suspension system. These bolt directly to the axle using existing holes and don’t require you to pull the coils out to install.
We enjoyed how truly dual-purpose the Ridge Grapplers were on our previous setup, so we opted for the hybrid all-terrain in a 35x12.50R17. These are wrapped around a set of 17x9 VR-501 wheels from Venom Rex. The flow-forged aluminum wheels are extremely lightweight and strong, making them an excellent fit for the JL. While there are few color options in this wheel, we liked the highland bronze finish the best.
Two inches of up travel is what we ultimately lost by adding the bumpstop spacers on the axle. This isn’t extremely noticeable on the highway, but off-road, it can be felt. Airing down improves the ride, but it’s not a great replacement for travel.
One thing that’s definitely worth noting is that aside from a small hit to our fuel economy, adding the 35-inch-tall tire set wasn’t a big shock to the Jeep’s overall performance. Power still feels great and we still manage to hold overdrive on the interstate. We did add on a Taser JL to adjust the speedometer for the taller tires.
The amount of backspacing and tire type will also factor in to just how well your 35 and no lift setup will work. Our 35-inch-tall Ridge Grapplers run more true-to-size than some of the “other guy's” 35s. Even with the bumpstops installed, clearances were very tight. Keep in mind, these are essentially the same size bumpstops you would get with most JL 2- to 2.5-inch lifts.
To Lift or Not to Lift?
It’s pretty clear why Jeep recommends installing a 2-inch lift for 35s. It has less to do with the lift being a necessity and more to do with the need for moderating the up travel so the tires won’t rub off-road. Yes, you can run 35s without a lift on a JL Rubicon, but if you are going to wheel it on anything more than a gravel road, you can plan on the tires contacting the fenders. For the 118-inch wheelbase on the Unlimited JL, moving up 2 inches would help with ground clearance, while giving you back the up travel you lost.
So, what’s next? We wanted to see just what it would take to run 35s without lifting the JL or modifying the fenders. We believe we’ve more than accomplished that goal. However, we don’t love the ride quality loss associated with the bumps, so we’re going to look for a better way to get our ride quality back, without drastically changing the suspension system. So, be sure to look for that article coming soon.
Want to know what all the fuss is about? Get a real-world review of the all-new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.
Top 13 First Modifications We Would Make to the All-New 2018 Jeep JL Wrangler
Whenever a new Jeep Wrangler is introduced, enthusiasts and the aftermarket rush to be the first to make modifications, and the all-new ’18 Jeep Wrangler JL is no different. The challenge is identifying what should be improved upon and what can be left alone. The modifications needed for the outgoing Wrangler model may not necessarily be what’s needed on the new Wrangler. For example, the new JL Rubicon is said to fit 35-inch tires stock, it has a massive 1.58-inch–diameter tie rod and draglink, and is available with an optional off-road¬–worthy steel front bumper. Because of the bigger wheel openings, lift kit sizes for the JL will surely need to be different than what’s available for the JK. It seems as though many of the things on the JK that had to be addressed by the aftermarket have been addressed from the factory with the JL. With all this in mind, we decided to spend a week in the new Wrangler JL and look at it with fresh eyes to come up with the top 13 modifications we would make first. We spent our on- and off-road wheel time in a Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon model, which will likely be one of the more popular trim levels for dirt-driving enthusiasts. However, many of the modifications we have listed here will work on the other JL trim levels as well.
Pretty much every 4x4 that hits the dirt should have some type of rocker area protection. How robust this body protection needs to be will depend on how you plan to use the vehicle, and the same is true with the new JL Wrangler. The factory Rubicon rocker guards are fine for general off-road use and protection against parking lot door dings and ghost-riding shopping carts. They attach at the body, so they really are not designed to support the weight of the entire Jeep when regularly sliding over boulders and rock ledges. If aggressive off-roading is in your plans, you’ll want to add rocker guards that incorporate the body mounts or attach directly to the frame. This will better protect the aluminum doors and steel rocker area of the JL.
2:No Lift Tire Size
The factory JL Rubicon tires are 285/70R17, which measure out to around a 33-inch tire. With no lift, the manufacturer says that 35s will fit for street use, but with the suspension fully articulated off-road there will be some tire rub on the inner wheelwells both front and rear. We think you could get away with bumping up the tire diameter one to two sizes to a 305/70R17 or 305/75R17 on the stock wheels with only minor inner fender contact at full suspension articulation. Of course, if you are willing to remove the plastic inner wheelwells and lower the bumpstops or live with significant tire rub off-road, you could surely fit a 35x12.50 or 315/70R17 on the stock Rubicon wheels.
3:Fitting 35x12.50 or 37x12.50 Tires
With the generous wheel openings, it seems natural that the Rubicon model should have 35-inch tires. In order to cleanly fit 35x12.50 or 315/70R17 tires both on- and off-road, a 2-inch lift kit could be implemented. However, this seems to leave the wheel openings looking empty. We think a 1-inch lift or 1-inch bumpstop extensions could be used to keep the tires out of the wheelwells. You might be able to retain the factory Rubicon wheels, but you’ll likely want wheels with around 1-inch less backspacing. Fitting 37-inch tires will require a 2-inch lift, bumpstop extensions, wheels with less backspacing or wheel spacers, and probably some inner fender trimming.
4:Rubicon Flare Swap
The factory high-line fender flares are part of the reason the 285/70R17 tires fit on the Rubicon. These factory flares increase the size of the wheel opening and could be bolted onto the non-Rubicon models to provide more tire clearance.
5:Cut to Fit Flares
There will surely be those that want to step into taller and wider tire and wheel packages without modifying the suspension. This looks like it could be done without much cutting. The fender flares are made from two pieces. You should be able to remove the plastic rivets and take off the lower portion of the flares along with the marker lights on the front flares. This would provide an additional 2-inches of outer fender flare clearance. Of course, you’ll still have to either trim or remove the inner fender liners because they will no longer have any support along the outer edge.
If no tire size increase is planned, we’d have a really hard time messing with the JL suspension given the smooth ride and great performance on- and off-road. However, one area that could use some improvement in the dirt is the shocks. If you like wheeling around the desert at speed, you’ll quickly overheat the factory shocks. We’d like to see some bolt-on, lightly-valved, position-sensitive shocks be made available for the JL. It shouldn’t be too tough; there is plenty of room and all four shocks now feature heavy-duty eye mounting at both ends. We’re thinking larger-diameter adjustable external or internal bypass shocks would be a great addition to an otherwise stock JL suspension system.
The factory stamped steel skidplates will provide ample protection in most off-road scenarios; however, regular rock contact will take its toll on the light-duty OE fuel tank and transfer case skidplates. If you foresee granite in the future of your JL’s underside, the main structure of the original transfer case/transmission skidplate will benefit from a heavy-duty replacement. Real bashers will want a skidplate that extends forward to protect the automatic transmission lines, exhaust crossover, and engine oil pan. We’d love to see someone make use of UHMW material on the skidplates to help the JL slide more easily over obstacles. Also, even though the suspension control arm brackets on the front axle are tucked up relatively well, they would benefit from some weld-on skidplate gussets.
The JL front and rear driveshaft architecture is very similar to the driveshafts found under the JK. The rear driveshaft features CVs on both ends and the front driveshaft has a CV on the transfer case end and a U-joint on the axle end. In most circumstances, the CV joint is actually a better design than a U-joint. However, the CV-style driveshafts are far less tolerant of joint bind and being dragged over boulders. Taller lifts, increased wheel travel, and rocky wheeling will generally be best accomplished with front and rear aftermarket driveshafts with U-joints at both ends. The good news is that you no longer need to modify the exhaust for driveshaft clearance when lifting the Wrangler. The factory JL exhaust should clear the front driveshaft fine with several inches of lift.
The new ZF 8HP eight-speed automatic transmission in the JL really makes great use of the power available from the 3.6L V-6, so much so that we think the Rubicon 4.10:1 ratio axle gears should be good for up to 35-inch tires. Bumping up to 37-inch tires will likely require 4.88:1 or 5.13:1 ratio axle gears, which are not yet available. The jury is still out on what axle gears would be needed for the optional 2.0L four-cylinder gas turbo engine and 3.0L diesel.
As with all modern 4x4s, the engine and automatic transmission performance is extremely dependent on vehicle speed input. Altering the tire diameter and axle gear ratio will cause the input speed to be incorrect, which can lead to much more than a false speedometer reading. Results include incorrect transmission shift points, poor shifts, and even transmission overheating and failure. The cure is simple. Correct the speedometer so the engine and transmission computers receive accurate speed info. This can be done several ways, but it’s typically done with an aftermarket controller that plugs into the OBDII port. As of this writing, there aren’t any products available to make the correction on the JL, but we are sure they will be available soon.
The all-new Dana 44 axles found in the front and rear of the JL Rubicon are said to have been engineered with up to 35-inch tires in mind. The massive 2.75-inch front and 3.12-inch rear axletubes will certainly provide more beef underneath. One area of discontent for many Jeep enthusiasts is with the JL center axle disconnect (CAD) system, and rightly so. The YJ CAD system left a bad taste in the mouth of Jeepers as far back as 30 years ago. However, the problematic YJ system was vacuum operated. The JL uses an electric solenoid, similar to the front axle disconnect found in current-model Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks as well as many other modern 4x4s. The real advantage most people forget is that the JL front driveshaft and ring-and-pinion will not be spinning when the transfer case is shifted into two-wheel drive. This will reduce drivetrain wear and vibration and increase fuel economy. Also, spinning bent and unbalanced front driveshafts in the outgoing JK have been known to cause the transfer case to split in half on the highway. Regardless of if the JL front axle disconnect is a problem, we’re sure the aftermarket will offer CAD delete axlehousings, axleshafts, and other products to keep everyone happy. Although, we would probably save our money for a while to see if the JL CAD system actually becomes problematic.
The one thing we really hoped the new JL Rubicon would come with was a factory air compressor that could be used to inflate tires, air mattresses, and recreational floats. Fortunately, the aftermarket is flush with many different air compressors. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of space under the JL hood for accessories. Even a dual battery kit will be a tight fit. We’d like to see someone make use of the removable plastic tray in the rear trunk area. The tray could be easily replaced with a steel or aluminum block-off plate that houses an electric air compressor and a small tank, which could be tapped into from the rear of the Jeep with a chucked air hose.
The optional LED lighting group includes LED headlights which are significantly more useful at night than some of the headlights used on past Jeep models. This lighting package will set you back a cool $895. It helps night vison immensely, but still does little to really reach out long distances into the dark off-road. For lighting up the immediate area around the Jeep, consider some aftermarket LED lights mounted to the front bumper or anywhere you need to see. For high-speed wheeling or if you want to see way out into the night, look for some spot beam HID lights.
The Jeep Wrangler JL is the latest and the greatest in the Jeep world. Some may have a bit of an argument on the greatest part of that but that is besides the point. The Jeep JL offers Wrangler lovers a new body style along with some cool new options.
Myself, along with a number of other Wrangler fans have had a number of questions about the specific features that make this new Jeep JL so much better than the Jeep Wrangler JK. If I am going to trade my JK I want to be sure that I’m getting a good upgrade. In this article I will share the answer I found to one of my many questions which is “what tires come stock on a 2019 Jeep Wrangler JL?”
What Type of Tires Come on a Stock 2019 Jeep Wrangler JL Rubicon?
Most avid Jeepers, when they purchase a new Wrangler, prefer to get the vehicle stock. This provides them a blank slate to make any modifications, if any, that they want to make. A common question asked by the Jeep community about the new Jeep JL is “What kind of tires are on a Stock Jeep Wrangler JL?”
The answer to this question is “it depends”; yeah thats probably not the answer you were looking for. But it is true. The type of tire that you get is largely dependent on where you buy your new Wrangler JL. For example, a new JL Rubicon from one dealership may come stock with Nitto Trail Grappler tires while the same JL from another dealership may come stock with Cooper Discoverer tires.
As an example I reached out to a local North Carolina Jeep Dealership and asked about what tires their 2019 Jeep Wrangler JL Rubicon came with off the lot. They informed me that their JL Rubicon’s were equipped with 33 inch BF-Goodrich All-Terrains.
What Size Tires Come Stock on a 2019 Jeep JL Rubicon?
Whereas the type of tire that comes stock on a Jeep JL Rubicon can vary by dealership, the size of the tire on the new Rubicon will be the same just about anywhere. Most stock JL Rubicons will come stock with 33-inch tires. This is a slight upgrade from a smaller tire and will give you even more advantage in off-road situations or just make the Jeep look awesome on the road!
If you have any more questions about stock tires on a 2019 Jeep Wrangler JL Rubicon, please comment below!
If you are looking to understand the maximum tire size and rim combo for your stock Jeep without a lift then this is the article for you. Let’s face it larger tires simply look amazing and adds an element of ruggedness to almost any 4WD. However, you are somewhat restricted with a stock suspension on your Jeep especially if your intention is to take it off-road. So let’s see what the largest tire size is for a stock Jeep Wrangler.
What are the biggest tires you can fit on a stock Jeep Wrangler? The biggest diameter tire you can fit on a Jeep Wrangler with a stock suspension is 33 inches. The common 33-inch tire sizes are any of the following:
Determining the largest tire size for your Jeep Wrangler is also governed by what you intend on doing with your Jeep. For off-road applications, the 33-inch tire will be too big for maximum articulation (flex) without any scrub on the body. However, for highway, mall-crawling, and the occasional gravel roads, 33-inch tires will suffice.
There are other factors to take into consideration when deciding on tire sizes. These include but are not limited to:
- Year model of your Jeep
- Body shape
- Suspension setup
- Centre of gravity
- Intended application
Let’s take a deeper look into the pros and cons of fitting bigger wheels to your Jeep and what you need to take into consideration before you proceed with the tire upgrade.
Year Model of your Jeep
So being a Jeep owner, you are probably aware that not all Jeeps are created equal. This is a major consideration when determining a big tire upgrade on your Jeep. The tire that will easily fit on a stock Jeep Rubicon might not necessarily fit as snug on a TJ or JL model.
Why is this the case?
Well, every Jeep, like most car models, is built for a specific application and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. So what might be a relatively straightforward fit for one model will require some minor or even major modifications to another.
The Wrangler JK is produced stock with various tire sizes depending on the model Wrangler you buy; Rubicon, Sahara, Sport, etc. The stock tire sizes are: 255/75R17 (32″x10″), 225/75R16 (29″x9″) and 255/70R18 (32″x10″). Now the Rubicon, which was built for heavy-duty off-road applications even in stock form will easily be able to accommodate a bigger tire without modification since the body and suspension are primed for off-road use and serious articulation.
If your intention is to run heavy off-road trails which will require maximum suspension articulation, then the 33” tire on a stock suspension will not work the best. You will be wise to upgrade your suspension first to accommodate the bigger wheels and allow for maximum flex through and over obstacles.
Also bear in mind, when venturing off-road you are advised to be well prepared. This involves carrying all the necessary safety and recovery equipment. You might even go so far as to start fitting protection to your Jeep in the form of steel off-road bumpers, roof racks to carry accessories, and recovery gear. Communication equipment and other essentials all add weight and before you know it the stock suspension load-carrying ability will be maxed out.
Hence, an upgraded suspension will allow you to not only increase your load carrying capabilities but also stiffen up the ride for more off-road stability.
Watch them fit 35’s on a JL:
What is this backspacing all about?
The backspacing measurement is an important consideration in the fitment of a bigger wheel and tire to the vehicle.
Backspacing is described as the distance from the hub mounting surface to the inside lip of the wheel (measured in inches). Increased backspacing puts the tire closer to the center of the truck. Hence a rim with a closer to 0 or negative offset will sit further out and allow you to fit wider tires.
Centre of Gravity
When you add bigger tires you are essentially increasing the center of gravity. What does that mean?
Well, we’ve all heard the saying, “what goes up, must come down” meaning the force of gravity pulls everything downwards. Gravity acts in complex ways and what that means for your 4WD is that a high center of gravity can make things turn and topple over, especially if they are high up and unbalanced.
SO, with that being said, adding more height to your 4WD makes it more prone to toppling over, if you do not compensate with a wider tire and wheel with a more negative offset to decrease the backspacing to create more stability.
Adding wider rims and tires will make it handle a lot better off-road and look sexier too!!
Yes, as mentioned in the introduction, a 33-inch tire will do just fine if it’s purely for aesthetics and you never intend to do hard rocky trails. Yes, the 33inch will do just fine in that case where maximum articulation is not an issue.
Largest Tires on a Stock Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
So the Rubicon comes out stock with a 33-inch tire. This means you should be able to safely upgrade to a bigger tire without any dramas and still be well within the manufactures specs. Your speedo should still be reading accurately and no strain on drivetrain components or transmission.
There are several Jeep Rubicon owners who fitted 315/70R17 tires and went “wheeling” disconnected with no rubbing or body scrub. Some have fitted 35/12.5R17 and rubbed off-road without disconnecting.
For those interested, here is a link where they fit 37-inch tires with minimum modifications, see below.
Biggest tires on a stock Jeep Wrangler JK
So as mentioned previously, it’s not only the wheel diameter that needs to be considered but also the wheel width, which is also affected by the offset of the rim. The backspacing comes into play again. The backspacing on stock JK wheels is 6.25″. Which means that the mounting surface of the wheel is 6.25” from the rear lip of the wheel
So you could, and many have fitted 33-inch tires on a stock JK, again depending on what the intended use was for, but there could be scrubbing against the fenders and inner wheel arch. Disconnecting the front sway bars most definitely results in some scrub against the body.
So, if you want to fit a larger but not wider tire on the stock suspension and still have no issues off-road and achieve full flex without scrubbing you are pretty much limited to 255/80/17. This is basically the same width as the stock JK tire but with a higher sidewall. This will also give you increased ground clearance since your Jeep will be sitting higher off the ground and improved clearance on the diffs and lower hanging components.
The bottom line here, if you fit tires much wider than the 11” tire on stock wheels, your chances of making contact with your rear sway bar end link is high. Here fitting wheel spacers will rectify this issue.
Biggest tires on a stock Jeep Wrangler TJ
The biggest tire you can fit on a stock Jeep Wrangler TJ is a 31×10.50. That is on a stock suspension and stock wheels and no other modifications. With this size, you can run comfortably off-road without causing any damage even during full articulation.
In the event there is some body scrub at full lock, simply adding a few washers on the steering stops can rectify this.
If aesthetics is what you are after and have no intention of going off-road then you could squeeze up to 33 inches on the stock JK. However, you will not be able to venture off-road without a lift.
Rubicon Express 2.5″ Suspension Lift Kit – RE7141
TeraFlex Body Lift Kit – 4152100
General Tire 33×10.50R15LT Tire, Grabber X3 – 4506840000
Rugged Ridge Wheel Spacers – 15201.12
Fit 37’s with the least modifications
We know Jeeps are very versatile vehicles and the extent of your modifications runs as deep as your pocket allows. So basically you can get away with a lot with Wranglers since they are the perfect platform for modification and upgrades. It’s just how they were built
Also, before carrying out any tire upgrade to your Jeep, ask yourself what your intended purpose is with the vehicle since this answer will allow you to either fit larger tires or limit you without any additional suspension mods first. If you follow the guidelines above and you should be safe.
Tire rubicon size jl stock
.Stock JL Wrangler - 33x11.5R17 - 17x9 Wheels - W\u0026T Fitment
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