Quick Guide: Jeep Wrangler 35-inch A/T tires

Last month one of my best friends bought a really nice, really loaded Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. It’s been two decades since he sold his CJ-7 and he once again got the Jeep thirst that he needed to quench. Seeing that he got his black JL with almost every imaginable option, I was expecting him to keep quiet for bit. That didn’t happen.

The thing with Jeeps is, it’s that there are so many things one can do to them that it’s hard to leave them stock. There are some things that improve the look, others off-road prowess, some add functionality, few that improve thing Jeep just didn’t get right, and other accessories that are just gaudy. Because he actually ventures off pavement, the first thing I suggested that he gets was an air compressor. That hasn’t happen yet but he did get some rubber floor mats, a shorter antenna, and some other minor crap.

He really loves his Jeep but for the past week he’s been going on about new tires. The Rubicon comes with excellent BFGoodrich KO2 all-terain tires in size 285/70-17 (33″), load C. It’s a really excellent tire, I have them on my 4Runner and I can’t think of a person I know who has KO2s that doesn’t like them. It’s a quiet, comfortable tire that looks great, gets excellent traction in all weather and conditions. Unless you’re rock climbing or constantly muddin’, it’s an excellent choice.

But for my friend, and many like him, that isn’t good enough. He wants bigger. Because bigger does look so much better. Because bigger has more sidewall, more traction, and more of all things tire. Jeep knew people would put bigger tires on their Wranglers/Gladiators, so they left enough space under the fenders to fit 35s. I can’t underscore how insane this is – not too long ago fitting 35s under a Wrangler required a 4″ suspension lift that made the Wrangler somewhat miserable to drive on daily basis. Now, just bolt them bad boys on – amazing.

After ignoring him for a bit, he finally whined enough for me to get to work. Below is a list of 35″ tires (and one 34’ish inch) that should fit on the JL Wrangler without a lift, and without any, or much, rubbing. I limited my search to quality all-terrain (A/T) tires. Tires that had good reviews and feedback on review sites and used forums. and tires that looked cool, too. Any of those tires should be good for anyone driving on roads in all seasons, with occasional off-road excursions. But those who are into rock climbing or serious muddin’ should look elsewhere.

Tire Brand and Name Size Street Name Load Actual Size Weight Price Website
Height Width
BFGoodrich KO2 285/70-17 33″ A/T C 32.8″ 11.5″ 51 lbs. null bfgoodrichtires.com
BFGoodrich KO2 35×12.50-17 35″ A/T E 34.5″ 12.5″ 66 lbs. $300.99 bfgoodrichtires.com
BFGoodrich KO2 315/70-17 35″ A/T C* 34.4″ 12.7″ 65 lbs. $265.91 bfgoodrichtires.com
BFGoodrich KO2 315/70-17 35″ A/T E 34.4″ 12.7″ 65 lbs. $290.99 bfgoodrichtires.com
Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac 35X12.50-17 35″ A/T E 34.8″ 12.5″ 68 lbs. $311.99 Goodyear.com
Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac 315/70-17 35″ A/T D 34.4″ 12.7″ 61 lbs. $313.99 Goodyear.com
Nitto Ridge Grappler** 305/70-17 34″ (?) A/T E 33.86″ 12.24″ 68.6 lbs. $296.00 Nittotire.com
Nitto Ridge Grappler** 315/70-17 35″ A/T E 34.41″ 12.7″ 70.8 lbs. $296.00 Nittotire.com
Nitto Ridge Grappler** 35×12.50-17 35″ A/T E 34.76″ 12.52″ 75.5 lbs. $311.00 Nittotire.com
Toyo Open Country AT II 35×12.50-17 35″ A/T E 34.5″ 12.5″ 61 lbs. $302.63 ToyoTires.com

 

Caveats, because there are always caveats:

  • * – The BFG 315/70-17 KO2 tire in load range C is the OEM tire for the Ford Raptor. Its maximum load is 2,535 lbs. The original 285/70 tire on the Rubicon has a maximum load of 2755 lbs. Therefore I don’t think this would be a good choice for this application.
  • ** – Nitto makes the Terra Grappler G2, a damn good tire, standard on the 4Runner TRD Pro. But it does not look as cool as the other tires listed here. Other than that, there’s nothing wrong with it.
My suggestion to my friend is the BFG KO2 tire in the 35″ x12.50″ size. They are one of the lighter ones, ever so slightly narrower than the 315s, and they have an excellent reputation. Some forum members mentioned that it may rub at times, like at max compression and full turn – I guess we will have to find out. And I told him to make sure to order all five tires – don’t want to be the poser who didn’t upgrade their spare. With that, I had a few concerns:
  • Will the factory jack be tall enough to raise the vehicle with these bigger tires?
  • Will tailgate reinforcement be needed with the extra 10 pounds of tire hanging off it?
  • Will a third brake light bracket raiser be needed?
  • How much will the ride suffer?
  • How much hit will the fuel economy take?

I don’t have the answer to those questions at this time and I don’t have the time to research them now. To be continued.

31 Comments

  1. 2535 vs. 2755 lbs. per tire: on a Rubicon whose GVWR is two tons below that, why are you concerned about overloading the tires?

    1. Yeah the high load of the OE tire isn’t driven by weight needs, it is driven by the desired tire size. If it can hold up a Raptor it isn’t going to be a problem on the Jeep.

    2. I saw your comment but I couldn’t respond last night. My first instinct was not to go below the OEM level… but I see your point and I’ll investigate it.

      1. In Australia every vehicle has a minimum load and speed rating specified by the manufacturer, shown on a label that is usually in the door jamb and listed in the owners manual. Don’t they do that in the US?

  2. How much slower will it be and how much worse will the brakes be? I’m guessing 15% or so – better brake pads would be a good idea too

  3. Dear Kamil, I actually own an air compressor for my Wrangler, I have just not mounted one under the engine bay. From my internet searching, I havent found one that fits in the new JL Rubicon…

    Other questions
    – the OEM 17×7.5″ wheel – that’s ok with a 35×12.5 tire?
    – how tall will my Jeep be and will it still fit in my parking garage
    – do I need to code the car for the speedometer.

    1. Yeah you really should have the computer reprogrammed to correct the speedo and shifting if you have an automatic. Going larger though isn’t as much of a problem with the shifting as is going smaller.

    2. Dear “S”:

      – Yes it is, it’s been done many times.
      https://www.google.com/search?safe=active&rlz=1C1GCEU_enUS849US849&biw=1920&bih=937&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=xw1LXe_2KK2f_QbR57ywCA&q=jl+stock+wheels+35&oq=jl+stock+wheels+35&gs_l=img.3…4418.4689..4969…0.0..0.60.117.2……0….1..gws-wiz-img.4nTtUwoivc4&ved=&uact=5#imgrc=_

      – I don’t know, it depends how tall your Jeep is now and that depends on the height of your garage. Assume that with a tire that is two inches taller, the height of your jeep will increase by one inch.

      – You should. In addition to many after-market devices, a dealer may even be able to this for you – https://www.jlwranglerforums.com/forum/threads/dealership-can-now-reprogram-calibrate-speedometer-and-odometer-for-bigger-tires.5548/

      Good luck!

      1. “Has been done many times” does not mean it’s a good idea. A 7.5″ wide wheel is about the minimum you would want for the stock 285s. I wouldn’t put 12.50s on anything less than an 8.5″ wide rim. Even better would be 9 or 10.

      2. Will it fit in the garage with the 35″ tires? Well, he DID mention he had an air compressor, so yes. That compressor might get a real workout though if you deflate the tires every time you park in the garage… 😉

  4. My BIL put 35″ Nittos on his mildly-lifted JKUL, and while I admit that cosmetically it looks better, the ride, acceleration, braking, and handling precision have all suffered. It was a much more enjoyable truck to drive before donning the big heavy boots. Personally, I prioritize function over appearance.

  5. Well, we don’t know each other personally, but I’m a person who doesn’t like his KO2s – in fact, I’ll go so far as to say I hate them.

    Yeah, they look great – arguably the best looking tire out there. Ugh, but that tread. I’ve never seen a tire grab and throw gravel as badly as they do. When I get on the pavement, I have to drive no faster than 20 for at least a mile to try and clear out the tread. Snow/ice is another let down. Again, that tread loads up, won’t self clear, and becomes almost worthless. As soon as these BFGs wear out, I’m throwing on a set of Cooper Discoverer STT Pros (also available in a 315/70/17)

    1. I’m not a big fan of KO2s, either. The old-style 32″ BFG ATs I had on my CJ were great and wore well, but several people I know that have used the KO2s say they’re having repeated balancing issues (and as you said, they don’t clear worth a damn). I personally would shy towards Duratracs or General Grabber ATXs instead.
      As for the Cooper Discoverer STT Pro, those are arguably the best-looking off-road tires I’ve researched. They simply look awesome. No one I know is using them, though. They’re not an option I would consider because their winter traction is– from what I’ve read– pretty poor. On packed snow or ice, forget about it. Like most MTs, they have minimal siping, and what’s good for mud isn’t necessarily good for snow.

    2. That’s odd. I had them on my 4Runner for three years now. They have been great in New England winter, too. Often I don’t even bother to shift into 4WD for teh giggles. Have friends with jeeps and F150s who have them.

      Regarding the gravel… well, that’s like a race car slick that picks up pebbles. if you want to see a bad tire, wait until my Ford Ranger review.

      1. I wonder if the winter issue is more the cold than the tread. I had a set of Kumho tires once that were really, really good – until it dropped to that -10 and under range, and then they were as hard as hockey pucks.

        Regardless, I still hate these BFGs because of the gravel

      2. I wonder if the winter issue is more the cold than the tread. I had a set of Kumho tires once that were really, really good – until it dropped to that -10 and under range, and then they were as hard as hockey pucks.

        Regardless, I still hate these BFGs because of the gravel

        1. All-season tires start to harden up below 40F (well above freezing), so you don’t need snow or ice on the road for grip to fade. When the temperature falls below 15F, all non-winter tires harden up and start behaving more like plastic instead of rubber. If you live anywhere that you can expect extended periods of single-digit temperatures, you really need a winter tire that’s made of a softer compound and has plenty of siping. I live in central Ohio, so I don’t bother, but if I lived north of the 45th parallel, I might consider it.

        2. All-season tires start to harden up below 40F (well above freezing), so you don’t need snow or ice on the road for grip to fade. When the temperature falls below 15F, all non-winter tires harden up and start behaving more like plastic instead of rubber. If you live anywhere that you can expect extended periods of single-digit temperatures, you really need a winter tire that’s made of a softer compound and has plenty of siping. I live in central Ohio, so I don’t bother, but if I lived north of the 45th parallel, I might consider it.

          1. I’ve never lived south of the 45th parallel, so I’m quite familiar with cold-assed winter driving and how tires behave. I’ve never had issues with snow-rated all-seasons (you need to have that little pic of a snow capped mountain on the sidewall) other than these BFGs and that set of Kumho mud tires I had on my ’88 Silverado. The KO2s certainly aren’t undriveable come October through March, just noticeably reduced traction that I haven’t experienced with any other all season (again, other than those god-awful Kumhos)

          2. I have a set of (OEM) Kumho tires on our minivan right now, and they’re worthless in cold weather, even when it’s dry. They’re also terrible in wet conditions at any temperature. I don’t think I’ve ever ran a tire that was worse, and as a poor teen I bought some cheap-assed tires.

            These should hopefully be worn out before winter, at which point I’m getting some Yokohama Geolandar ATs installed. I might get some “WTF?” stares for running all-terrains on a minivan, but I’m tired of sliding around, and I think winter tires are overkill where I live.

            What do you drive in the winter? You have an SS for the summer, right?

          3. The SS is technically the MiSSus’s car – though she let’s me drive it once in awhile hee hee. We did buy snow tires for it, but decided this might be a forever vehicle and so it never leaves the garage once the snow comes. Do you need a set of 245/45/18 V speed rated winter tires with less than a 100 miles on them?

            Come winter time, most days she drives the Jeep and I drive the pickup (2012 F150 Supercrew). Sounds like Kumho still hasn’t figured out a compound for the cold.

          4. The SS is technically the MiSSus’s car – though she let’s me drive it once in awhile hee hee. We did buy snow tires for it, but decided this might be a forever vehicle and so it never leaves the garage once the snow comes. Do you need a set of 245/45/18 V speed rated winter tires with less than a 100 miles on them?

            Come winter time, most days she drives the Jeep and I drive the pickup (2012 F150 Supercrew). Sounds like Kumho still hasn’t figured out a compound for the cold.

          5. All season tires are designed to stay relatively soft when the temps get below 40f it is summer tires that are useless and can actually crack below 40f.

          6. I’m in central Ohio too and I understand the dilemma. All seasons are generally adequate, but after driving our old Prius with winters in the snow last year, I’m sold. It was probably the worst car I had driven in the snow and the winters transformed it into the best in my fleet. I can’t afford to equip all my vehicles, but I am going to put them on my wife’s Accord. The 16 inch wheels from my old RSX are a perfect -1 size.

            The problem is the few 60+ days we get each winter which turn the winter tires into gummy bears.

          7. You’re certainly right about our winters being unpredictable. Several years I’ve regretted not having a dedicated set of winter tires for the van, but most seasons I get through fine with minimal issue. For driving confidence, my wife has only bought AWD vehicles for the last 18 years, but I think AWD is a wasted investment 95% of the time. It increases cost of initial purchase, maintenance, fuel, etc., for what I perceive as rarely-needed advantage.
            I don’t doubt that you had a good experience with the winter tires on the Prius. Studies have repeatedly shown that dedicated winter tires on a 2WD vehicle outperform all-seasons with AWD. I don’t mind the hassle of swapping wheels and tires twice a year, but finding a suitable place to store them is a pain. And even if I did, you can bet that as soon as I took them off for the season, we’d get one of those late-March blizzards when I could really use them the most.
            I might eventually try winter tires, but this year I’m going to put a set of all-terrains on the minivan. It will help wet traction, if nothing else. I might even put the white letters out just for neighborhood eye rolls. Then I may need a bull bar to top off the look. I’m sure my wife will love it.

          8. Thankfully, wheel storage space isn’t a problem for me now. Which is why I have 4 extra sets plus the factory wheels for the Thunderbird laying around. The Prius winters will go this fall, however.

            You’ll have to post pics of your overland minivan. Sounds like fun.

            I’ve got 29″ all terrains on the back of the Ranger and even with 180 pounds of sand in the back it wasn’t great in the snow. Probably at least in part due to the lack of power to turn those big tires.

  6. I had BFG’s on my F150, they handled well, but were noticeably heavier than the Goodyears that came stock, acceleration and braking were affected in a SOTP kind of way that I would have been biased to deny or explain away, but can’t. I have a set of Toyo AT II’s on my 4Runner, they’re smooth riding and handle just fine, but are pretty noisy above 65 mph with an exponential increase in volume as you go faster. I’m a mild ‘froader at best, will probably go with Michelins next.

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