If you own a Jeep Cherokee XJ, you may be wondering what wheels will properly fit your vehicle. With so many wheel options available from stock OEM wheels to custom aftermarket rims, it can get confusing figuring out the right bolt pattern, size parameters, and compatibility for your Cherokee.
This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know to find wheels guaranteed to fit your Jeep Cherokee model and year. We’ll cover critical details like bolt patterns, wheel dimensions, lug torque specs, and more so you can shop for new wheels with confidence.
Checking Your Jeep Cherokee’s Bolt Pattern
The wheel bolt pattern, also known as lug pattern or pitch circle diameter (PCD), refers to the number and circle measurement that make up how the wheel bolts to the vehicle’s hub. Matching your Jeep’s bolt pattern is the first step in finding compatible wheels.
Here are the most common bolt patterns used on Jeep Cherokee models:
5×4.5 Bolt Pattern
The 5×4.5 bolt pattern is the factory wheel setup used on:
- 1987–2001 Jeep Cherokee (XJ)
- 1987-1995 Jeep Wrangler (YJ)
- 1987–1992 Jeep Comanche (MJ)
This pattern features 5 lug bolts evenly spaced in a circle with a diameter of 4.5 inches. This is the most common bolt pattern found on Cherokees, with the exception of certain models modified with different hubs.
5×5 Bolt Pattern
Some later model Jeeps use a 5×5 wheel bolt pattern including:
- 1999–2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee (WJ)
- 2005–2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee (WK)
- 2006–2010 Jeep Commander (XK)
- 2008–2012 Jeep Liberty (KK)
- 2011–2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee (WK2)
In this pattern, the 5 lug bolts are spaced evenly in a 5 inch diameter circle. This is not compatible with the wheels from an XJ Cherokee.
6×4.5 Bolt Pattern
A less common 6 lug 4.5 inch pattern was equipped on:
- 1993-1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee (ZJ)
- 2007-2017 Jeep Patriot (MK74)
- 2007-2017 Jeep Compass (MK49)
Again, the 6×4.5 wheels used on these Jeep models will not bolt up to a Jeep Cherokee XJ.
Identifying Your Bolt Pattern
If you are unsure of your Cherokee’s wheel bolt pattern, there are a couple quick ways to measure and determine it:
- Count the Number of Lug Bolts – Cherokees will have 5 lug bolts unless they have been modified aftermarket.
- Measure Bolt Circle Diameter – Use a measuring tape to measure from the center of one lug horizontally to the opposite lug. Round to the nearest half inch.
- Check Your Owner’s Manual – The bolt pattern is often listed in the wheel specs.
- Reference Wheel Writing – Many OEM wheels will be stamped with the bolt pattern.
Unless your Cherokee has non-original wheels, wheels with redrilled hubs, or other modifications, 1987-2001 XJ models will have a 5×4.5 wheel bolt pattern.
Key Wheel Dimensions To Match
Along with having the correct bolt pattern, there are some other important wheel specifications that must be matched to ensure proper fitment on your Jeep Cherokee:
Jeep Cherokee wheels typically range from 15 to 18 inches in diameter. The most common OEM sizes are 15 and 16 inches, but many owners choose to upgrade to larger 17 or 18 inch wheels. Larger wheel diameters can provide more clearance for bigger brake calipers and off-road tires, but may require a suspension lift to prevent rubbing.
Wheel width impacts tire fitment and steering. Factory Cherokee wheels are typically 6 to 7 inches wide which works well for stock tire sizes. Aftermarket steel wheels up to 8 inches wide are common, while alloy wheels usually range from 7 to 9 inches depending on the offset. Wider wheels allow fitting larger tires which is advantageous for off-road use.
The backspacing or offset of a wheel determines its positioning relative to the hub and fender. This spec is important for preventing rubbing and ensuring proper steering geometry. Jeep Cherokee wheels commonly have offsets ranging from 25 to 35 millimeters. Wheels with too little offset can rub on suspension and steering components while wheels with excessive offset can lead to poor handling.
The backspacing of a wheel is measured in inches and it is the distance from the mounting surface of the wheel to the inner edge of the wheel. Jeep Cherokee wheels usually have backspacing ranging from 4.5 to 5.5 inches.
The center bore of the wheel is the hole in the center of the wheel that fits over the hub. The center bore of the wheel must match the hub diameter to ensure the wheel centers properly over the lug bolts. Most Jeep Cherokee hubs are either 71.5mm or 72.6mm. Aftermarket wheels should match one of these sizes. Using hub centric rings can sometimes allow wheels with mismatching center bores to work.
Do Jeep Wrangler Wheels Fit On A Cherokee?
Some Jeep Cherokee and Wrangler models shared the same 5×4.5 bolt pattern from the factory which leads people to wonder – can you swap Wrangler wheels onto a Cherokee? The short answer is maybe, with some limitations.
Because early 1987-1995 YJ Wrangler and XJ Cherokee models both used the 5×4.5 pattern, YJ wheels are more likely to properly fit on a Cherokee. However, you still need to carefully compare diameters, width, backspacing, and center bore to avoid issues:
- Diameter – Stock YJ wheels are 15×8 inches compared to Cherokee wheels which were 15×7 inches. The added width could lead to interference.
- Width – As mentioned above, stock Wrangler wheels tend to be slightly wider which impacts tire fitment.
- Offset – Cherokee and Wrangler offsets can vary, leading to positioning problems.
- Center Bore – These two models often used different hub sizes.
While there are some examples of Wrangler wheels working on Cherokees, it’s not guaranteed depending on the specifics parts used. Your best bet is to measure and reference all the specifications to determine compatibility or look for wheels specially designed to fit both models.
Can You Fit Larger Wheels On A Jeep Cherokee?
The Jeep Cherokee’s suspension and fender wells can accommodate larger diameter wheels, especially with a lift installed. Here are some guidelines for sizing up your XJ’s wheels:
- Up to 16 inch wheels can fit without a lift
- A 2-3 inch lift allows fitment of 17 inch wheels
- 18 inch wheels typically require a 4 inch lift
- Adjust backspacing and offset accordingly
- Larger than 18 inches requires major modifications
As you increase wheel diameter, you also need to adjust tire sidewall size to avoid hitting suspension and body components at full compression and steering lock. Make sure to carefully check for rubbing before driving on new larger wheel and tire combinations.
Finding Compatible Aftermarket Wheels
Once you know your Jeep Cherokee’s bolt pattern, wheel size specs, and any fitment limitations, you can begin shopping for compatible aftermarket wheels. Some top options include:
- Original style stamped steel wheels – Inexpensive, durable, basic styling
- Aftermarket steelies – Similar stock looks, wider widths available
- Black powder coated steel wheels – Enhanced corrosion resistance over chrome wheels
- Beadlock capable steel wheels – For hardcore rock crawling applications
Steel wheels are typically the most affordable option and provide a rugged, classic look, especially on lifted XJs. Just be mindful that wider steel wheels can sometimes lead to steering system interference.
- Aluminum alloy rims – Lightweight, strong, customized styles and finishes
- High offset alloy wheels – Increases the clearance between the tire and the suspension components
- Beadlock ready alloy wheels – Combines style with beadlock capability
- Popular brands like Pro Comp, Mickey Thompson, KMC, Fuel, etc.
Alloy wheels offer the best combination of strength, weight savings, and styling for street driven, lightly trailed Cherokees. Stick with reputable wheel brands and smaller diameters without a lift installed.
Beadlock Wheel & Tire Combos
- Wheels with outer beadlock rings – Locks tire beads to prevent de-beading off-road
- Available in aluminum and multi-piece steel designs
- Sold as a wheel/tire package with extreme terrain tires
- Requires outer beadlock rings sold separately
Beadlock capable wheels let you install beadlock rings for hardcore rock crawling and off-road racing. The integrated wheel/tire combos simplify getting the right components for this specialized setup.
No matter your preference for styling and materials, there are many aftermarket wheels available to fit the common Jeep Cherokee 5×114.3 mm bolt pattern and dimensions. Just remember to filter your options using your exact model info and measuring for proper clearance.
Can Wheel Spacers Allow More Wheels To Fit Your Cherokee?
Wheel spacers are a popular modification used to change the offset and backspacing of Jeep Cherokee wheels. By spacing the wheels further outboard, wheel spacers can allow rims that would normally sit too far in or out to properly fit your XJ with adequate clearance.
Some potential benefits of running spacers on a Cherokee include:
- Ability to use wheels with too much positive offset
- Pushes wheels out to allow bigger tire fitment
- Allows use of common Wrangler aftermarket wheels
- Opens up more wheel upgrade options
However, wheel spacers also come with drawbacks to consider:
- Can negatively impact steering and suspension geometry if too wide
- Adds stress to wheel studs and hubs
- Requires longer lug studs to account for spacer thickness
- Spacer failure can lead to wheel detachment
Overall, moderate use of wheel spacers in the 0.5 to 1.5 inch range can provide more flexibility when upgrading Cherokee wheels. But careful calculation of the resulting geometry and use of quality hub-centric spacers is recommended to avoid potential issues. Consulting a specialist is wise if opting to run spacers.
Do I Need New Tires When Swapping Jeep Cherokee Wheels?
When upgrading to new wheels on your XJ, you may be wondering if new tires are also required. Here are some guidelines regarding Jeep Cherokee tires when changing wheels:
Match Existing Wheel and Tire Diameter
In order to maintain proper speedometer and gearing accuracy, your current wheel and tire diameter should be maintained when changing wheels. Mounting the existing tires or new tires of the exact same diameter on the new wheels is recommended.
Increase Tire Width If Widening Wheels
If you move up to wider aftermarket wheels, consider increasing tire width accordingly to properly fill out the wheel wells. Mixing too narrow of a tire on extra wide wheels can sometimes lead to handling issues.
Consider On/Off-Road Use
Your intended driving use (on-road, off-road, or a blend) impacts the ideal tire choice to complement new Jeep Cherokee wheels. All-terrain, mud-terrain, gravel, and other tires offer different advantages depending on application.
Adjust Sidewall Height
Increasing wheel diameter may provide the opportunity to adjust tire sidewall height for more or less ground clearance. Consider whether more sidewall flex or smaller diameter is preferred.
Maintain Load Rating
New tires for a Cherokee should at minimum match the load index and speed rating of the OEM tires according to your vehicle’s specifications and carrying needs.
In many cases, keeping your current tires and just changing the wheels may be perfectly acceptable. But for those wanting to refresh their tires as well, choosing options that optimize on-road comfort, off-road traction, or a balance of both is advised when paired with new wheels. A specialist can dial in fitment.
Proper Lug Torque Specs For Jeep Wheels
Once you get your new wheels and tires mounted on your Jeep Cherokee, it’s critical that you torque the lug nuts to the proper specifications using a torque wrench. Here are the recommended torque specs:
- Stock Steel Wheels – 75 to 85 ft-lbs
- Aftermarket Alloy Wheels – 90 to 100 ft-lbs
Always follow wheel manufacturer torque specifications if provided instead of the general specs above. Under or over tightening lug nuts can lead to wheel movement or stud breakage.
Be sure to re-torque the wheels after 50 to 100 miles of driving to ensure the wheels remain tight. This helps prevent dangerous wheel detachment that can occur if nuts loosen over time. Properly torqued lug nuts keeps you safe on and off-road.
Finding A Qualified Installer For Your Jeep Cherokee Wheels
While you can absolutely tackle a DIY wheel and tire swap on a Cherokee in your driveway, enlisting a qualified tire shop is advised if you don’t have much experience. The right local installer or 4×4 specialty shop will ensure your new components get installed and fit properly.
When looking for a qualified installer, research shops with specific experience working on Jeep Cherokees. Confirm they have the proper equipment to mount and balance the tire and wheel combination you select. Ask about their process for test fitting and checking clearances.
A knowledgeable installer can also help educate you on optimal wheel fitment, make recommendations, and ensure any required modifications like lift kits or fender trimming are performed. Overall you can have more confidence and peace of mind using a shop that truly understands Jeeps over a generic tire chain.
Let’s Recap Choosing Wheels For A Jeep Cherokee:
Finding the perfect set of wheels to fit your Jeep Cherokee and your needs requires some research and planning. But understanding the critical factors like bolt pattern, wheel dimensions, tire properties, proper torque procedures, and using qualified installers will ensure success.
Here’s a quick recap of the key details covered in this guide:
- Identify your bolt pattern (almost always 5×114.3 mm for XJ models)
- Match critical dimensions – diameter, width, offset/backspacing, center bore
- Consider intended on and off-road use for wheel and tire selection
- Calculate proper tire diameter and width for swapped wheels
- Torque wheels to spec with a torque wrench after install and break-in period
- Use an experienced installation shop for mounting and fitment assurance
With so many wheel and tire options for the Jeep Cherokee, take your time to select the combination that fits your vehicle and budget. This guide equips you with the knowledge needed to upgrade your XJ safely. Soon you’ll be rolling on fresh new Cherokee wheels both on and off the beaten path. Enjoy the ride!