The Jeep Wrangler is one of the most capable and customizable off-road vehicles straight from the factory. But many Wrangler owners want to take their Jeep’s performance to the next level with bigger tires for improved ground clearance and off-road traction. Typically, fitting tires over 31 inches requires installing a suspension lift kit.
However, it is possible to fit slightly larger 33 inch tires on a stock Jeep Wrangler if you choose the right tire size and wheel combo and make some minor modifications. Going to 33 inch tires without lifting can provide better ground clearance for moderate off-roading while maintaining close to stock ride height.
In this article, we’ll go over:
- The largest tires you can fit without a lift kit
- How 33 inch tires affect suspension and handling
- Clearance and rubbing issues with stock fenders
- Ideal 33 inch tire options for a stock Jeep
- Additional upgrades to handle larger tires
- Fuel economy changes to expect
- Pros and cons of 33s without lifting vs a small budget lift
So whether you have a new JL/JLU Wrangler or an older JK or TJ, read on to learn how to get 33 inch tires fitted on your stock Jeep!
Table of Contents
What Are the Largest Tires You Can Fit Without a Lift?
The Wrangler comes with fairly small stock tire sizes from the factory, usually around 30-32 inches in diameter depending on model and trim. This leaves room to go up one size to 33 inch tires without any suspension modifications. But several factors affect how large of a tire you can fit:
Jeep Model Year
Newer JL/JLU Wranglers actually have slightly more fender clearance than the previous JK models, meaning you may be able to sneak on 33s or even 34 inch tires if you limit rub. Older TJ models have the least space compared to newer Jeeps.
This refers to how far the wheels are spaced away from the brake rotors and suspension. More backspacing gives more room for the tire to fit without rubbing. Many opt for aftermarket wheels with more backspacing or wheel spacers.
Leveling/Budget Lift Kits
A 1-2 inch lift helps lift the body for more tire clearance. Budget lifts like spacer lifts are affordable options under $200.
Carefully trimming away small sections of the plastic fender flares and bumpers can add a few extra millimeters of space if necessary.
With the right combo of the above, you can generally fit 265/75R16, 33×12.50R15, or 285/75R16 tires, which measure 32-33 inches tall. Narrower tires around 10-11 inches wide are best for avoiding rub on a stock suspension Jeep Wrangler.
Will 33s Fit on a Stock Jeep Wrangler?
The short answer is yes, with some caveats depending on your Jeep’s generation. Here’s a quick rundown:
The standard tire size on a stock JK Wrangler is usually a 255/75R17 which equates to about 32 inches tall. This model can accommodate 33 inch tires without a lift, but minor trimming/spacing mods are advised.
JL and JLU models come with 33 inch tires on higher Rubicon trims from the factory. On lower models with smaller stock tires, you can upgrade to 33s without rubbing issues. Minor trimming may help.
Due to slightly less fender clearance, the upgrade to 33s on a TJ is more challenging. Budget lift kits around 1.5-2 inches are recommended to allow fitting 33 inch tires.
So while getting 33s to fit on a stock JK or JL is certainly possible, fitting them on older Jeeps may be difficult without changes to prevent tire rub and suspension issues.
How Do the Tires Affect the Suspension and Handling?
Putting larger, heavier tires on your Wrangler without changing the suspension geometry will have some effects on how your Jeep rides and handles:
The heavier weight of 33 inch tires compared to stock will compress your suspension more, reducing droop and articulation which is important for off-roading. This is especially true if you opt for 10-ply rated tires. Installing new shocks and sway bar disconnects can help restore flex.
Expect a harsher, stiffer ride over bumps and uneven pavement as the tires transmit more vibration into the chassis. Again, higher ply tires and mud terrains compound the rough ride. Look into upgrading your shocks and springs.
With more mass to turn at the wheels, steering feel will be a bit more sluggish which is most noticeable at slow speeds or parking maneuvers.
Load on Suspension Components
The additional rotating and unsprung weight stresses stock components like ball joints, control arms, and wheel bearings. Budget to replace worn parts over time.
Upgraded brake pads are a great idea when going to larger tires to maintain short braking distances. Big tires have more momentum!
So while the stock suspension can handle 33s reasonably well with some compromises, an affordable lift kit down the road is recommended to get your Jeep dialed in.
Will I Need to Re-Gear with 33 Inch Tires?
Whenever you substantially increase your Wrangler’s tire diameter, the engine and transmission gearing is no longer optimized. The larger tires require more torque to turn, putting additional load on the powertrain.
For a 3-3.5 inch increase to 33s, most find re-gearing is not mandatory, but has benefits:
Shorter gear ratios restore low-end grunt and throttle response which suffers with the taller tire diameter.
Normalizes Engine RPM
Without re-gearing, the engine will run at higher RPMs due to the tires covering more ground per revolution. Re-gearing brings RPMs back down.
Boosts Fuel Economy
Running the engine at lower RPM improves efficiency and mileage. MPG takes a hit with larger tires.
Enhances Driving Comfort
Lower RPM cruising reduces noise and vibration making for a more pleasant driving experience.
Consider re-gearing if towing heavy loads or tackling challenging terrain. For light off-roading, stock gearing with 33s is fine. Re-gearing costs over $1000 for parts and labor.
What About Clearance – Will 33s Rub or Require Trimming?
Since you’re not lifting the Jeep’s body and fenders up, fitting the larger diameter 33s inside the stock wheel wells is tricky. Here are some tips to gain clearance:
Quality spacers up to 1.25″ help push the wheels and tires outward away from the frame and suspension for extra room.
Carefully trim the plastic fender flare edges and bumper ends to add a few extra millimeters of clearance as needed around the tires. Use a razor blade and take it slow.
Avoid Rub at Full Turn
Test full steering lock to check for rubbing on front control arms or sway bar links. Small steering stops can limit turning angle.
Monitor where the tires contact at full compression when off-roading. Some choose to disconnect sway bars for maximum articulation and clearance.
Overall, most manage to fit 33 inch tires without excessive rubbing on stock fenders, but minor trimming and spacing allows even more room for flexing off-road. Monitor tire wear for any indications of consistent rubbing.
Best 33 Inch Tires for a Jeep Wrangler Without a Lift
With so many tire options on the market, it can be tough to pick the right 33 inch tire for your stock Jeep. Here are the most important factors to consider:
All-Terrain vs Mud Terrain
Rugged mud terrains like BFG KM2s offer the most traction off-road but ride rougher on pavement. Quality all-terrains like Falken Wildpeaks balance on and off-road performance.
10 Ply Rating
Look for tires with a load range E 10-ply rating which helps maintain tire structure with the heavier weight. Avoid LT tires which are over 12 ply and too stiff.
Try to keep tread width under 11 inches wide to prevent rubbing on stock fenders. Narrower tires fit better without a lift kit.
Stick with reputable tire brands like BFGoodrich, Toyo, Nitto, Falken rather than cheap no-name options. You get what you pay for with tires.
Some top all-terrain picks are the Falken Wildpeak AT3W and Nitto Ridge Grappler. For even more traction off-road, the BFGoodrich KM3 mud terrain is ideal. All three strike a great balance for 33s on a stock Jeep.
Do I Need Other Upgrades to Run 33 Inch Tires?
Beyond basic maintenance parts like shocks and brake pads, here are some other upgrades to consider when sizing up to 33 inch tires:
- Wheel Spacers – quality 1-2 inch spacers for clearance
- Track Bars – correct geometry and reduce body roll
- Sway Bar Disconnects – retain wheel articulation and prevent rub
- Bump Stops – avoid harsh topping out of suspension
- Skid Plates – protect vulnerable underbody components
Beefed up off-road parts help compensate for the taller, heavier tires stressing the stock suspension and drivetrain. Invest in upgrades like these over time to unlock your Jeep’s full capability.
How Does Fuel Economy Change with 33s Without a Lift?
It’s no secret that putting larger, aggressive tires on your Wrangler will reduce fuel mileage to some degree. Just how much depends on a few factors:
Going from a 30″ stock tire to a 33″ tire likely drops MPG by 2-3 on average. Taller tires require more energy to turn.
Knobby mud terrains are less efficient than street-oriented all-terrains. Tread pattern makes a difference.
Lower rpm cruising after re-gearing can help offset mileage loss from bigger tires.
Careful driving maximizes MPG regardless of mods. Higher speed highway driving sees the greatest efficiency hit.
So while you should expect 1-4 mpg worse fuel economy from 33 inch tires without a lift, smart gearing and driving choices reduces the impact. Accept the MPG hit as a tradeoff for vastly improved off-road performance.
The Best Route for 33s – Lift Kit vs No Lift?
If you’re set on getting 33 inch tires for better off-road traction and ground clearance, should you lift your Jeep or try to make them fit on stock height? Here are the pros and cons of each approach:
No Lift Kit
- Cheaper option
- Maintains close to stock ride height
- To fit safely, may require other upgrades
Small Lift Kit
- Allows fitting 33s easily with no rub
- Boosts clearance and approach angles
- Better suspension articulation
Realistically, a small suspension lift kit in the 2-3 inch range provides the best performance and clearance for 33 inch tires, while keeping the Jeep manageable for daily driving. Quality lift kits start around $500 – a worthwhile investment.
But for those unwilling to lift their Wrangler at all, fitting 33s without a lift is possible too with careful planning. Just be conservative with tire size choices and prepare to make minor fender modifications.
Either way you lift it, 33 inch tires markedly improve the look and capability of any Jeep Wrangler both on and off the road.
Conclusion and Summary
Upgrading to larger 33 inch tires from stock is one of the best ways to instantly improve your Jeep Wrangler’s off-road performance and visual appeal. By properly sizing the right 33″ tires and utilizing wheel spacers and minor trimming, fitting 33s without a complete lift kit is achievable for most.
While a suspension lift kit around 2-3 inches is ideal for maximizing clearance for larger tires, a no lift option works too. Focus on choosing quality 10 ply rated all-terrain tires under 11″ wide in proven sizes like 265/75R16 or 285/75R16. Be prepared for some minor fender rubbing and trimming.
Expect moderate impacts on ride quality, steering, and fuel economy when going to 33s without upgrading suspension parts. But the benefits of better capability and ground clearance outweigh the compromises.
Hopefully this guide gave you a realistic overview of what’s involved with installing 33 inch tires on a stock Jeep Wrangler. While a small lift kit optimizes fitment and performance, you can unlock notably improved off-road traction without lifting using the tips covered here. Happy Jeeping!