What You Need to Know When Installing Aftermarket Wheels on Your Wrangler

4WheelOnline
5 min readMay 18, 2023

Although it can boost the potential of your Jeep Wrangler, changing to new wheels can be a bit challenging, as there are a few things you need to know before you get started. With a little research and preparation, changing the old stock rims to aftermarket wheels is going to be a relatively easy process.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

Considerations when searching for new Wrangler wheels

When selecting the correct rims for your Wrangler, you should consider beyond the looks. Lucky for you, you can find plenty of options when it comes to beadlock wheels, from lesser-known manufacturers to tried-and-true brands like Method wheels. But here are the things you must consider first before buying new wheels:

Purpose

If you would mount new rims on your Jeep, matching it with a purpose is crucial. Ask yourself if it would be for uncomplicated daily driving or radical off-road use. Determining this can help you choose what type of wheels to buy.

Road or terrain type

If you mostly drive in city or highway settings, pick a set of rims with the correct offset to minimize rubbing when mounting large tires on them. However, only limited wheel options are suggested if you’re into hardcore wheeling. Choose a wheel package not only for looks but also offers durability that can endure the roughness of the terrain. Beadlock wheels prevent your tires from coming off the rim when you drive under low air pressure.

You also have to consider tires when upgrading your Jeep wheels. Considering the terrain type you will be driving on, such as rocky, muddy, or others, can help you determine appropriate tires. Are you going to do a lot of off-roading? Then the tires you need should have aggressive tread patterns.

Size and tire type

When you typically drive in rugged terrains, 20-inch large wheels will likely have you scowling at every rocky road you come across. Large rims are not recommended for off-roading because the tires fit for it only have minimal sidewall. The tire treads are not meant for increased traction, especially in paths that are not solid enough.

Also, do not forget to consider choosing the correct size of wheel and tires. Larger tires will give you more ground clearance, but the downside is that the large tires will reduce your fuel economy.

Installation

Changing the wheels is more complex than changing the tires. You must select aftermarket wheels that will precisely fit your wheel wells. If not, there could be complications, leading to more severe damage to the vehicle’s suspension. Better to seek help from professionals if you aren’t technically savvy in installing some modifications. Mechanics and automotive service technicians can also advise you on the type of tires suitable to your Wrangler’s newly fitted wheels.

Warranty

The coverage of warranty is contentious for a lot of customers. Having an aftermarket part or mods to your vehicle cannot void your warranty, even though some dealers that would have you think otherwise. However, once a particular mod leads to damage, the dealership can deny your warranty claim.

During installation, aftermarket parts or any modifications may cause damage to a particular component, which can affect the vehicle’s condition. If this happens, the dealership has to prove the mods or aftermarket part was not properly installed, which led to failure.

TPMS sensors

In early 2011, the Tire Industry Association (TIA) got in touch with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concerning vehicles equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). TIA specifically addressed the “make inoperative” provisions of the TPMS regulations. Putting new wheels may affect the TPMS sensors on your Jeep Wrangler. Disabling the TPMS sensors violates the TREAD Act, which includes vehicles with custom or aftermarket wheels.

Wheel material best suited for Wrangler

You may choose from different types of wheel materials for Jeep Wranglers. Let’s explore the differences to help you determine which one is best for your SUV.

Steel

Steel wheels (also called steelies) are typically regarded as cheap yet robust. Steel is a strong metal, making the wheels extremely durable. It is popularly used for off-roading and during wintertime.

Pros:

  • It has a lower center of gravity, which is perfect for most Wranglers.
  • If one was bent while driving on rocky trails, hammering it back is possible to a point where it holds air.
  • You can pair them with winter tires as they can endure cold temperatures.
  • Compared to other wheel materials, they are low-priced.
  • Do not require a lot of effort to maintain in good condition.
  • You may repaint them to match the looks and style of the Wrangler.

Cons:

  • Even if it is hard to crack, steel wheels can still bend.
  • They do not come in many different styles, so installing hubcaps is necessary to make them look fancy.
  • Despite the low maintenance feature, rust can build up on the steel wheels.
  • Steelies can affect the performance of your Wrangler due to its heavy weight, worsening the fuel economy.
  • The steel material does not dissipate heat well, which can affect the longevity of the tires you have paired.

Aluminum (alloy)

These days, most manufacturers use aluminum alloy to make wheels.

Pros:

  • In terms of weight, aluminum wheels are lighter.
  • Because it’s lightweight, they help improve the Wrangler’s fuel economy.
  • It provides better handling and heat dissipation than steelies.
  • You can choose from many designs.
  • Rust won’t be a problem because forged wheels are less likely to oxidize.

Cons:

  • The wheels require more maintenance to ensure good condition.
  • Aside from getting dents and scratches when bumped on the pavement, cracks may occur.
  • Difficult to repair since you cannot hammer it back yourself.
  • Certain types of cleaners may damage the wheel finish.
  • Cast aluminum wheels weigh more and are weaker than forged ones.

There are various types of aluminum wheel construction — cast and forged.

  • Forged: Denser and less porous, making them lighter yet stronger than cast wheels. Because of the forging process, the wheels are more resistant to oxidation and corrosion. They tend to hold up better off-road without hurting your Wrangler’s handling and fuel economy.
  • Cast: Weaker than forged but offers a good value, especially if you’re looking for an affordable wheel option. It has a lighter weight but maintains impressive strength. However, the downside of this aluminum alloy wheel is its susceptibility to cracks and oxidation.

New rims for your Wrangler

Remember that increasing the wheel’s diameter will affect the load ratings and tire width. The tires you used from the old rims can also become useless if not sized appropriately with your new wheels.

When it comes to modifications on a Jeep Wrangler, replacing the factory wheels is typically considered by many owners. So, enjoy a nice set of wheels to rejuvenate your vehicle’s look. Aside from improving the appearance, installing aftermarket wheels is a great way to improve its performance.

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