Going from 20” to 17” rims - how did highway handling change?

Slaphitter

Member
My Sahara 4xe has the stock 20” rims, 275/55r20, with the factory all-season rubber. The look is obviously not classic Jeep, although I don’t dislike the look. But I am considering changing it to 17” rims and all-terrain rubber both for the looks and for the practical benefits when I occasionally go off-road. But here is the question.

Compared to the TJ I had 25 years ago, I am really, really impressed with the road manners of this Jeep. I am pretty sure that thin (ish) sidewalls and street tires play a meaningful role in that. Has anyone made the change from 20s to 17s, and what affect did you notice at highway speeds? Significantly more squishy or wobbly? Steering less precise?
 

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wayoflife

Administrator
Staff member
More sidewall can potentially compromise handling but not necessarily. And, you have to keep in mind that 17" is a lot wider than the 15" wheels that were on your TJ. If it's a real concern, make sure to run load range D or E tires and you will not have the "squishy or wobbly" feel that you're thinking you might have. However, a load range C will provide a more comfortable ride, especially ON pavement.
 

Slaphitter

Member
Ah, the load range is an interesting point. I assume it also has an inverse effect on how much you can air down. stiffer sidewalls = lower safe air pressure?
 

kevman65

Active Member
The beauty of having a 17" wheel with taller tires is the fact you have more adjustability.

You can play with the air in the tires to tune your ride comfort. Going on a trip and fully loaded, air up to stiffen the tires. Putting around town near empty, air down for a more cushioned ride.
Your tires are your first suspension part. Get them set right and you take the harshness out of the ride.
 
The beauty of having a 17" wheel with taller tires is the fact you have more adjustability.

You can play with the air in the tires to tune your ride comfort. Going on a trip and fully loaded, air up to stiffen the tires. Putting around town near empty, air down for a more cushioned ride.
Your tires are your first suspension part. Get them set right and you take the harshness out of the ride.
This^^^

A lot of people overlook that the tires are what take the first hit, and by a pretty considerable amount too. Definitely would allow for more fine tuning if you went with 17s so you don't have to always run a higher pressure like 38 psi (Believe that's what your door says) to ensure those smaller tires on bigger wheels wear evenly with what little sidewall they have.

Definitely remember to consider load rating as well, E or D is gonna wear more evenly but C is gonna ride slightly better since it's softer.
 
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