If you have a 4×4 vehicle, you could be thinking about giving it an upgrade… say, changing to bigger tires to get you ready to take on more challenging off-road driving. But, which tire size should you choose? The most common options are the 35” and 33” tires.
The 33-inch tires are the most preferred because they are just enough for off-road trails and most overlanding terrains. However, they might not be the best for extreme off-roading. In that case, is the 35-inch tires the best choice?
Is there so much of a difference between 33 and 35 tires? Let’s compare 33 vs 35 tires side by side to help you pick what’s right for your ride.
33 vs 35 Tires Differences Explained
- The obvious difference between these tires is their height/diameter, the smaller one being 33-inches, whereas the bigger one is 35-inch.
- When it comes to the circumference, the 33-inch tire offers 103.1 inches, while that of the 35-inch tire is 109.9 inches.
- Once installed onto your car or truck, 35-inch tires add only one inch more than the 33-inch tires at the axle.
- The 33-inch tires are recommended for off-road trails, whereas 55-inch tires work effectively for extreme off-roading.
These differences show that fitting your car with 35-inch tires delivers a slight lift of one inch compared to using 33-inch tires. So, if you are looking for extreme off-roading, the 35-inch tires would come in handy.
However, the 33-inch tires would be the better option if you are driving on standard off-road trails, or if you just want something for aesthetic purposes. So, we must say, there is no definite winner here because it depends on what you want.
Keep reading as we go in detail about 33 vs 35 tires side by side comparison. From this, you should be able to understand the differences, including their installation in different cars.
Closer Look at 33-Inch and 35-Inch Tires: Impact on Your Car’s Drivetrain
What impact do the 33-inch tires or 35-inch tires have when you fit them on your vehicle?
Apart from the new height, they will put more weight, which could ultimately strain the drivetrain. Because of this, it is important to look ahead and factor in a number of things, from differential strength to gear ratios, before deciding the right types of tires.
So, let’s compare the main pros and cons of each.
- Impressive traction
- There is limited strain on the drive train
- Limited impact on speedometer
- Can make your vehicle look really impressive
- Only limited adjustments will be required
- Returns poor fuel economy
- Could make your vehicle sluggish
- Gives your car impressive off-road capability
- Raises the car by about one-inch
- The elevated outlook makes your car appealing
- Larger surface area of the wheels helps to improve stability
- Returns very poor fuel economy
- A lot of cutting might be required
- 35-inch tires cause a lot of strain on the drivetrain
- Very expensive
33 vs 35 Tires Side By Side: How Do They Impact the Speedometer?
Another notable difference in using the 33-inch and 35-inch tires is the impact on the speedometer. So, how do the wheels impact it?
When developing any car, manufacturers test every component for high accuracy. The speedometer, therefore, is timed to give an accurate reading with the stock tires. Because the new tires, whether they’re 33 or 35 inches, are adding to the circumference, the speedometer’s accuracy is likely to get compromised.
So, what is the deviation between the two tires? At lower speeds, the difference is little and can easily go unnoticed. For example, after installing the new wheels, and holding all other factors—from the engine power to traction constant—the speedometer for the car with 35-inch wheels will read 21.3mph while that with 33-inch wheels will read 20mph.
The same trend continues even at higher speeds. By the time you hit 80 mph with the car on 33-inch wheels, the one running on 35-inch tires will be cruising at 85.4mph.
However, most people working on off-road excursions are less obsessed with speed, and they are more interested in safety and torque.
Fitting 33-Inch Tires: How Much Lift is Needed?
How challenging is it to fit 33-inch tires in your 4×4? We must say it is pretty challenging, but it depends on the vehicle. First, the work depends on the vehicle design, but the most important is whether it is a Solid Front Axle (SFA) or independent front suspension (IFS) vehicle.
If your car comes with SFA, the amount of work required will not be as much as another person with a car using IFS. A car with IFS will require a minimum of 2.5-inches lift to install 33-inch tires. This is not all. A lot of cutting might also be required on the fenders.
The best way to get this job right is to work with a professional specializing in car transformation. If you own a Silverado, here’s our guide for adding 33-inch tires.
Here are the Minimum Requirements for 35-Inch Tires
The 35-inch tires are larger and will offer more ground clearance compared to the 33-inch type. These tires are huge and will work more effectively when fitted in large SUVs and trucks as opposed to smaller cars.
Unlike when you are installing 33-inch tires, the lift required for the 35-inch tires is pretty high. The best approach is to upgrade the suspension by a minimum of 3.5 inches.
Again, the installation will depend on the vehicle design. If the vehicle uses SFA, the installation will be straightforward, but it’s going to be more complex if it uses IFS.
The most important requirements for installing the 35-inch tires include fender trimming and re-engineering the differentials. You might also require changing the rims and removing the crash bars.
Unless you are a mechanic, this is a procedure we would not recommend doing on your own. Get a professional to assist with the process for better results.
Fitting 33-Inch Tires in Different Cars
After comparing the requirements for installing 33-inch or 35-inch tires, it is time to get down to work. The process of installing the two tires is the same, but using 35-inch will require more lifting than the 33-inch type. So, let’s look at the installation process on different cars. We will take the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Ranger.
Fitting 33-Inch Tires on a Ford Ranger vs Jeep Wrangler
For demonstration, let’s take the 2019 Ford Ranger, which uses the stock 30.1-inch tires. The truck will also comfortably take the 33-inch tires, but some modifications on crash bars and backspacing will be required.
First, make sure to increase the backspacing to leave an adequate area for the vehicle suspension and steering system. Then, you need to remove or modify the crash bars. Finally, install 20+ offset wheels, and that should be enough to take the 33-inch wheels. This minimal work will offer you the targeted lift, but it is not strong enough and is recommended for aesthetic and limited off-road driving purposes only.
For extreme off-road driving enthusiasts, additional work will be required. Particularly, you should install stronger suspension and bigger spacers to prevent the wheel from rubbing the spindle. Your mechanic might also recommend a wheel with a higher negative offset.
Next is the Jeep Wrangler. Unlike the Ford Ranger, the Wrangler has ample space, and installing 33-inch tires is a lot simpler. So, let’s check the required modifications.
A closer look at the Wrangler shows that its fenders have ample clearance, making upgrades easy, whether with the 33-inch or 35-inch tires. However, the new tires are wider and will require wider wheels. If you install the new wider tires on the stock tires, there is a risk of more rubbing.
If you want to use the Wrangler for extreme off-roading, additional work is recommended. Particularly, you should install heavier suspension of about 2-3-inches and spacers to eliminate rubbing.
The impressive thing about the Jeep Wrangler is that you do not require a lot of cutting because it uses SFA, which does not interfere with the steering and suspension system. Check out our list of the best 35-inch tires for Jeep Wrangler.
33 vs 35 Tires Side By Side: The Winner Is…
When aiming to give your car some lift with new and bigger tires, the two options we have discussed in this post are okay, but for different cars.
Let’s put it this way, the two tire categories were designed for different jobs, and they perform these jobs well.
If you are looking forward to extreme off-road driving, the 35-inch tires will be a great pick. The tires provide a higher lift for your car, and that might be all that you need to avoid getting stuck when going out rock crawling. However, these tires work best for larger SUVs and trucks and might not be recommended for smaller 4WD cars.
When it comes to the 33-inch tires, they are what most people consider the “perfect” pick for most 4X4 cars. These tires provide excellent traction and aesthetics for your vehicle. However, they are considered the best for regular as opposed to extreme off-roading.
For example, if you fancy going out camping or game driving on rough trails, the 33-inch tires will be excellent. However, this means that it might be impossible to get the thrill that comes with extreme activities, such as rock crawling.
Is there much of a difference between 33″ and 35″ tires?
When you fit 35-inch tires, you get one-inch clearance at the axle compared to fitting the 33-inch tires. This can be very important, especially when going off-road because it can define the difference between getting hung up and hitting rocks that can damage your diff. Look at the drive train alongside the tire sizes when working on lifting a car.
Are the 35-inch tires worth the cost and time?
This largely depends on why you want to upgrade. For a person who loves extreme off-roading, the 35-inch tires offer more ground clearance and are crucial for him.
Again, most people consider small tires to be out of place and weird, especially when using a vehicle such as a Jeep Wrangler, Volkswagen Amok, Ford Ranger, or Chevy trucks.
We must also say that smaller tires are not to be trusted when driving through rough terrain, wet surface, or frozen ground. So, upgrading to 35-inch tires is worth it.
How much impact do 35-inch tires have on gas mileage?
You can expect about 1-2 MPG difference after upgrading to the 35-inch tires. However, this also depends on other factors, including the adjustments and new accessories added to the vehicle.
The larger the new tire diameter, circumference, and width, the greater the unsprung weight, which pulls down the car’s fuel economy, performance, and gearing. You can read more about this in our post about bigger tires and their impact on gas mileage.
How much lift is required to install 33-inch tires on my truck?
If you have an IFS (independent front suspension) truck, a minimum of 2.5-3-inch lift with additional trimming of fenders will be required. But if your car has a Solid Front Axle (SFA), it will accommodate a 33-inch tire more easily with fewer modifications.
In this 33 vs 35 tires side by side comparison post, we have captured the most important things to think about before dropping additional unsprung load into your car. The most important thing to understand is how the adjustments will affect your car and its performance. From higher fuel economy to additional strain on your drivetrain, are you ready for these consequences?
Remember that the changes needed to fit the 33” or 35” tires to your car will also depend on the car and intended use. If you have a Solid Front Axle car, fitting the new 33” or 35” should be a lot easier compared to another with independent front suspension (IFS). No matter the required adjustments, we recommend that you have a professional mechanic help with the job.