TOP 10 TRUCK WHEEL QUESTIONS!
The Basics to Keeping Your Truck Rolling in Style
It makes sense that you would have some questions about one of the most important features of your truck. We’ve scoured the Internet to find the most asked questions about truck wheels, and as it turns out, we’ve asked the same questions ourselves from time to time. Whether you need info about fitment or torque specs, we’ve got you covered with some basic guidance on how to get your truck rolling in style as safely as possible.
Will universal bolt pattern wheels fit on my truck?
Over the years, we’ve all seen those posts on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace advertising “universal” wheels that are supposedly guaranteed to fit your truck. So, is it legit? No, absolutely not. Here’s why. Your truck has a bare minimum of requirements for any given wheel to fit, not the least of which is the bolt pattern. When folks online are trying to sell their wheels and call them “universal,” they’re just referring to the wheels having two different bolt patterns on the same wheel.
If you have a six-lug truck and are looking at wheels with 10 bolt holes (meaning two five-lug patterns), those obviously won’t fit. And even if you find six-lug “universal” wheels, 1) they might still not be the right bolt pattern, and 2) there are so many other variables (such as wheel diameter, width, offset, and brake clearance) that you have to be absolutely sure that they’ll work before you drop your hard-earned cash.
When in doubt, break out a tape measure, or even better yet, see if you can test-fit the wheels on your truck.
What size wheels does my truck have?
The quickest way to tell what diameter wheels you have is to check your tire sidewall. On it, you’ll see some strange numbers and letters that look something like either of the following: 285/30R22 or 35×12.50R22. In both cases, that last number (22 in these examples) is the wheel diameter, measured in inches. If you need to know the width, there are a couple of ways to do it. You can either measure from inner bead to bead, or if your tires are already mounted, measure the entire width of the wheel (not the tire), then subtract one inch from the measurement to account for the typical 1/2-inch (per side) distance between the tire bead and outer wheel edge.
Can wheels be fixed or refurbished?
Oh fo’ sho’, but let’s not make this a blanket statement, OK? Wheels with minor curb rash and cosmetic imperfections can certainly be repaired by a reputable wheel restoration specialist, but we don’t recommend attempting to fix a wheel that has sustained major damage such as a large bend or crack. Some of you aren’t going to listen, and that’s on you, but unless you have a wheel with a replaceable outer barrel, it’s always best to buy a new replacement.
How so I choose wheels for my truck?
First off, you’ve gotta decide what look you’re going for. Do you want a slammed door-dragger, a sky-high monster, or more than likely, something in between those two extremes? If you plan on tucking some rim, you have to make sure that the wheels you’re looking at will sit in the fenderwells and give you some room to turn. If you want to lift your truck, you need enough “poke” to widen your track, which helps add some stability to your top-heavy ride. Once you’ve figured out the basics of what you’re looking for, you can dive deeper and go into more detail, such as sizes, offsets, etc. Of course, you’ll also want to check out the trucks featured throughout this very mag, paying extra attention to their wheel setups. Keep in mind, though, that some trucks have been modified in order for ultra-wide or large diameter wheels to fit, such as having narrowed axle housings or narrowed control arms.
Is it illegal for wheels to stick out?
Well, that depends. How far out are we talking a foot? Then yeah, that’s illegal in most cases. In general, though, you’re usually good (within reason) as long as you’re also running a set of mud flaps that adequately cover your tire tread. The main thing to remember here is that no one wants rocks or mud getting kicked up onto their windshields, so we can’t get mad about any laws that limit your wheels from sticking out. We’ve seen plenty of quick release setups on mud flaps, making it easy to remove them at shows. So, if your wheels stick out quite a bit, you’ll want to check your local laws. There’s no harm in asking your local PD about what’s allowed in your area.
Is wheel camber illegal?
if your wheels stick out quite a bit, you’ll want to check your local laws. There’s no harm in asking your local PD about what’s allowed in your area.
This is another one of those “it depends” scenarios. A lot of performance vehicles leave the factory with a small amount of negative camber, so it’s not illegal in and of itself. However, if you’re trying to be some Oni Kyan (Japanese for “demon camber”) bad ass on the highway, you can be pretty sure that it won’t be long before you see red and blue flashing lights in your rearview mirror. We’re all for the freedom to modify your ride, but if you’re sporting a half inch of tire contact patch and your center caps are facing the sky, we’d recommend putting a fresh box of donuts on your passenger seat every morning on the way to work just in case.
Do I need new lug nuts for my aftermarket wheels?
If in doubt, check the wheel manufacturer’s website for its recommendation on which lug nuts to use.
Oh, you betcha. In most cases, factory lug nuts aren’t the right type needed for aftermarket wheels, which usually require a 60-degree tapered lug nut. Attempting to use factory lug nuts may result in poor thread engagement and wheel imbalance, among other issues. If in doubt, check the wheel manufacturer’s website for its recommendation on which lug nuts to use.
Do I need to buy hubcentric wheels?
Yes and no. Ideally, the wheels you buy are hubcentric to your truck and will therefore ensure that your wheels are perfectly centered relative to your wheel hubs. However, some wheel manufacturers just don’t offer hubcentric wheels and instead rely on your tapered lug nuts to center your wheels (often called “lugcentric”). This is often sufficient as long as there is no resulting vibration, but not as precise as the hubcentric method. Aftermarket hubcentric rings are available in various sizes to help perfectly center your wheels on your hubs, though, which is highly recommended if your wheels aren’t hubcentric from the get-go.
What tools do I need to install wheels?
First off, avoid using an impact gun unless you’re also using a proper torque stick/bar mounted to it. Otherwise, you’ll risk overtightening your lug nuts and possibly damaging your wheels. A regular torque wrench is the tried-and-true way to go, and if you can swing the purchase of a non-marring socket, all the better. If not, just be careful to not scratch your wheels and remember to torque the lug nuts in a criss-cross fashion.
How do I find out the torque specs for my wheels?
Believe it or not, wheel torque specifications are set by your truck’s manufacturer, and usually not specified by the wheel manufacturer. This is because the amount of torque needed depends on the construction of the wheel studs themselves, not necessarily the wheel’s construction. So, check your owner’s manual if you happen to have it, and if not try to find a copy online. If all else fails, most big chain tire shops can give you the info you need.
What is meant by speed rating?
The speed rating of a tire indicates the speed category (or range of speeds) at which the tire can carry a load under specified service conditions. The speed rating system used today was developed in Europe in response to the need to control the safe performance of tires at standardized speeds. A letter from A to Z symbolizes a tire's certified speed rating, ranging from 5 km/h (3mph) to above 300 km/h (186 mph). This rating system, listed below, describes the top speed for which a tire is certified. It does not indicate the total performance capability of a tire.
When this speed rating system was originally developed, the Unlimited V category of over 210 km/h (130 mph) was the top speed rating a tire could achieve.
SPEED RATINGSpeed Symbol Speed (km/h) Speed (mph) A1 5 3 A2 10 6 A3 15 9 A4 20 12 A5 25 16 A6 30 19 A8 40 25 B 50 31 C 60 37 D 65 40 E 70 43 F 80 50 G 90 56 J 100 62 K 110 68 L 120 75 M 130 81 N 140 87 P 150 94 Q 160 100 R 170 106 S 180 112 T 190 118 U 200 124 H 210 130 V 240 149 W 270 168 Y 300 186
As manufacturers made more tires that did not fit this category, it was necessary to better regulate performance at standardized speeds to ensure safety. The Limited V category of 250 km/h (149 mph) was then created, and the Z speed rating was added as the top speed rating that a tire could achieve. W and Y limited speed symbols have been added as higher speed categories.
Always consult the manufacturer for the maximum speed of Unlimited Z tires. Speed rating is identified as a part of the tire's sizing or service description.
In the latest attempt to standardize tire designations, all ratings except Unlimited ZR incorporate the speed symbol and load index as the tire's service description. For example:
205/60R15 91V205 = Section Width in Millimeters 60 = Aspect Ratio R = Radial Construction 15 = Rim Diameter in Inches 91 = Load Index (Service
Description) V = Speed Symbol
When "ZR" appears in the size designation with the service description, the maximum speed is as indicated by the service description:
EXAMPLESTire Designation Maximum Speed P275/40ZR17 93W 270 km/h (168 mph) P275/40ZR17 93Y 300 km/h (186 mph)
For tires having a maximum speed capability above 240 km/h (149 mph), a "ZR" may appear in the size designation. For tires having a maximum speed capability above 300 km/h (186 mph), a "ZR" must appear in the size designation. Consult the tire manufacturer for maximum speed when there is no service description.
TOP 10 TRUCK WHEEL QUESTIONS!
Top 10 Tire Care Questions, Answered
If you are interested in sending in a Guest Blogger Submission,welcome to write for us!