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Tacoma Wheels: Getting the Proper Shoes for the Job

Tacoma Wheels: Getting the Proper Shoes for the Job

The first thing most Tacoma owners do is install bigger wheels and tires along with a lift kit. While it seems like a super simple concept, upgrading wheels and tires can turn into a nightmare if you’re underprepared. At first, all the terms and questions the counter guy will throw at you can really catch you off guard. Don’t worry, though, there’s really not that much to it. And once you get the hang of it, you’ll have a blast picking the right wheel and tire package for your Tacoma.

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Not all wheels are created equal whether that's in appearances or strength. Off-road vehicles take a beating, and especially any load-bearing components. Upgrading to a stronger wheel for your Tacoma's shoes will ensure you don't waffle a rim on more complicated trails.

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Understanding the Basics

Before picking a wheel and tire package that would look good on your Tacoma, you need to read up on the measurements used and understand what they mean. If you blindly purchase a wheel and tire package without knowing what you’re looking at, you can easily walk away with a ton of money invested in a package that won’t even fit your truck.

Offset & Backspacing

Offset refers to the position of the mounting pad of the wheel in relevance to the centerline of the wheel. To understand the readings you must know that a 0 offset means the mounting pad is located in the direct center of the wheel.

A positive offset brings the mounting pad out toward the outside of the wheel and a negative brings the mounting pad in. That would mean that positive offset wheels would bring the wheel in closer to the truck while a negative offset will bring it outward. 

When you lift a truck up or add wider wheels and tires to the setup, you’ll generally be moving toward a negative offset. Backspacing refers to the same measurement, though, on today’s market, this measurement is rarely used if at all.

Tire Size Reading

Tires can be a bit of a trick considering there are two different readings you need to familiarize yourself with. Manufacturers like to bounce back and forth with almost no pattern. For someone trying to learn this can be quite frustrating. Not to worry though, both are very easy to follow and are simply the metric and standard version of tire sizing. 

Metric: Obviously, the metric system is taking over and most tires today use the metric system to declare their sizing. A typical tire measurement for a Tacoma would read out as 195/75R14. The first number we see in the measurement refers to the width of the tire; in this case the tire is 195mm wide. 

The next measurement refers to the sidewall. Here we find that the sidewall of the tire is 75% of the width of the tire. The final number tells you the rim the tire will fit on and for this example, the tire fits on a 14-inch rim. To find the overall height of the tire, you need to do some math. You need to find 75% of 195mm, multiply it by two, convert it to inches and then add that measurement to the rim size and you will get the height of the tire. In this case, the formula would look something like this: 

  • 195 x 0.75= 146.25
  • 146.25 x 2 = 292.5
  • 292mm=11.5in
  • 11.5 14= 25.5 

In this particular example, the overall tire height is 25.5 inches. You can go through the runaround and find the measurement the long way around or you could use a tire size conversion calculator. Love it or hate it, this is the most common method used for declaring tire sizing. 

Standard: Luckily for all of us, there are still standard measurements used for declaring tire sizes. A standard measurement would look something like this: 31x10.5R15. The first number tells us how tall the tire is in inches. In this case, the tire is 31 inches tall. The next number tells us how wide the tire is. Here we find the tire is 10.5 inches wide. The final number, of course, tells us how big the rim is, and this time the rim is 15 inches. Why would they ever abandon this method?

Wheel Integrity

When banging your Tacoma around off-road, you want to make sure you have wheels designed for off-road use. They will be constructed of thicker materials and will be resistant to bending or cracking under stress. Of course, you will have the choice of either aluminum or steel wheels. Both can be used off-road but there are benefits to either design. 

Aluminum: Most aftermarket wheels are going to be made of aluminum. The benefit of aluminum wheels is that they are lightweight. This makes it easier for the vehicle to stop and accelerate, though the price point of aluminum wheels makes them less desirable than steel wheels. 

Steel: Steel wheels are cheaper and generally stronger than aluminum wheels making them an off-road favorite. Another point for steel wheels is the fact that the off-road variants are very basic and if they get all scratched up on your Tacoma it’s no big deal.

Factory Tacoma Wheel and Tire Sizes

When selecting tire sizes, you need to establish your baseline. Knowing the factory tire size gives you a good idea of how far you can push things before moving to a lift kit or any other type of suspension modification. To speed things up, refer to the chart below to find the factory tire and rim size of your Tacoma.‚Äč

Year Range Bolt Pattern Rim Size Tire Size
2015-2018 6x139.7 16x7 - 18x7.5 245/75R16 - 265/60R18
2005-2014 6x139.7 16x7 - 18x8 245/75R16 - 255/45R18
2001-2004 6x139.7 15x6 - 16x7 205/75R15 - 265/70R16
1995-2000 5x114.3 - 6x139.7 14x5 - 15x7 195/75R14 - 265/70R15

Lift Height Tire Tolerance

Bigger wheels and tires increase ground clearance; it’s that simple. Lift kits work to allow the larger wheels and tires to fit underneath the Tacoma. Sure, they do serve other important functions but each lift size will allow for a particular tire size to fit underneath. So what tires fit with which lift kits on a Tacoma? 

Leveling Kit Tire Clearance

  •  30-32“Height x 10.5” Width

 3-4” Lift Kit Tire Clearance

  •  32-33” Height x 11.50” Width

 5-6” Lift Kit Tire Clearance

  •  33-35” Height x 12.50” Width

Ballparkin’ It

So where should you be looking? It’s great and all to have the tools but what about inspiration? Well, that all comes down to the type of Tacoma you’re looking to build. If you want to do some overlanding and rarely beat on the truck, you want to stay mild. If you’re going all out off-road, you’ll want to do things a little more extreme.

Overlanding: For overlanding, you won’t need to milk the truck for everything it’s got. Instead, you’ll want it to perform well all around. With a Tacoma, a 3” lift goes a long way. Underneath setting the truck up with 33” tires; something like a 33x10.50R17 would do well. You still have plenty of sidewall while maintaining stability and style.

Off-Roader: For a solid off-road package, the same set up you would throw on an overlander would suffice. Though, reaching for the 6-inch lift with 34” tires on a 17 inch rim with 10.5 inches of tread will really help the truck crawl along without risking binding up.

Fitment includes: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, Pre-Runner, X-Runner, SR, SR-5, TRD-Sport, TRD-Off-Road, Limited, TRD-Pro