Monday, June 19, 2017

245/70r17 Tires on Cherokee KL Latitude - AD1 4X4

Upgrading to 245/70r17 tires on a  Cherokee KL Latitude - AD1 4x4

Background on selecting these tires

I installed a budget lift on my 2016 KL Latitude in order to upgrade to larger tires. This lift is covered in my previous post here Lifted Cherokee KL Latitude on a Budget - AD1 - 4x4.

The research I did online revealed plenty of examples of 245/65r17 tires, which is a 30" tire, fitting easily and without issue after this lift. What was not so clear in my research, however, was that 245/70r17 tires, a 30.5" tire would fit. There were a lot of posts that said that they "should" fit, or would "probably" fit, but none that I could find of someone actually doing so. I found one example of a guy swapping out the existing trailing arms for Trailhawk trailing arms, which would shift the wheel into the center of the hub and provide enough space to allow for this tire.

The danger area for increasing tire size using the stock trailing arms ends up being the space between the tire and the front of the rear hub.

I was adding an entire inch of tire to my existing setup. The plastic portion of the wheel hub where the likely rubbing would occur, however, had some give to it. Pressing down on it, it appeared that I could get well over 1 1/4" of space here if needed.

Feeling confident, I decided to be bold and order the tires I wanted online. I purchased the 245/70r17 Firestone Destination AT Special Edition with camo pattern sidewalls. The specs on these were 30.6", well that was a tad bigger than 30.5", but I went for it and had them delivered to my house.

The night before I would have these installed at my local tire shop, I started to get this nagging feeling. It occurred to me that I was calculating the difference of one inch on a USED TIRE! These tires had 30K miles of wear on them. My new tires looked enormous when they arrived! I half prepared myself to be embarrassed at the tire shop and possibly sent away.

I prepped the guy at the tire shop as best I could. I informed him that I expected a tight fit, some possible rubbing, and that I even expected that I would be doing some grinding to make them fit. The tire shop was willing to mount, knowing that I knew what the risks were.

I was relieved to see the vehicle brought down from the lift and driven to the parking lot. The gap, however, was almost nonexistent. The "fuzz" of any new tire was actually touching. I experienced some obvious rubbing a few times on the short drive home.
tire rub cherokee latitude ad1
This is the teency (in addition to weency) gap that
I was left with after tires mounted.
I also took the vehicle to work that day as-is. Most of the rubbing occurred off the line, but certain instances of torque created a rub as well. This was not extreme rubbing, the plastic had plenty of give to it so there would be no tire damage.

Some corrections would be in order. I was prepared to get the grinding wheel out and go to town, but this would not be necessary.

Here is what I HOPED would work, which did

Rear tires would need to be removed to access the area. This photos shows the areas of mild rubbing.

The area deepest into the wheel well, at the edge of the plastic, I simply removed.

Next I drilled a hole in the plastic where the tire rubs.

Looking deep in the wheel well, we see an existing hole in the trailing arm that can be utilized for a sturdy zip tie.

In this horrendous photo we can see the tightening down of the zip tie, which forces the wheel-well plastic back and away from the tire to the maximum amount, without having to cut and grind further.

After replacing the wheel and lowering the vehicle, I was left with a much more forgiving gap between tire and wheel-well covering.

In testing the vehicle on my normal commute, and even some experiments on curbs, I have experienced no more rubbing with these larger, all terrain tires that I very much wanted to be able to fit on my vehicle. Time will tell if there will be issues during off-road situations. Let it be noted that most of my off-roading is done on the beach. I will have a better opportunity to test the limits of this setup on an upcoming Colorado excursion.

The best part is that, in addition to the budget lift previously discussed, I added an additional inch (approximately) to my ride height.

Final numbers post lift and AT tires:

Front measurement went from stock, no lift height of 30 5/8" to 32 5/8"

Rear measurement went from stock, no lift height of 31.5" to 33 3/8"

There was involved process to get to this point. All quite doable with some spare time and some common tools. The end results are very worth it to me with the new, proud stance of the Jeep and better offroad grip of AT tires. I have much improved clearance and may even be able to do some limited tinkering under the Jeep without jacking it up.

Video now available of this project: 

245/70r17 on Cherokee KL Latitude AD1

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