The Complete Guide To 33″ Tires (285/75R17) on the Toyota Tacoma – Everything You Need to Know Before Running 33″ Tires
For reference, we are using the 285/70R17 Yokohama Geolandar X-AT which is a true 33″ tire measuring out at 33.1″. The X-ATs have a diameter of 33.1″, a width of 11.7″, comes in a load range E, and mounts up to a 7.50″ – 9.00″ wide wheel.
It’s important to note the X-ATs are a true 33″ tire because most of the 285/70 tires on the market, such as the BFG KO2, measure out at 32.7″. When considering 33″ tires, consider the actual size of the tire as not all 33″ tires are created equal. This is important when it comes to topics like mounting a running a full-size spare; fitting a 32.7″ tire is going to be easier than stuffing a 33.1″ tire.
Factory Tire Size on Tacoma
The factory is relative. It depends on what model you buy and how your truck comes “off the lot”. We see anything from a 245/75/16 to a 265/70/17 and it all comes down to what model and trim package you get.
With pre-facelift 2nd gens, you have three options regarding tire size: 245/75/16, 265/70/16, and 265/65/17 depending on if you had a limited trim package or not. Post facelifts offer the same size with an additional 265/60/18 size available from the factory. With the 3rd Gen Tacoma, you have many of these same options off the lot, and in some cases, a dealership here and there will put 275s or 285s on a rig. It’s rare, but you do see it.
The 2WD trucks came with slightly smaller tires for their smaller size. The 2.7L 2WD came in only one size 215/70/15 and the 4.0L XRunner came in a slightly bigger 255/45/18.
Why Bigger Tires?
Bigger tires will negatively impact your gas mileage as well as your power, so why is everyone going as large as possible?
Why bigger Tires on a Tacoma?
Not only do bigger tires look great and add a more aggressive stance to your truck, but they give you additional ground clearance, and typically a better/wider footprint that helps your truck perform better off-road.
When you install a suspension lift, you are lifting the frame and body of the vehicle. With a body lift you are lifting just the body, nothing else. Both styles of lift are designed to give you more ground clearance whether it’s on your frame or your body. But what about your axles? The solution is bigger tires.
Bigger tires essentially increase the distance of the ground and the lowest part of the truck, most likely the axle or control arms. This comes in handy if you do a good amount of off-roading since the larger tires will allow you to go over obstacles rather than into them.
Another benefit of a larger-sized tire is more traction. This one is pretty self-explanatory, but you will see a difference when you air down. When your tires are running a lower PSI (20 PSI rather than 40 PSI for example) you gain more traction by increasing floatation. Now throw a bigger tire into the mix while running a lower PSI and you find yourself even more traction.
Are 33s the Perfect Size?
A lot of us are going to want to keep our trucks daily driver-friendly. This means that jumping from stock tires to 35s could be a bit of a dramatic change, but going to a 33″ tire could work out perfectly. 285s are a great size because they are noticeably bigger than stock, and require little to no trimming depending on the lift you’re running.
Let’s talk about power. When you go to a bigger tire size you will probably notice a bit of a power loss depending on your gear ratio. The good news is since 33s are only slightly bigger than stock tires, the power loss is hardly noticeable. If you were going to jump to a 35-inch tire, it would be a different story. Regardless of a 33″ tire or a 35″ tire, you should consider re-gearing at the 33″ stage.
It really comes down to what you use your Tacoma for. If you do a lot of off-roading then you are probably going to want to re-gear right away. If you would rather cruise dirt roads and do easy to moderate trails, then 33s without re-gearing is not unheard of – it’s just going to overtime be harder on your drivetrain, chassis, and 3rd member factory gears.
33″ Tires and Regearing?
Should you Re-Gear if you run 33″ Tires on your Tacoma?
The power loss from stock tires to 285/70R17 is minimal. However, it is noticeable on the freeway especially going up hills at higher altitudes which is why we are considering a re-gear.
Stock gears on 2nd gen Tacomas with the 4.0L is 3:73 which is the same for the final gear in 6spds and 5spds as well. For 4 bangers the gear ratio goes up to 4:10 and the standard trans have the same final gear much like the v6 models. For 3rd gen Tacos, the stock gear ratio for the 2.7L 5spd and v6 automatic is 3:909. Whereas the stock ratio for 2.7L automatic and 3.5L 6spd is 4:30.
Re-gearing allows you to be able to move bigger tires without adding any extra load to the engine. This is why a re-gear isn’t a bad idea even with 33s especially since the stock ratio for our 2nd gen is 3:73. The best ratio to re-gear, if you have the 4.0L to with 33s, would be 4:10 or 4:56. 4:10s would make the truck feel like it was on stock tires, and you’ll get around 200 more RPMs at 70mph. 4:56 gears will definitely be more noticeable as you should see around a 300 RPM gain at 70mph.
Third gen Tacomas would be slightly different even though it’s the same concept and a lot of it depends on tire size. With 33s, instead of going with 4:10s, you would go with 4:30s if you’re truck didn’t already come with them. If it does come with 4:30s from the factory then you would most likely go with 4:56 for a stock tire feel or 4:88s for a bit more RPM.
33s and Lift Kits
33″ Tires with no lift?
We aren’t saying it’s impossible to fit 33s with no lift, but you will definitely need to cut or trim something. You should be good with a 2-3″ lift depending on if you clear the control arms or not.
Technically suspension lifts don’t clear tires for use off-road, but they can help. When you lift your truck, you are changing the static ride height of your body. For example, while daily driving you may not rub, but off-road when you stuff that tire up into your wheel well, you’re probably going to rub. Without a lift, this rubbing would be much worse on and off the road.
To answer the infamous question: you can’t fit 33s on a stock Tacoma without a lift or without some modification (fender liner push back, CMC (cab mount chop), rocker panel cap trimming, fender trimming, body trimming, etc.). With that said, you can still bolt the wheel/tire onto your hub no problem – you just might have some trimming to do. Even though you gain more height, the size of the inner fender stays the same so something has to give.
We are going to do a follow-up here and mount 33″ tires on a stock 3rd Gen Tacoma without a lift and see exactly what we need to trim. That truck will be momentarily donated by Snail Trail 4×4.
It’s also important to realize that no matter what size tires you decide to put under your Tacoma, it’s important they don’t rub. If they are rubbing and you don’t address the issue, you are likely going to break something or tear something off… eventually.
33″ Tires with 3″ Lift
After mounting, running, and flexing our up/down travel on the Bilstein 5100 kit 2.8″ front w/ Icon Add a Leaf 2″ rear – it has cleared everything quite well. After installing the tires we had ZERO rubbings on the fender liners and fender well in general on-road. That included full-lock reverse plus the curb drop test. The tires completely cleared on-road.
Off-road driving is a bit of a different story. Just driving on a rough dirt road wasn’t bad at all, but the tires did rub a bit when they were stuffed into the wheel well. They barely rub on the inside of the fender near the pinch weld and it wouldn’t take much trimming at all to 100% clear 33s.
After daily driving the Tacoma for a couple of days with the 33s, the only spot it rubs is on the control arms. An easy and cheap fix is going to be 1.25″ hub-centric wheel spacers. It looks like we have plenty of room between the tire and the front bumper as well as the back of the fender.
We were actually pretty surprised that the tires didn’t rub anywhere on the body during daily driving. There actually looks like there is plenty of room between the tire and the front bumper and fender.
After taking the Taco off-road, the rubbing is still very minimal. At full flex, it does rub on the back part of the inner fender, but not much.
Clearing the Upper Control Arms
So far the only noticeable spot we rub is on the SPC upper control arms (UCAs). Driving straight they barely come in contact and it isn’t noticeable at all. Driving at parking lot speeds and turning is extremely noticeable and quite unpleasant. While driving at highway speeds and turning you feel a slight vibration, but it really doesn’t feel that bad.
One fix would be to add some wheel spacers to move the tire away from the hub. As long as everything is torqued to spec, hub-centric wheel spacers are completely safe for on and off-road use. The most common size is 1.25″ and that’s all you would need to completely clear the upper control arm.
The alternative option would be to buy a set of wheels with a more aggressive offset. Offset essentially does the same thing wheel spacers do, pushes the outside edge of the tire away from the hub.
Wheel Offset or Spacers
Offset wheels and spacers both have their pros and cons. You may have heard someone talk about how bad wheel spacers are for your wheel bearings and all that, technically the same goes for offset wheels. At the end of the day, the outside edge of the tire is getting moved farther away from the hub.
This doesn’t mean you should forgo getting 33s. Smaller wheel spacers and less offset are perfectly fine for your truck so long as everything is installed correctly. This is especially true for hub-centric wheels and wheel spacers since the room for error is greatly reduced.
On the contrary, if you run too much offset (negative) you are going to run into rubbing issues on the body. This is due to the change in the geometry of the wheel in relation to the body. Parts of the body that may be affected include, front bumper, fender liner, mudflap, and even the body mount.
Obviously, wheels are going to be the more expensive of the two options. However, hub-centric spacers aren’t that cheap either. A pair of two usually goes for upwards of $100.
Factory Wheel Size Offset
The reason we rub on the control arm is due to the amount of positive offset we have. Stock Tacoma wheels come in a wide variety of sizes which means different offsets.
TRD Offroad and TRD Sports tend to have +30 offset whereas the TRD Beadlock lineup only has +10. The TRD Pro wheel lineup has +4. And a majority of the SR5 and Limited wheels come with +30 or the occasional +25 offset.
Depending on what wheels your Tacoma already has on there, you may not even need spacers or aftermarket wheels.
What type of tires you go with is going to play a big role in how your truck handles on and off the road. You may come to find that a set of 33″ mud terrains rubs where your 33″ all terrains did not. Mud terrains tend to be slightly bigger in size due to the bigger, more aggressive tread.
33″ mud terrains also tend to weigh more, meaning the jump to 33s will definitely be more noticeable. You won’t necessarily need to re-gear, but the on-road driving may not be as plush as with a set of all terrains.
Can 285 Fit in the Spare Location?
So you decided to make the leap up to a larger size, and now you want to know what it takes to fit a 33″ tire in the spare tire holder? Our 285/70/17 all-terrain tires barely fit in the stock location and that’s aired down to 10 psi. It was able to fit and be drivable but it was definitely tight. If you were to go up another size you would most likely need some modification to the spare location in order for it to fit. An alternative option is to get some type of bed tire carrier or a swingout.
A quality set of tires can definitely make a world of a difference when it comes to off-road performance. Size doesn’t necessarily matter but it can make your life a bit easier on the trail. 33s are the best all-around tire size for daily driving and off-road use. They require very minimal work to make them fit, yet provide more ground clearance than stock tires do. Not to mention they look right at home with a 3″ lift.
After daily driving the Tacoma for a couple of days, so far the only spot we rub is on the upper control arms with our 3″ lift. Wheel spacers have been ordered and should be more than enough to solve that issue. But again, lift doesn’t clear tires so don’t be surprised if you don’t rub on the road but rub a bit off-road.