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(2nd gen)98 explorer LOWERED and aggressive

I have a lowered 98 explorer awd, (2 inches) What's the most aggressive wheel set up wheel size,width,offset,backspacing? Considering 18s or 19s as this will be for street/drag. I want to get as much width as possible without rubbing front and rear as well. Not running slicks more like nitto 888r or something similar because I want to still corner lol....
 



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97Sandbox

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What size tires are you planning on running with the 17x9+16 rims?

I built a spreadsheet a while back to calculate rim and tire backspacing and protrusion so I could think through spacing of various wheel and tire combos.

If you're planning on 275/55R17s, I believe your tires will protrude 0.63" from stock 235 tires on 15x7ET12 rims. Your rim itself will come out 0.84" further than stock, but that doesn't really matter because the tire still sticks out further. IMO those will not stick out "too far," I think they'll just barely stick out of the fender if they do at all.
 



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CDW6212R

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What size tires are you planning on running with the 17x9+16 rims?

I built a spreadsheet a while back to calculate rim and tire backspacing and protrusion so I could think through spacing of various wheel and tire combos.

If you're planning on 275/55R17s, I believe your tires will protrude 0.63" from stock 235 tires on 15x7ET12 rims. Your rim itself will come out 0.84" further than stock, but that doesn't really matter because the tire still sticks out further. IMO those will not stick out "too far," I think they'll just barely stick out of the fender if they do at all.

I would be very happy with that, and yes the tires are 275/55's. I couldn't mount them until the wheels are finished, but I did test fit one on each end of my truck. They seemed great on the rear, but on the front the rim did notably come out past the fender. Knowing the tire will protrude more, I found the CL trim Sport in a local yard and got the two front flares(planning to sand and paint them to match).
 






97Sandbox

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Technically the "XL" trim Sport had no flares (check this out). But I know what you're talking about the mid-level "Sport" trim Sport flares.

I had those flares on my '00 when I bought it and plan to reinstall them once I get wider wheels. Those flares are nice because they mount inside the fender lip instead of through outside of the fender (like Expedition and other high trim Sports).

I'll be looking forward to seeing your new setup once you get everything together! In the meantime you've got me thinking it's finally time to pull the trigger on some 17x9s and 275/55 Toyo Proxes...
 






Fix4Dirt

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Technically the "XL" trim Sport had no flares (check this out). But I know what you're talking about the mid-level "Sport" trim Sport flares.
yep, according to wikipedia: "In contrast to five-door Explorers, second-generation three-door Ford Explorers shifted to a separate trim nomenclature. While the XL remained the base model (largely for fleets), most examples were produced under a single Sport trim level (again equipped similarly to the XLT). For 1995, Ford replaced the 3-door Eddie Bauer with the Expedition trim"

they really didnt make many of the non flare sports or the expedition ones, and i scour CL FB etc all the time...
 






CDW6212R

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Technically the "XL" trim Sport had no flares (check this out). But I know what you're talking about the mid-level "Sport" trim Sport flares.

I had those flares on my '00 when I bought it and plan to reinstall them once I get wider wheels. Those flares are nice because they mount inside the fender lip instead of through outside of the fender (like Expedition and other high trim Sports).

I'll be looking forward to seeing your new setup once you get everything together! In the meantime you've got me thinking it's finally time to pull the trigger on some 17x9s and 275/55 Toyo Proxes...

Exactly, I bought those flares because they mount with several screws to the inner edge of the fender.

It's also interesting that I was shopping online due to the Prime day, didn't see anything I needed, but I checked tires prices. The Toyo Proxes ST III is $185 still, and the few reviews are mixed between "it's great on dry and wet pavement", and "they're terrible in the rain and wear fast."
 






Fix4Dirt

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It's also interesting that I was shopping online due to the Prime day, didn't see anything I needed, but I checked tires prices. The Toyo Proxes ST III is $185 still, and the few reviews are mixed between "it's great on dry and wet pavement", and "they're terrible in the rain and wear fast."
seems the largest discounts are on commonly gifted items like toys etc. though i did find some good stuff on sale like light bar etc, but not as many as toys sadly :p
 






97Sandbox

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The Toyo Proxes ST III is $185 still, and the few reviews are mixed between "it's great on dry and wet pavement", and "they're terrible in the rain and wear fast."
Interesting, I haven't dug into the Toyo reviews for a while.

The General Grabber UHP looks like another good (although slightly pricier) option. The main complaint with those is noise, but that's something I've come to expect with performance tires (the winter tires on my Civic are loud enough I once thought my front wheel bearings were bad!).
 






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I agree offset is not to be used as a measure of clearance inboard. Even backspacing alone isn't enough because of the need to factor in sidewall bulge which is largely dependent on the tire (e.g. the 275 will bulge ~10mm more each side than the 255 if the rim is the same).

I've been trying to be more mindful of maintaining an offset close to the stock 12mm (most rims I've been seriously considering are in the 0-24mm range) in order to avoid introducing steering issues and excessive front suspension component wear. The latter is more of a concern when running towards the negative offset direction as I understand it.

The challenge is that most of the rims I like are all further offset in the positive direction (24-40mm) which is where the clearance issues arise hence the need for spacers. You bring up good points about the longer studs, Don. I'm RWD, so I'm less concerned about damaging a front hub when installing studs but after thinking about the mechanics at play, the longer studs will certainly be more prone to deflecting during a launch -- and breaking off a rear wheel at speed doesn't sound fun.

To clarify, Don, the most "aggressive" setup you've run was a 265 tire on an 18x8.5 at effectively a 28.65mm offset? And being lowered ~2.5" in the front your only issue was the tall 60 ratio tire rubbing the inner fender? That's pretty impressive to me, I'd expect way more rubbing with that large of an offset and a 265 tire.

If I'm thinking about it right, your effective rim backspacing would have been about 5.88" [(8.5"+1")/2+28.65mm] and the tires would have been inboard from the hub 6.84" [(265mm+1")/2+28.65mm]. With a 275 tire on a 9" rim with +24 offset, rim backspacing would be 5.94" and inner sidewall would be roughly 6.85" from the hub. I can't say the 17" rim won't have other clearance issues, but it looks to me that if your setup cleared, the 275/55R17+24 should too.
do you think +25 on a 18x9 or 19x9 would work without rubbing ? I've found a few 18x9 and 19x9 +25
 






Whacka

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What size tires are you planning on running with the 17x9+16 rims?

I built a spreadsheet a while back to calculate rim and tire backspacing and protrusion so I could think through spacing of various wheel and tire combos.

If you're planning on 275/55R17s, I believe your tires will protrude 0.63" from stock 235 tires on 15x7ET12 rims. Your rim itself will come out 0.84" further than stock, but that doesn't really matter because the tire still sticks out further. IMO those will not stick out "too far," I think they'll just barely stick out of the fender if they do at all.
can you send me your spreadsheet?!?!?!
 






CDW6212R

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do you think +25 on a 18x9 or 19x9 would work without rubbing ? I've found a few 18x9 and 19x9 +25

Those sizes with a good fat tire like 275mm, will probably rub on the inside a little too much, either not quite touch, or just barely. Either way there wouldn't be enough clearance for driving, the tires flex inboard and outboard going around corners. I'd expect to require a spacer, the 1/4" size might be enough. I drove mine very carefully when I first installed the 265/60/18's, it felt like about 3/8" of gap from the upper BJ's.
 






Whacka

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Those sizes with a good fat tire like 275mm, will probably rub on the inside a little too much, either not quite touch, or just barely. Either way there wouldn't be enough clearance for driving, the tires flex inboard and outboard going around corners. I'd expect to require a spacer, the 1/4" size might be enough. I drove mine very carefully when I first installed the 265/60/18's, it felt like about 3/8" of gap from the upper BJ's.
so with +20 it would? :O
 






97Sandbox

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do you think +25 on a 18x9 or 19x9 would work without rubbing ? I've found a few 18x9 and 19x9 +25
I really can't speak to what will/won't rub as I haven't tried any of this out on my Sport yet, I've just been comparing sizes. I'm planning to try 17x9ET24 rims with 275 tires but expecting they may need small spacers to avoid rubbing the swaybar in front.

can you send me your spreadsheet?!?!?!
Yeah, let me create a copy that's not so messy and I'll PM you. Please note it's not a predictor of fit, just a tool for comparing overall dimensions of rim and tire combos.

There will definitely be some differences up front between a '98 AWD front end and a '00 RWD front end on '01 Sport spindles. I'll also be trying to clear an Addco swaybar and coilovers once I finally get the time to install everything. It might be a while, but I'll be posting lots of pics and details about the setup once I get everything together!
 






CDW6212R

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so with +20 it would? :O

We are guessing of course, but I do think the 25mm offset is a little too much for the 9" wheel and 275mm tire. The 20-25mm offset is in that range of being so close you have to test fit it to know. If you find a wheel that you really love in the 25mm offset, and you are set on it, I'd get it and be prepared to need a small spacer.

Higher end wheels will be stronger and lighter, plus the hub thickness should be thick(strong) enough to allow a spacer without longer studs. My low end brand 18" wheels are too thick at the hub. I should measure that the next time I can, to post it and say avoid a wheel which is that thick at the hub area.
 






blakshukvw

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I have 17x9” et24 fronts and 17x10.5” et24 rears. Tires are 255/45 front and 275/40 rear. This is on a second gen with no fender flares and the wheels don’t poke.
 






blakshukvw

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do you think +25 on a 18x9 or 19x9 would work without rubbing ? I've found a few 18x9 and 19x9 +25
Yes, for sure.
 






CDW6212R

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I have 17x9” et24 fronts and 17x10.5” et24 rears. Tires are 255/45 front and 275/40 rear. This is on a second gen with no fender flares and the wheels don’t poke.

That's interesting. I have that exact tire size(255/45/17) on my Lincoln Mark VII right now, on stock 17x8" Cobra wheels. I hope to rework the suspension and move up to that 275/40/17 tire, widening the wheels 1.5" for that. But that's a car that needs that short of a tire, the SUV is made for a tire of 29" or larger. I don't think I want a 26" tire on my Explorer.
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blakshukvw

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That's interesting. I have that exact tire size(255/45/17) on my Lincoln Mark VII right now, on stock 17x8" Cobra wheels. I hope to rework the suspension and move up to that 275/40/17 tire, widening the wheels 1.5" for that. But that's a car that needs that short of a tire, the SUV is made for a tire of 29" or larger. I don't think I want a 26" tire on my Explorer.
View attachment 431879
Yeah, it’s shorter than I’d like. These tire sizes are what mustangs typically run. These wheels were on a lowered ranger splash with the same tires and it’s looked great. My X won’t get as low as the ranger in the front. I have the torsion adjuster bolt all the way out and it’s still not low enough yet the least I could get the camber on the drivers side was -1degree. It needs softer tbars and custom upper arms.

The tires fit fine on the X in these widths though. Clears the upper ball joint by easily 1/2” and in the rear, I have the ebrake cables zip tied back and there not rubbing the tire. The rears are stretched on the 10.5” wheel just enough to look real good and clear everything inside and out. Of course it’s not low enough to rub the fenders. ET24 is perfect on a 9” and 10.5” wheel though. I’d suspect that’d work on 18” and 19” too.
 






blakshukvw

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That's interesting. I have that exact tire size(255/45/17) on my Lincoln Mark VII right now, on stock 17x8" Cobra wheels. I hope to rework the suspension and move up to that 275/40/17 tire, widening the wheels 1.5" for that. But that's a car that needs that short of a tire, the SUV is made for a tire of 29" or larger. I don't think I want a 26" tire on my Explorer.
View attachment 431879
You could put the 275 on your 8” rear now. It’d look fine. I run 295’s on 8” rears on my marauder. There wide but I think they look good. How do I post pics? I’ll show you some of these combos.
 






CDW6212R

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Yeah, it’s shorter than I’d like. These tire sizes are what mustangs typically run. These wheels were on a lowered ranger splash with the same tires and it’s looked great. My X won’t get as low as the ranger in the front. I have the torsion adjuster bolt all the way out and it’s still not low enough yet the least I could get the camber on the drivers side was -1degree. It needs softer tbars and custom upper arms.

The tires fit fine on the X in these widths though. Clears the upper ball joint by easily 1/2” and in the rear, I have the ebrake cables zip tied back and there not rubbing the tire. The rears are stretched on the 10.5” wheel just enough to look real good and clear everything inside and out. Of course it’s not low enough to rub the fenders. ET24 is perfect on a 9” and 10.5” wheel though. I’d suspect that’d work on 18” and 19” too.

That's great to hear hands on experience with that 24mm offset in the 2nd gen Explorer. I was conservative in posting that I thought the 25mm offset might need a spacer. I/we don't want to tell people something will work for sure, and their cost is high to find out etc.

For your truck, you can buy drop keys for the torsion bars, they used to be about $50(mostly will be cheap brands). The adjuster keys have a hole in them which determines the height range. The Sport Tracs and later Rangers some with keys that lift the truck more naturally(higher height range). You have to hunt the other keys which will lower it some. I installed those on my Mountaineer and my last 98 Explorer, they let the adjustment bolts end up in the middle of the adjustment range.

My Lincoln I want to keep all four tires the same size if possible, so all of the suspension needs some work.

I do also wonder about the front suspension of a Marauder(2003-2006 CV/TC/GM), what tire can fit those? I plan to cut one out from a JY, and put it in my 73 Ranchero. I have 98 Mustang GT wheels for that now, for Impala SS tires(255/50/17)) when I get to it.

For posting pictures, you can become an Elite member for $20 and drag and drop from your PC. Anyone can use a link to pictures hosted elsewhere online.
 



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My X won’t get as low as the ranger in the front. I have the torsion adjuster bolt all the way out and it’s still not low enough yet the least I could get the camber on the drivers side was -1degree. It needs softer tbars and custom upper arms.

For your truck, you can buy drop keys for the torsion bars, they used to be about $50(mostly will be cheap brands). The adjuster keys have a hole in them which determines the height range. The Sport Tracs and later Rangers some with keys that lift the truck more naturally(higher height range). You have to hunt the other keys which will lower it some. I installed those on my Mountaineer and my last 98 Explorer, they let the adjustment bolts end up in the middle of the adjustment range.
Good info Don. I had the same issue as @blakshukvw not getting the three inch drop I wanted with the torsion bolts removed from the stock keys. Years ago AirBagIt was one of the only sources to get re-indexed lowering keys, but now there are several choices and they're cheaper too. I've been riding without front bump stops since installing and have never bottomed out.
 






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