4WD Wheels and Tyres Guide


Today I want to talk about 4WD wheels and tyres, one of, if not the most important thing on your 4WD.

I won’t be discussing which brands are better than others and for which reasons, this is simply a 4WD wheels and tyres guide covering basic principles and concepts regarding 4WD wheels and tyres.

After reading this 4WD wheels and tyres guide you will have a better understanding of what you’re looking for and looking at when searching the different wheels and tyres available.

It will allow you to make a better purchasing decision by being able to buy the right wheels and tyres for the right reasons.

In this post I will cover things such as:

  • Narrow tyres vs wide tyres.
  • Steel or alloy wheels?
  • Mud-terrain or all-terrain wheels?
  • Finding tyres to suit existing rims.
  • Finding tyres and buying new rims to suit.
  • What all the writing on the tyre’s sidewall means.
  • Wheel offsets and more!

Throughout the 4WD wheels and tyres guide I will explain my preferences, but these shouldn’t affect your decisions too much unless you are after the same end results as me.

I am simply adding my reasoning to get people thinking about what they want and why!

Why I wanted new wheels and tyres


There are two main ways that people will go about buying new tyres.

  1. Buying new tyres of a desired size and then finding wheels to suit these new tyres.
  2. Buying new tyres to go with their existing rims.

For me I wanted new tyres and new wheels, even though the wheels I had were capable of fitting an equivalent diameter tyre to what I ended up choosing, I wanted to drop my rim size from a 17″ to a 16″.

The reason I wanted new tyres was to get an increased diameter of tyre for slight ground clearance improvements as well as to finalise the build, be able to calibrate my Ultragauge properly to the new tyres and get accurate readings for my long range tank.

The new wheels I did not need but I jumped at the opportunity to get stronger load rated wheels and get more sidewall by dropping to a 16 inch wheel.

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Affiliate links are present on this page. Through partnerships with, but not limited to: Amazon, eBay and Commission Factory, I will make a small commission through qualifying purchases. This comes at no extra cost to you and is just a way for me to try and support myself and the blog.  Thank you.

The tyres and wheels that I had originally.

My 4WD wheels and tyres choices


I had 265/65/R17 tyres on (776.3mm diameter or 30.56 inches) and I wanted to upgrade ever so slightly to 265/70/R17 (802.8mm or 31.6 inches) for that tiny bit more ground clearance and sidewall.

However I could achieve this same tyre size using 265/75/R16 (803.9mm or 31.65 inches), giving me the increased diameter but also extra sidewall compared to the 17 inch variant.

What I ended up with was:

We will be going over what all of those numbers and letters mean further down the post, but those are alloy wheels and all-terrain tyres.

I’ll be using these as the examples for the 4WD wheels and tyres guide as it is easier to reference real world scenarios.

Resources to help find tyres and wheels


To compliment this 4WD wheels and tyres guide there are plenty of good websites with different tables, calculators or generated images that can help you find the right 4WD wheels and tyres.

Below are some of the resources that I used for different purposes when trying to find the best 4WD wheels and tyres to suit my needs.

Comparing potential tyre sizes


It can be hard to visualise what a tyre will look like compared to what you currently have on your car. Luckily there is a good website to help visualise the difference in potential tyre purchases.

This tyre size comparison website allows you to type in two different tyre sizes, then it will generate an image of the two so you can see just how things will change after install.

Not only this but it gives you the size (imperial or metric) as well as calculating the difference the tyre’s circumference will make to your speedo.

In the example below I have input my original tyre size with the eventual size that I purchased so you can see what I mean.

Finding wheel width required to suit tyres


If you are buying new 4WD tyres and the tyre size is the most important thing for you, then you will be using that tyre size as the starting point and finding wheels to suit that tyre size.

Not all tyres can go on all rims and the profile of the tyre affects this.

To do this there are some good resources online. The best one is this tyre to rim size calculator.

Punch in your desired tyre size and it will show you your minimum, maximum and rims size range. Here is an example of the results you would get if you wanted the same tyres as I wanted.

So for my desired tyre size, an 8 inch rim is right in the middle of that range, with 7.5 inches being the “standard”.

Only use this as a research guide and do the final consult with the tyre fitting shop, especially with very high profile tyres.

The website also has this page here with a table that shows you different width wheels and what tyres and profiles they can accommodate.

However this table lacks information, for my example of a 265/75/R16 on an 8 inch rim the table does not have anything, but this is a common rim pairing for that size of tyre.

So that is why it pays to confirm everything with the tyre fitter.

Finding what tyre widths suit existing wheels


If you are happy with the wheels you have but wanted to see just how large, wide, small or narrow a tyre you could put onto that rim there is also a calculator for you.

This page here will allow you to put in your wheel size and then see the range of widths and profiles that will fit that wheel.

Here is an example of what happens with 8.0×16 inch wheels.

As you can see, this is not an extensive list and appears to miss out on some of the higher profile tyres that you only really see in off-road vehicles.

This is why I would recommend using this as a guide only and confirming everything with the fitting store.

4WD Tyres


To start the 4WD wheels and tyres guide we will look at tyres, this is the most common starting point for people, you normally find a tyre that you want and then find a wheel to suit the tyre (see how above).

4WD tyres are the thing that will get you where you need to go, but bigger is not always better.

Before we cover the advantages and disadvantages of different tread patterns or tyre sizes I will briefly go over what the writing means on the sidewall of the tyres.

It is pretty basic once you learn it you’ll probably know it forever.

What does the writing on the tyre sidewall mean?


The tyre’s sidewall is host to a massive amount of information about the tyre, not all of which we will cover here but the main points will be covered below.

Using the tyres that I bought as an example, let’s look at breaking down the main points so that all that information on the sidewall is easy to understand.

Tyre aspect ratios


People always get confused with tyre aspect ratios.

To start with, the “LT” refers to the design of the tyre being capable of light truck work, the tyre aspect ratio is the 265/75/R16 portion of that text.



This is the tyre width in millimetres.

This does not mean that the tread pattern is 265mm, it is the width of the tyre from sidewall to sidewall when fitted to a certain sized rim.

The actual tyre width will vary depending on the rim it is fitted to as well as slight manufacturing discrepancies, but it will basically be pretty close to 265mm across.



This middle part refers to the ratio, it is directly related to the first part. So in this example the sidewall is 75% of 265mm (198.75mm).

If the tyre was 235/85/R16, this would mean the sidewall was 85% of 235mm. To work this out is simply 235×0.85 = 199.75mm of sidewall.



The final part of the aspect ratio is simply the rim size that the tyre must be mounted on.

As you can see below there is even a warning above the aspect ratio stating that the tyre is not to be mounted onto a 16.5 inch wheel. It has to be exactly as stated.

How to find out a tyre’s date of manufacture?


This should not be a massive concern when buying new tyres, but can be handy to know when buying tyres second hand.

Somewhere on the tyre there will be a “DOT” (department of transport) marking followed by some letters and numbers. The numbers relate to the date of manufacture.

The number will be 4 digits, the first two digits are the week of the year that the tyre was made, with the last two digits being the year it was made.

In the example below, it was made in the 9th week of 2023, making it sometime in March.

When buying brand new this isn’t an issue, but when buying off somebody else it might be good to get tyres that were made within the last 3-4 years and avoid those that have possibly been exposed to 5+ years of sunlight for example.

Tyre speed and load ratings


Tyre speed and load ratings are just one of those things that you will need to look up a chart to figure out, unless you work in a tyre shop in which case you probably know a fair few off by heart.

A typical tyre rating will consist of something such as 123S where the “123” is the load rating and the “S” is the speed rating.

As you can see below though it can get even more confusing when there is a “/” between two different load ratings. The reason there is a forward slash and two load ratings is because this particular tyre is a LT (light truck) design.

It can be used in a truck setup as part of a dual setup, where there are two tyres on the back left, two on the back right for example.


The first number (123) relates to the load rating of the tyre when it us used as a single tyre, the second number (120) relates to the load rating that it can take in a dual tyre setup.

You can see this written in plain English elsewhere on the tyre and I have included that image above as well for reference.

The reason the second number is lower is because that tyre needs to be able to accommodate some of the load if one of the tyres in the dual tyre setup where to deflate or burst.

Below is a chart showing what each number means. The tyres that I bought are 123 which gives a load rating of 1,550 kg per corner, which is massive for a 4WD!


The letter after the number relates to the speed rating. This will always be lower for 4WD tyres, especially the all-terrains and the mud-terrains when comparing them to road cars, or even to 4WD highway terrains.

We can see in the tyre speed rating chart below that for the tyres that I bought the speed rating is 180km/h, which is more than enough for a 4WD.

Tyre construction


The make up of the tyre is done in all sorts of fancy ways, but generally speaking the tyre has a different amount of layers, called plies. You can see the make up of the tread and the sidewall of this tyre below.


I won’t go into this too much as things have changed a lot as tyre manufacturers have become better at finding different ways to strengthen tyres, so a tyre’s strength is not as simple as saying “it’s a 2 ply sidewall” for example.

Using the Falken Wildpeak as an example, part of the sidewall is folded over on itself, effectively being 4 ply in that area and 2 ply elsewhere.

You would have to talk to the manufacturer to get a proper understanding of how each individual tyre is made, generally speaking though if you get a mud-terrain or aggressive all-terrain that is LT construction, it will be very strong.

Choosing the right tyre


There are three main factors that will determine your tyre selection.

  • Tyre diameter (and sidewall).
  • Tyre width.
  • Tread style (all-terrain, mud-terrain etc).

There are lots of other things to consider as well such as the construction of the tyre, the brand name and online reviews.

However, when you’re deciding on what tyre you want, it’s the tyre’s diameter, width and style that will be the starting point, only after you make that decision is it worth looking at the brands and reviews.


Larger vs smaller tyre diameters


The only way to get more clearance underneath your diffs is by fitting larger tyres. Suspension lifts do not lift the unsprung parts of the car and won’t give your diffs more clearance.

But there are heaps of downsides to going too big, you want to get the balance right.

This balance is all dependant on the type of car you own as well, with Landcruisers and Patrols being more suited to fitting 35s than the typical dual cab utes such as the Hilux, Ranger, D-Max, Triton etc.

There is so much to consider when getting larger tyres, but here are some of the main points.


Economy and cost

As you increase the diameter of the tyre you are changing the economy of the car by making it work harder to achieve the same results.

This is due to both the weight increase of larger tyres but also the fact that having a larger diameter tyre is the equivalent of changing the gearing a fraction.

You use more fuel but they also cost more to put on as an outright purchase as well as any hidden costs (altering suspension to fit larger tyres).

On top of that, when people feel the loss in power they are often tempted to get more power out of the engine, which again makes another purchase or three and so it goes on and on.



If you use low range first gear to control your movement going down hill, the car will now run down the hill faster than before due to the change which is effectively a gearing change.

You might think this isn’t a big problem, but when you’re dealing with low speeds the changes can be quite easy to feel.

On top of this, the car now holds speeds at different revs and in different parts of the torque curve, so it may not drive as well as it would have before.



The car will accelerate worse, the braking distance will increase and the centre of gravity will also be slightly higher as well.

It might not seem like much, but the braking distance especially is one to be wary of.



You now have less range in your fuel tank, so you can’t go as far off-road.

The car’s engine is working harder for every kilometre and the driveline has more stress placed on it when cornering, the brakes need to do more and you increase the wear and tear of the car.

If you lift the wheels, you are more at risk of breaking CV joints when the wheel touches down due to all the extra rotating mass being driven.

Narrow vs wide tyres


A lot can be said about narrow and wide tyres. Most people prefer wide tyres, but the fact is that narrow tyres perform better off-road than wider tyres in most scenarios.

Wider tyres look better, they look “tougher”, but these aren’t meant to be show cars.

This section could have infinite detail given the complexity of the issue, with tyre constructions, vehicle weights and driving conditions all playing a major part but I will try keep it short.

Watch this video for a good explanation on why narrow tyres are generally better.

Here are a few of the key points in the wide vs narrow tyres debate regarding 4WD tyres.


Rolling resistance

Narrow tyres have less rolling resistance, meaning there is less of the tyre’s face that needs to push through any given obstacle, making them better than wide tyres in most scenarios, including on the road for fuel economy.



Narrow tyres naturally weigh less than a wide tyre of the same diameter, but on top of this they also get mounted to narrower wheels, which weigh less again.

This change can be dramatic across the 4x corners of a car and even more so if you travel with 6 wheels for example.

All of that weight reduction is unsprung weight, making the car perform better in acceleration and braking. Coupled with the reduction in rolling resistance and the change becomes more pronounced.


Contact patch

Narrow tyres bag out length ways more than a wider tyre will, giving you a contact patch that is longer without the rolling resistance of a similar sized tyre with more width.

This makes them better in almost all off-road scenarios.

Wider tyres of the same diameter will have a larger contact patch which can help the floatation on snow and sand, but in sand narrower tyres often perform better as they don’t need to push as much out of the way in the process.

Wider tyres can be better in ruts that need to be straddled, but this can be negated with wheel offsets. A narrow contact patch running the length of a rut being straddles is of more use than a wide contact patch that cannot make contact with the rut width ways.

Wider tyres of the same diameter as a narrow tyre will have a slightly larger contact patch that could be helpful in climbing rocks.

There are so many nuances to this but generally speaking a narrower and longer contact patch will perform better than a wider contact patch.



With narrower tyres you reduce the risk of damage by having less unsprung weight being driven, reducing stresses on the CVs, axles and also the motor by having it perform less work.

There is also less tyre face to potentially get a puncture but this difference will mostly be negligible.



A wider tyre will provide more grip in dry weather due to its larger  overall contact patch.

In the wet however a wider tyre is more likely to aquaplane as a result of that larger contact patch and narrow tyres can more reliably gain traction through water (to an extent).

All-terrains vs Mud-terrains


I think the best way to frame this section is by asking yourself if you need mud-terrains. If you’re not sure, then you probably don’t need mud-terrains.

Let’s look at some things to consider when deciding between the two.



All-terrains will give you better fuel economy.

This is due to the tread pattern, with smaller gaps between the blocks for a more well-behaved road presence with less resistance and better grip on the bitumen resulting in better fuel usage.

The other factor is that they weigh less per tyre which also increases the fuel savings for the life of the tyre.



Mud-terrains will be noisier due to their design with the tread blocks being spread further apart to eject rocks, provide better off-road grip and expel mud.

This can not seem like a big difference at first but can get worse as the tyres wear. This noise will accumulate over long drives and can become very tirying.



Off-road it is no contest, mud-terrains will be better on rocks, snow and mud.

On-road though and all-terrains will give better braking and cornering in both dry and wet conditions. Due to the lighter weight there will be a slight increase in acceleration (probably won’t notice it though).


Ongoing costs

Mud-terrains will cost more to purchase outright, they will cost you more in fuel throughout their life due to the lower economy rates as well.

On top of that will be the fact that you will go through them quicker and will have to make that outlay again for 5 tyres, where as all-terrains may get you an extra 20,000-30,000 kms every set.

Your intended driving makes all the difference


Given what I have written above you might think that you want a small, narrow all-terrain.

But the way that you drive and where you intend to go makes all of the difference here. If you want to do hill climbs and build an off-road beast there’s no way in the world you’d buy all-terrains!

The same applies for remote touring, you want mud-terrains all the way.

The point isn’t to say that something is bad, but just to get you thinking about whether you really need big fat tyres, because you probably won’t see any benefit.

For most people who want to tour around, all-terrains are the way to go because they will get you 90% of places. You don’t need 35s, in fact you’d be worse off with 35s for that style of driving.

Your type of car should also affect your decision, with a ute I would try and max it out at 33 inch tyres.

You don’t need 315mm wide tyres either, I personally think they look crap but others like that look, unfortunately you will perform worse both on and off road by getting wide tyres.

Mud-terrains are great, so are larger diameter tyres, but don’t do it for looks because you’ll pay the price.

What I bought and why


Given everything that I have said above, my intended use for this car is pretty basic touring, travelling around, going down a few different tracks here and there but never doing stupid challenges.

So I went for an all-terrain, Falken Wildpeak AT3W 123S, 265/75/R16 (eBay).

Now, I probably could have and should have gone for a 235/85/R16 which would have given me the same tyre diameter, reduced the weight at each corner and given me better performance.

I am not really sure why I didn’t, but I was coming from a 265 tyre and decided to keep it the same as factory. There was no way I was going to go to a 285 or 315 tyre because the car would perform worse.

The increase to my clearance is only +3.55%, but by dropping to a 16 inch wheel I have increased the sidewall by +15.39%


Why the Falken Wildpeak AT3W?

I basically went off the great reviews on websites such as tyrereview, where this tyre ranks as the top rated all-terrain by users.

I then read through the forums and watched some Youtube videos and in general they are considered great all-terrains with very good wet weather performance.

It was this reputation for wet weather grip that sold it for me, with the car getting heavier and heavier I wanted to have the best handling and braking as I could, whilst still getting a strong off-road tyre.

4WD Wheels


This second part of the 4WD wheels and tyres guide will focus on wheels.

There are a few things you might want to know about buying wheels so that you can narrow down your searches to the most relevant stuff for your car’s stud pattern, wheel size, offset etc.

One thing to make sure of is that you choose a wheel with an appropriate load rating for your 4WD, with cars often carrying a lot of weight it is important that the wheels are strong and capable of off-roading loads.

How to find what wheels your car needs


After selecting your tyres and figuring out the diameter and width of rim that you need to suit that tyre, there are some specifics you’ll need to know about the style of wheel your car takes to refine the search.

To find out what offset, bore size and stud pattern the car has from factory you can use a few different methods.

Using a website like this wheel size website can help you see what the factory wheels are, which makes it easier to choose an aftermarket wheel by filtering by bore sizes and stud patterns.



Another key piece of information given by this website is the fact that the BT-50 also came out with a 16 inch wheel. Knowing this for my car was good because it meant I could downsize to a 16 knowing it would not clash with brake callipers.

What is annoying about using websites like Tyrepower or Bob Jane (or whoever sells tyres near you) is that they ask you to put in your model of car, then just show you wheel replacements of the same size.

They don’t show you what wheel diameters will fit your car, just other versions of the wheel diameter that particular model was released with. They can be used to figure out the stud pattern and bore size though.

A third useful thing to check out is the website of the aftermarket wheel manufacturer, for example CSA wheels who I went with.

CSA have a fitment guide page which gives me the following information when selecting my make and model of car.


This fitment note is very handy as it shows me the PCD, the offset and the stud pattern.

It also suggests what offset wheels to use with the car, more on this below, but it is basically recommending you match the factory offset as much as possible.

Lastly it recommends that the centre bore size is matched without using a CBL (centre bore locator) adaptor.

With all of that information I found the Bob Jane website offered the best filtering of the wholesalers, I put in filters for

Wheels > 16 diameter > 8 width > 6 bolt holes > 139.7 PCD

From there you can further filter for offsets of 35 or 45 (whatever suits your car) as well as bore sizes of 93.1 or 93.2 for the BT-50.

This greatly narrowed the results to the most suited wheels for the car which is handy for those trying to get the best suited wheels for their car.

Just briefly for those who are curios I will show you what all these numbers mean.

4WD wheel load ratings


4WD wheel load ratings are important for two reasons.

Firstly, 4WDs weight changes more so than any other style of car, people can’t overlook this fact and need to have both tyres and wheels that are capable of handling these weight increases.

Secondly, 4WD vehicles are exposed to driving conditions where certain wheels will be bearing a massive proportion of the car’s weight compared to other wheels. Road going cars are all more or less even in weight distribution in normal driving.

You want to find wheels with a load rating that comfortably exceeds your intended final GVM. In my instance, the 4x 1550 kg gives a wheel load rating total of 6,200 kg, with current expected max weight being ~3,100kg.

Wheel load ratings should be available in all aftermarket wheel manufacturer’s website and can also be found on the rims. Don’t buy rims if you don’t know how strong they are.

Stud Patterns & centre bore hole


The stud pattern has to be matched perfectly, but what do the numbers mean? Let’s use my wheels as an example.


The 6 is the number of studs on the wheel, so in this instance 6 studs.

The 139.7 is the PCD.

What is PCD?


Imagine a circle crossing the centre line of the 6 bolts, that imaginary circle’s diameter is the pitch circle diameter. See he below illustration as an example.

Do I need to match the centre bore size?


Most people should just match the centre bore size of the wheel to the hub. This will give the best driving conditions and wheel balance.

However if you find a style of wheel you really like and it only comes in a certain CB measurement, you can make it work using CBL adaptor rings, or hub centric rings.

This obviously means the wheel’s CB must be larger than your car’s requirement. Most people though should find a wheel to suit what the car takes for simplicity sakes.

You can happily install CBL rings without issue if done in the right scenario but sometimes steel wheels won’t accept them and aftermarket wheels with push in centre bore caps won’t fit if a ring is installed.

Wheel offset explained


In this part of the 4WD wheels and tyres guide I will touch on wheel offsets, which can be a complicated and involved issue so we will try and stick to basic principles here.

The offset of a wheel relates to where it mounts to the hub in relation to the wheel’s centre line. This is represented by a number, for example P55 or ET55, which is the distance off centre in millimetres.

Take the factory alloy that I removed from my car for example, it is a P55 offset.

If the offset was 0, the wheel would mount perfectly in the centre, with the rim being 230mm wide, this would mean it would bolt to the hub 115mm in from either edge of the wheel, with the measurement from the inside edge shown below.

However you can see from the shape of the rim that it does not have an offset of zero.

The offset is a positive offset, meaning that the wheel mount is further to the outside of the rim, pushing the majority of the wheel and the tyre inboard resulting in a narrower tyre track or stance.

Being P55 (also called ET55), the mounting point for this factory Mazda alloy is 55mm off centre, meaning it is 170mm from the inside edge of the rim.

So you can see that by having a positive offset, the wheels and tyres are tucked in closer to the car.

If you reduce your offset, the stance of the vehicle will be wider, with a greater distance between the tyres.

A negative offset is also possible, for example a -10 offset, resulting in a wide wheel track which would require flares to cover the newly exposed wheels.

When you would want to change offset


In most scenarios and for the average user it is best to match your aftermarket wheel offset to that of the car from factory, but there are times when you might want to change the offset of the car.

When it comes to 4WDs the most common change would be reducing the offset to get a wider wheel track.


Clearance issues

If you installed wider tyres than you originally had, you could run into issues where the tyre is close to the suspension components, the wheel guards or even brake lines at full lock.

This can be counteracted by reducing the offset to get a wider stance, bringing the tyres further away from suspension components to reduce rubbing.


Evening out front and back wheel tracks

The most common example of this is the 70 series Landcruiser which has a rear wheel track that is 100mm narrower at the rear.

This is not good off-road because the rear wheels should be cleared of pushing through obstacles such as sand by following the rear wheel track, by having different wheel tracks there is more rolling resistance.

Again, changing the offset can correct this issue.


Wide stance advantages

If you have narrow tyres you might feel like you have lost some of your advantage in straddling ruts, but by reducing offset you can correct that.

You could also argue that a wider stance will improve the balance and avoid rollovers. This is true but the results would be negligible for 95% of people.

Downsides to changing offset too much


There are some downsides to changing your offset too much, whether it is going positive or negative.


Increased pressure on bearings

A negative of putting negative offset onto the 4WD is that you increase the stress on the bearings, which is amplified if you have gone for larger and heavier wheels and tyres.

If you’ve bought a car with massively wide wheel tracks, you might want to increase the offset (ie make it more positive) to reduce the wheel track and lessen the load on the bearings.


Wider stance disadvantages

There may also be instances when the wider wheel stance could affect your ability to fit your tyres in between an obstacle instead of having to go over something.

So not always an advantage in tight and bendy tracks.



If your wheels extrude past your wheel guards, you will legally need to cover them up so that they can’t flick rocks and road debris up at other road users.

Depending on your state and country there can be limits of changes to wheel track regardless of whether you cover them with flares or not.

Alloy wheels vs steel wheels


Now for the 4WD wheels and tyres guide alloys vs steels debate!

Honestly I don’t see this as much of a debate at all, I don’t think either is better than the other, I just believe that what you do with the car will be the determining factor in deciding what is best for you.

Both steel wheels and alloy wheels have an ideal user, so let’s just compare where they differ so that you can see what fits your driving and travelling style better.

Steel wheels


Good old reliable steel!

There are two main areas where steel wheels reign supremer over alloy wheels.



Steel wheels are my recommendation for most people, mostly because of the cost. Steel wheels will normally cost about one third to one quarter of the cost of an alloy.

Steel wheels can be bought for quite cheap and if you are buying 5 or 6 wheels at a time this money saved could equal over $1,000!




Steel wheels can take a beating and then be bent back into shape.

But you need to really smash them around, you will need to be carrying a hefty sized mallet or sledgehammer to really get them back into shape.

For this reason they are the pick for people in extremely remote areas where being able to repair a wheel could be a life saver. However people travelling remote should really travel with 2 spare wheels as well.



Mostly a negative, but if you want to really hone in on small advantages there are those who argue that having extra weight down low makes the car more stable.

This is technically true, but is not a great argument, the affect is so minor and is nothing compared to removing items from a poorly organised roof rack for example.

Alloy wheels


Alloy wheels ship out with most cars these days, including most 4WDs. They are lighter weight, look better, come in a larger variety of options and make cars handle better.

There are a few advantages to going with an alloy wheel, some more important than others.



A good quality alloy will actually be stronger than a steel wheel, however if you take it past the limit of what it can handle then  it is game over and you better be carrying a spare.

An alloy can take hits just as well if not better than a steel wheel, it’s just that they crack rather than bend out of shape upon massive impacts.

However, not many people actually crack their alloys in normal circumstances.



Wheels are all different so there’s no magic number about how much a certain wheel size weighs.

Using the example of the CSA raptor large cap alloys that I bought and comparing them to the Dynamic Sunraysia wheel which is a steel wheel of the same size, offset, load rating (1,200 kg) etc, we get the following results.

  • 16×8.0 inch alloy = 12.27 kg
  • 16×8.0 inch steel = 15.00 kg

This means that for this particular wheel size we save 2.73kg per corner of unsprung mass. Unsprung mass being quite important for performance (often said to be worth 1.6x its weight in sprung mass).



Better handling, acceleration and braking thanks to the reduction in unsprung mass.

The braking is also improved due to the fact that alloy wheels will dissipate heat more quickly, which could come in handy in long down hill sections.

Alloy wheels are also better balanced off the production line due to the manufacturing process, suffering far less inconsistencies than steel wheels which also helps performance.

So which is better?


Like I said, neither is better. This 4WD wheels and tyres guide isn’t about telling people what to get, rather than just letting people think about what they need with all the information available.

Reading that it might sound like alloys are better, but I would probably recommend steels to most people for cost reasons.

What I bought and why


I bought alloys.

The reason for this is pretty simple, I value reliability, economy and safety related performance.

For the type of driving that I do I can afford to run alloys, I am not doing rock crawling or driving like an idiot through bog holes unsighted where I could crack an alloy.

Let’s be honest, even if you were, the likelihood of cracking one would mean you’ve taken a massive hit and potentially ruined other parts of your drive line as well.

I value fuel economy, better braking, acceleration, handling and reducing the unsprung weight on the car as much as possible.

But I think steel wheels are better for most people, they’re cheap and repairable.

I always figure though that I can carry up to 6 wheels on my car, the likelihood of needing them would be so remote it’s almost impossible, but worst case scenario it is cheap to buy 5 or 6 steel wheels later on if I do need them.

One last thing that I considered was the fact that I have a suspension lift without a diff drop kit, meaning my CV angles are not great. By lowering the weight I increase the reliability of the CVs and the engine at the same time, making everything easier to rotate and power without damage.

At the end of the day, as it was with mud-terrains vs all-terrains, there are two different styles for different needs.

Before and after changing wheels.

4WD wheels and tyres guide conclusion


This is the end of the 4WD wheels and tyres guide, hopefully you have learnt something and can make an educated purchasing decision for your car and your travel style.

At the end of the day it is the way you drive that will determine what is best for you to buy, but now you hopefully know enough about 4WD wheels and 4WD tyres to make the right choice without being caught out by something.

I think the main thing people assume that is wrong is that wide tyres are better off-road, they’re not.

I might even change myself one day to a 235/85/R16, but that would require a whole new set of rims due to the narrow design so it won’t be happening any time soon.

Any other questions or resources you feel should be included then reach out in the comments, otherwise drive safe!

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