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Do-It-Yourself Projects
Filling Fenders with Fatter Tires
By Wayne Scraba/
Printable version
Degree of DifficultyEasy
Estimated Time120 minutes
120 minutes
What to Know About Tire Upsizing
to Get the Best Look and Fit -

Turn the clock back a few years (maybe decades) and it’s interesting to note that tires and wheels found on even the quickest of cars back then actually prove narrower than the rubber fitted to something like my pickup truck. Surprising? Absolutely. Today, wider tires are definitely the popular choice. But even in the present day, not all cars are blessed with wide, low-profile rubber. What if your car is one of those skinny tire jobs? What if you’d like to fill out the fenders without resorting to major reconstructive surgery, like tubs, narrowed frame rails, narrower-than-stock axles, fender flares and so on)? Is it possible to accomplish this look while staying clear of rubbing and ruining expensive new tires? Definitely, and here’s how:
Wide Tires
Wheel Offset
Picking the right wheel backspace, or offset (distance from the backside of the wheel mounting pad to the outside of the rim flange) for wheels is the real key. It enables you to slide the biggest wheels and tires into the smallest space and save you the most amount of money. Adding big rubber in a wheel well that isn't tubbed or modified isn't all that difficult, but it can provide more than it's fair share of headaches. In this case, one mistake on the backspace dimension will mean the wheels and tires don't fit. What about jacking the car up so the tires fit? It's usually a waste of time and traction. Besides, that particular boy racer look went out in the early Seventies. And there’s something else to consider: Most shops simply won't accept an exchange if the wheels show any signs of mounting (can you blame them?).
It should be no secret that wheels are available in a wide array of dimensions. For example, you might be able to purchase an 18x10-inch wheel with backspaces that range from six inches all the way down to two inches. This means that the tire can either be tucked up under the stock fender of your car (good) or it can hang out in the breeze (not so good).
Here's how to get it right:
Making Adjustments
This P325-50R15 tire is massive in both height and width—it took the place of a much, much smaller P235-60R15 tire. In this case, there was a bit of surgery required to get the tire to fit (the frame was notched, however the wheel well sheet metal is stock and all of the suspension components are in their stock locations). You might not be able to squeeze quite this much tire into an unmodified wheel well, but we can show you how to get close.
Massive P325-50R15 Tire
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