If you are taking your truck to the beach, it needs to be functional AND look good. One of the best ways to get those extra looks is through the tires and rims your truck is riding on.
A great-looking vehicle will always get the attention of people on the beach. But it won’t look good if your truck gets stuck in the beach sand and you can’t get out without a tow. The OEM wheels and tires on our Tacoma truck were functional but they did get any second looks. When we bought the truck we planned to upgrade them once the original tires wore down. Being the “frugal” folks we are, we didn’t see the point of switching them out until their tread life was up. Well, that time finally arrived!
As with most of our major purchases, we put together a plan of what we were looking for along with a budget. Of course, we could have gone to any reputable wheel and tire dealer but we looked online. If your budget is open, then the options that are available to you go on forever, especially the rims. The number of manufacturers and styles available can be overwhelming. But we firmly believe in setting a budget limit and sticking to it. An educated consumer makes the best decisions. It was more fun looking online too!
Choosing 2020 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 wheels
Here were our goals when buying new truck rims and tires:
Looks are important, but we were also wanted a different size tire. The tires and wheels would have to work for our Tacoma’s suspension, gearing, and bodywork. Differences in tire type, revolutions per mile, tire speed, load index, and speed rating all affect ride quality and truck performance. Then there are factors like width, diameter, offset, and a bolt pattern that also come into play when shopping for your next set of wheels.
Bigger wheels not always better
Bigger wheels and tires are the current trend. However, a bigger diameter and/or width isn’t always better. You need to know if there is enough clearance for a larger tire. Some wheel wells are very tight and a larger tire or wheel may rub against your fender or your suspension, especially during turns. Here's what to watch for:
Tires aren’t the only things load rated; wheels are too. The load rating is a function of the wheel construction and bolt pattern. Steel wheels are often rated at lower loads than cast aluminum wheels. Forged wheels offer the highest load rating. This is a big factor if your truck does a lot of hauling or towing.
Your new wheels won't fit if the bolt pattern is wrong. The bolt or lug pattern is the diameter of the circle formed by the wheel lugs. This is made up of two numbers.
If looks are critical to you, then pay attention to the offset and backspacing. Offset measures the distance from the wheel’s center to the mounting surface, or the part of the wheel connected to the brake rotor. Backspace refers to the distance from the wheel’s interior edge to the mounting section. Shallow backspacing is like negative offset, while deep backspacing is equivalent to positive offset. Higher positive offsets equal inward wheel installations and there will be less clearance between the tire’s interior edge and the suspension system. The vehicle stance will be narrow. Lower offsets widen the vehicle stance and provide more space between the tire’s inner edge and the suspension system.
Then there's the center bore. If the wheels purchased match the OEM wheels that came with your vehicle, you don’t need hub-centric rings. On the other hand, if the center bore is significantly different, you can use wheel centering rings to ensure a perfect bond and minimize the chance of higher speed vibrations.
Use a Rim and Tire Size Calculator
A fantastic tool to use to bring all these factors together and see the impact visually is a wheel offset calculator. You can input key data about your tires and wheels and visually see the change in placement. Below are descriptions of two of their better calculators which we found helpful in making our decisions, especially since we were considering a tire size change.
Key features from the online calculator:
Use this wheel offset calculator to calculate the difference in wheel and tire position when switching to different wheel offsets/backspacing or tire size. Input your current tire and wheel setup including wheel offset, then add the new setup to compare positioning.
Another valuable option is to search for and read the numerous forums and blogs on specific vehicles. They all have information on wheels and tires. The information shared by others is real and will give you a great insight into your potential purchase. There are always people with an identical or similar experience that can offer tips that could save you dollars. Nobody needs surprise complications. I found out exactly what I needed for our truck at https://www.tacomaworld.com.
Truck Tire Research
Wheels are important but let's not forget those tires. They are critical to any vehicle and will make or break how your truck performs, especially off-road. Again a little research will provide key information on the tires that are a match for your vehicle. YouTube offers multiple reviews of tire performance. There are also online tire retailers that provide testing data and assessments plus customer reviews on specific tires and brands. We found https://www.tirerack.com a great starting point for our search. Their ratings on key product performance indicators are handy and they provide an online summary.
Where do you purchase truck wheels and tires?
There are many online retailers for tires and wheels. Many of these offer wheel/tire packages. They will ship the individual products or ship the final product to you mounted and assembled ready for installation on your vehicle. We compared them to the traditional bricks and mortar retail dealers. In general, what we found is that you can score great pricing from online retailers. But there are many additional accessories and fees that eat away at that pricing. For example, some online retailers would have you purchase new TPMS sensors ($200-280 cost), and new lug nuts ($50), and then there may be installation and shipping costs. In our case, we decided to use a local retailer.
In the end, we purchased MotoMetal 970 gloss black 16” wheels with a 0 offset and identical bolt pattern and center bore as the OEM wheels. The tire we selected was Falken Wildpeak AT3W in a 265/75/R16 size (vs original 245/75/R16). This resulted in a more aggressive-looking stance with a slightly taller wheel/tire and sitting 1.4” farther out than the original setup.
The retailer we went with was Discount Tire Direct in Daytona Beach. They are online nationally plus have a local store for installation and any follow-up issues (a big selling point for us). They were great as they matched competitors' pricing and reused our almost new TPMS sensors (saving us more). They ordered and got the wheels/tires quickly and the installation was seamless. It's great to have a local shop with a great warranty if we have any future issues. We were also able to resell the OEM wheels thru Facebook Marketplace to help offset the cost.
With the new tires and rims, our Tacoma 4x4 performance in wet and dry conditions has been great. With the slightly larger tires, we have not experienced any rubbing issues, and no significant change in fuel consumption. No increased tire noise and just a minor change in odometer/speed readings. Best of all, when we hit the beach we ride perfectly and in style no matter how thick the sand is.
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Susan and Bruno are travel bloggers. We write about Florida beaches on every coast. Our opinions only.