Review fitting 33" tires on your Sport (8/2000) ...

Well, its been about a year and about 40K miles since I installed the 33"x12.5" Yokohama Geolandar M/T tires on my '97 Sport. Over all, I have to say that this is the bigest single improvement in off road performance that I could have made. Worries about driveline durrability have pretty much been banished. Even highway driving has been improved. Keep reading to see how things turned out a year later!

First, let me say that this is NOT cheap! NOT completly tested! NOT for anyone without machanical aptitude! NOT for anyone not willing to take a hacksaw to their Sport!!! ...

No, its not cheep. The average for a 33"x12.5" M/T is $160. And, the ARB bumper is required unless you really DO want to take a hack saw to the bumper. On the positive side, installing the ARB bumper which costs about $650, is very easy. I installed mine by myself and it only took a couple hours including breaks.

Second, THIS WILL NOT WORK WITH ALL 33X12.5" TIRES! If you don't already know the advertised size -- ie. 33x12.5" -- is usually not the REAL size. So far I've seen 33's run from just under 31" to almost exactly 33" tall and from 10" wide to 12ish.

This turned out to be correct. The Yokohama Geolandar M/Ts are on the small side for the stated size. So, keeping that in mind, there is a slight amount of rubbing with these tires on the very back bottom of the front wheel wells. This only happens when the front compresses and the wheel is turned towards the left; it goes away as the tread wears. It may be that on an 8" rim it'll spread the tire enough to pull the tread away from the back of the well. This is slightly more pronounced when the tires are aired down for the trail. At 12-15psi the tire moves around a little more relative to the rim and as you compress the suspension the tire will expand horizontally. Another place I've found contact is the filler guard on the inside of the rear driver side wheel well. This contact only happens lightly under full compression of the wheel into the wheel well while on a steep side hill angled driver side down with the tires aired way down. Ok, ok, yes, I know this doesn't happen very often, but I thought I'd mention it. Other locations are back of the rear wheel well on the stock fender flare and the back bottom of the front wheel well. These are EXTREMELY light and it took me the entire year of 'wheeling to even notice most of these. The problem with the front wells is the only one of consequence and only of note because that is what will limit the size tire you can fit.

So far, I've run this mostly on pavement with a LITTLE dirt hill climbing. I can say that it is definitly doable if you never plan to go off-road. AS LONG AS -- you don't mind you Sport riding like a truck, spending a goodly amount of money (in the 2K range), sucky gas millage (well for our Sports, that is), and less power to the pavement (means scratch off towing). AND, kiss your warrenty goodbye! This requires more modification then the service departments will generally tollerate.

Ok. Scratch that. I've gone through two sets of the 33"s already. Everything you can think of by now. Snow, ice, pavement, dirt, rock, gravel, sand, water, mud, slush and combinations of all of these. As for the Yokohama Geolandar M/T - this is an extremely nice tire and I've been very happy with it. The only thing I've really found here is that my Sport now rides BETTER then it did before! With the new lifted springs in the back and turning up the torsion bars it was getting a little stiff. But, the extra sidewall of the tire soaks this up and more. Now the ride is wonderful. I think the ride is better then the stock Sports with 235s.

"33x12.5" Yokohama Geolandar M/Ts on the stock rims. Yes, I know they're kind of big for a 7" rim but these are kinda small for a 33" tire.

This has actually worked out ok. With the extra bulge caused by the 7" rims I've at least stopped scraping the wheel weights off the rims. I haven't tried an 8" rim, yet, but I intend to in the very near future.

I use Jaos mud flaps so I don't know if the stock ones would fit. Re-bent the inside flap bracket. Going to replace the bolts with flat headed socket bolts to keep them from catching debris. There is a VERY TINY rub on the Jaos flap at full lock but I don't think you'd get that with the stock mud guards. The Jaos flaps stick into the well more at that point (about .5 inch) then the stock ones do if I remember correctly

I still haven't gotten any type of mud flap back on. But, I can tell you this. If you put on the 33"s and take the nerf bars off and don't put mud guards back on you will not have much paint left on the fronts of the back fender flares. Debris kicked up by the front tires hits square on the flares.

"1" body lift. So far as I can see -- if I even need it and we'll find out this saturday -- 1" should be plenty. More then enough to make sure there is no weel rub as mentioned above at full lock.

This is not necessary. I thought it might be, but I can't justify the cost and hassle for the 1" gained.

4.88 gears in the diffs from the Montero SR. Yea, I STILL haven't done that yet but I'm getting there. 'Least I'm sure it'll work. Now I just have to find an unattended SR just sitting around...hmmmm......:-):-)

Ok, gearing is a different story. One thing I've figured out is that going to the 4.88 with a manual transmission would not be enough to justify the cost. My Sport is currently running 4.63 front and rear. So, as you can see, changing to a 4.88 is not going to buy me much. However, a gear change is not strictly NECESSARY. I've been pretty happy with mine the way it is, but at the altitudes I 'wheel at it would be a nice perk. At lower altitudes, you will certainly not have many problems at all. Still, I plan on changing gears to something lower then the 4.88s.