Larger Wheels & Lift Kits… Should you bother?

Some may say size isn’t important, it’s how you use it… Well it can be true for some, but for others every little helps!

The Jimny is a rather small car, so with a proportional increase in the stance, you can improve off road performance. Here’s how and why…

So we all want big tyres and big lifts, but can it be over done? It certainly can! So what is a happy medium?

The happy medium for almost a whole year has been our current set up. A lift kit was always on the cards since buying the Jimny, followed by a slight jump in size of wheel/tyre combination.

What we are currently using:
40mm Old Man Emu Lift Kit
Toyo Open Country A/T Plus (235/70R16)
American Racing AX201 16×8

What justifies our happy medium? The happy medium had to cover the following:
– Performance, on and off road
– Reliability
– Cost
– Fuel Consumption
– Possible Problems/Issues
We will do our best to cover all topics in the following sections below.

So you might have heard that the first thing you should do to your Jimny is lift it, right? Well we would agree, because almost a year later it is the only modification we have never looked back at and thought why did we bother, as we have done with other modifications. We spent quite some time researching into lift kits and also deciding on what tyre size to go with, now almost a year later this is what we think!

What differences do we notice?

Some have said that they could feel the difference instantly after fitting the lift kit! However, we was a little sceptical whether we could feel a difference instantly but the more we drove it the more we realised it certainly does make a difference! Moreover, it wasn’t long until we also changed our wheel and tyre combo which then really made a dramatic difference to the performance on and off road.

With just under a month after fitting the lift kit, we then changed the wheels and tyres to a new set up. We went for the American Racing Alloys and Toyo Tyres. The wheels have a great offset and width giving the Jimny a superb stance when paired with some beefier tyres!

It was then when we noticed how much better the Jimny was to drive! The Jimny today powers down the motorway completely unladen at a good speed without hesitating to accelerate more! (10,000+ Miles on the clock) The Jimny is far more stable and comfortable. Having the larger tyres with the lift kit keeps the Jimny more planted on the road so you don’t wobble around corners like your about to roll over. In a straight line the engine no longer revs as much, so sitting at 70mph is much quieter and more comfortable.

But don’t be fooled, the Jimny will still be very skittish around town, you can not improve the way the Jimny handles pot holes and imperfections around town, check the video below for an explantation why.

When heading off road the larger tyres are great for more axle clearance, this is more important than the actual lift as the fitting a lift kit to your Jimny will not give you more ground clearance as your axles will still be the same height from the ground. One thing which isn’t so great with fitting larger tyres on the Jimny is the effect it has on gearing. Gearing will be effected in the sense that you will no longer be able to crawl as slow. This hasn’t been too much of a problem however it would be a lot nicer if we could crawl slower! Reduction gears can help, but they are not cheap nor are they easy to fit!

When it comes to fuel consumption we haven’t noticed too much difference. Many people claim many different fuel consumptions in Jimny groups and for us we have never had the best consumption from new. This has never bothered us much as we didn’t buy the Jimny hoping it’ll be good on fuel. Your driving style will affect the consumption the most, for some reason our Jimny loves a bit of full throttle rather often, or maybe the driver does?

If you are one to load up your Jimny to the max when heading off for an adventure, then at times you may regret the larger tyres like we have a few times. Keeping up with traffic on the motorways when fully loaded can sometimes be a pain when you get to an up hill stretch. Though this is mainly due to not having much torque from the Jimny, because on flat stretches of the motorway the Jimny can still cope fully loaded.

Fully loaded up Jimny which sat at 70mph (112.654kmh) on our way home from camping. Though it struggled getting up hills!!

Why the Old Man Emu kit?

We spent quite some time looking into lift kits. We didn’t exactly want to break the bank as lift kits can be a costly upgrade but at the same time we didn’t want to go for the cheapest option with the worry of having to replace the kit again to soon in the future. We found the OME kit is a good affordable price which is well worth the money!

Old Man Emu has been around for a very long time making suspension improvements on many many vehicles with great success! You don’t often hear horror stories with OME as we have heard some disappointed owners complain about their cheaper kits.

A little bit of a chat regarding reliability:
– Shock absorbers are the most complex components in the lift kit as they have all sorts of valves and oils in side to make sure they dampen and absorb shocks comfortably over a long period of time. The more impacts your shock absorbers see the quicker they will wear out and fail and you will be left with an uncomfortable ride. We believe in OME to have done enough R&D over the years to have perfected their shock absorbers to last longer than their competitors.

Don’t be fooled by some kits saying they can improve comfort around town, that is a little impossible with the nature of the Jimny. It has live axles which we’re never designed for comfort, they are designed to be used off road when the smooth roads disappear and you’re left with uneven tracks with large obstacles in the way, have a watch of our video to get more of an understanding.

Short explanation about the Jimny suspension with demonstration

More on Wheels & Tyres

Starting off with the wheels, they are of course quite a bit bigger compared to the stock Jimny wheels. With our wheels measuring 16×8 compared to the stock 15×5.5. Running this bigger size of wheel will bring you some issues over the stock size which is important to be aware of.

Our tyres are of course larger than standard too. The current tyre size is 235/70R16. The tyre we chose is Toyo Open Country A/T Plus, which so far have preformed extremely well for us in the dry, wet, mud, rocks and also snow! Amazing value for money compared to other competitors.

As mentioned above, the larger size is quite a nice upgrade for a unladen Jimny without too many modifications. However there are some small problems and issues that may affect reliability:
– You will have bad rubbing issues with larger tyres without lifting your Jimny if you plan to go off roading as the articulation of the axles will cause a lot of rubbing in your wheel arches. Even with the 40mm lift we had to remove a small piece of plastic from the front stock bumper as the tyres would catch slightly at full lock. The rear tyres also rub into the top of the wheel arch ever so slightly, though this can could be prevent with better bump stops as we haven’t altered our bump stops.
– It is also worth noting that larger wheels and tyres will wear out your wheel bearings and other components at a faster rate than normal, a Jimny owner we know of has already replaced their rear wheel bearings at 16,000 miles due to off roading with larger tyres.
– The last issue we also have with our larger tyres is the effect it has on gearing. This effect is only an issue off road in our eyes. Again when unladen the difference in gearing is actually nicer on the road, however off road you can not crawl as slow as you could with smaller tyres. This makes controlling speed over larger obstacles a touch harder.

Rubbing in rear wheel arches
Location of small plastic piece which needs removing (removed in photo)

Thank you!

We hope this write up has answered some of your questions and confusions regarding the subject spoken about. It is a very common subject that is constantly spoken about and if you think we have missed anything, leave a comment down below and we will alter the write up to suit.

Useful Links

Tyre Size Calculator – Perfect website to compare different tyre sizes fitted to different size wheels, even allowing your compare two different set ups side by side.

Common Questions
1. Why 40mm and not 50mm!?
– The OME lift kit is a 40mm lift front and rear, to get 50mm you need to fit the trim packers which were not supplied with our kit. 40mm has been enough for us for now without causing any trouble.
2. Why Toyo and not BFG!?!?
– Pretty straight forward answer, price! We know that BFG tyres are literally the most popular tyre for Jimnys and others. At the time of purchase the Toyo tyres were half the price of a BFG tyre, to us that was insane. When buying 5 new tyres at once that was a saving of £350! We have yet to have any trouble with our Toyos and we love them. Providing us with plenty of grip when we need it at a very affordable rate. Time will tell how long they last which we are very keen to push to the limits.
3. Do I need longer brakes pipes?

– When lifting your car it is a good idea to fit longer brake pipes to prevent the standard ones from stretching more than they are designed to. Most upgraded brake pipes are stronger giving you better brake feedback.
4. Will a lift kit improve payload?
– To some degree some kits can improve the carrying capacity in the boot of your car, however doesn’t mean your engine will be able to pull the extra weight nor will your brakes be up to the job of slowing you down with extra weight. Be very careful with the amount of weight you add or decide to tow as it can cause problems or safety issues.

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