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One of the first appearance mods car and truck owners make is their wheels. Even though the OEMs are providing some really nice optional wheels these days, enthusiasts want their vehicle to look unique, to stand out from the crowd.
Back in the day when 400 horsepower street cars were rare and top speeds over 130 MPH equally rare, aftermarket wheels were subject to much lower levels of stress. Now, you can buy a 707 HP Hellcat at your local Dodge dealer and push 200 MPH top end speed and 1+ G cornering speeds. Same thing for trucks; a 400 HP/900 lb. ft. torque turbo diesel pickup truck is also waiting for you on the RAM dealer’s lot. This used to be the output of big rigs, and indeed these trucks come with tow and haul ratings that rate them at about half of a big rig.
Along with these new levels of power comes more weight. The Hellcat has a curb weight of 4,448 pounds, and our Project Hardworking Hauler RAM 3500 dually Cummins truck weighs about 8,500 pounds from the factory. We have extended range fuel tanks providing 85 gallons of diesel capacity. All fueled up with two people onboard the truck tops the scales at 9,500 pounds. And it is rated to tow up to 27,000 pounds.
Manufacturers like Dodge and RAM have to keep all of these weights and stresses in mind when they design and produce the wheels for our vehicles. You can rely on OEM wheels to have the strength you need. More than that, wheel and tire combinations impact aspects of a vehicles handling; changes in width and diameter from factory specs can produce undesired changes in caster, camber, toe, and scrub radius. Increases in overall diameter of the tire can reduce braking effectiveness.
Gone are the days when you can just throw on some cheap, cool looking rims and not worry about anything. Sophisticated cars and trucks have sophisticated needs and great care needs to be taken when changing things. For truck owners, strength is paramount. Who knows if those cheap overseas manufactured rims were engineered correctly for your vehicle? Towing your race trailer on a downhill curve is the worst place to find out if they lack the strength you need.
We kept all of this in mind when we went looking for new tires and a new look for the Hardworking Hauler. As its name says, this truck works for a living. We didn’t want to risk increasing tire wear or stress on suspension and steering components, so we choose Toyo’s new Open Country C/T tires. We’re very happy with them; you can read our review on them in the October 2016 MoparMax issue