How Much Lift Needed to Fit 33-inch tires on a Chev Silverado

Interested to know what is needed to make a pair of 33” tires fit on your Stock Chevy Silverado, then this write-up should answer all your 33” tire questions and more. A 33” tire upgrade on a Silverado just looks so good and really compliments the trucks square boxy features. The 33-inch tire is a decent middle-round between performances and looks.

To make a 33-inch tire fit on a Chevy Silverado requires a minimum of a 2 to 3-inch suspension upgrade or a 2-3” front-end leveling kit.  

A factory stock Silverado comes fitted with a 31-inch to 32-inch tire. If you ask me that’s a bit small for such a large truck. One would think a 33” would be the better looking stock wheel and tire option. Be that as it may, the factory stock rims are 8-inch wide with a 24mm wheel offset. Those wheel arches are quite square too, which kind of limits your clearance somewhat when going big.

The Silverado comes equipped with a 255/70/17 up to 285/45/22 tire and rim combo, depending on the trim level. That’s roughly a 1-inch difference between the biggest and smallest tire sizes.

So let’s see what’s exactly required to make a 33” tire fit and what mods are necessary to do a hassle-free upgrade.

Biggest Tires on Stock Chevy 3500

The lower you go with your lift the more modifications are necessary to make them fit so a 2” lift will help with clearance however you’ll need to do some fender lining massaging and trimming of wheel well plastic. This is especially necessary to prevent scrubbing at full lock.

So a stock Silverado can accommodate the smallest 33” tire like a skinny 33”, also commonly referred to as “pizza cutters” it’s a 75-inch side wall profile with a narrower width. This will offer improved ground clearance, however it won’t look at aesthetically pleasing as a true 33”

See how they compare to the Toyota Tacoma 3rd Gen here

These tire sizes are roughly 32.7” and come in the form of a 255/85 r16 or 255/80 r17 which is 33×10 (roughly) and will fit on a stock suspension with no lift and little to no rubbing. The width of a 255 works well, as long as you don’t fit negative offset rims or thick wheel spacers. 

Will 33 Inch Tires Fit Chevy Silverado?

33-inch tire upgrades are by far the most popular on the Silverado’s and Sierras. That’s is because they are a decent improvement over the stock 31’s with the least amount of modifications necessary. It’s the cheapest way to get a good upgraded look, with improved on road and off road performance.

It’s a very popular upgrade for guys going off road and enjoy doing slippery, muddy tracks. What also helps for backspacing and wheel clearance of the UCA is fitting aftermarket wheels with a slightly less positive offset, like a negative 6mm will give you a wider stance. Yes, the wheels will poke out the stock fender wells by a few inches, but nothing too radical.

When fitting a 33” on a stock 3500 there will be rubbing on the inside fender walls. You need a minimum of a 2-inch suspension kit and a small front end leveling kit on the front end to accommodate the width of a 33” tire without scrubbing at full lock or full turn in reverse.

If you’re running stock rims with 33” tires you can opt for a small wheel spacer to improve the clearance from the UCA.

Running 35” on a 3-4” lift kit

35-inch tires can be tricky to fit on these trucks, since they have IFS suspensions and square wheel arches, similar to the Tacoma’s. They also require a bit of modifications to make a 35” work and to get them to perform flawlessly – no doubt.

With 35” on a 3-4” lift kit, there will be rubbing on the lower valence under the front bumper as well as the wheel well. You’ll need to shave away some of the inner wheel well plastic trim to create more clearance. 35” tires will touch at full lock with some resistance on the steering. This is especially true with a very nobly aggressive MT tire.

35-inches will offer better ground clearance off-road allowing you to attempt bigger obstacles, however the tight clearance at full lock will be an issue. In most cases, with a bigger lift such as a 6-inch, you’ll have a fantastic off-road capable truck that looks the part too. The downside is the cost and practicality as a daily driver. Not everyone likes such a high truck for daily use. Entry and exit can become tiresome over time.

How Does 33” Tires Affect Ride Quality on the Silverado

Since the wider 33’s have more surface area making contact with the road, the handling and traction will be improved both on road and off-road. The bigger tires absorbs road imperfections better and the increased tire walls offers an increased ride height and makes for better visibility all round. A higher tire wall also allows you to deflate the tires more which offers a longer and slightly wider footprint. This is very helpful when driving in sand, mud and snow.

How Does 33” Tires Affect Fuel Economy on the Silverado

Increased unsprang weight is the quickest way to increase fuel consumption. The heavier tires directly affects the consumption since it’s below the suspension and means the engine and drivetrain is required to work harder to move the heavier wheels along. This is especially true when pulling off.

How Does 33” Tires Affect Performance on the Silverado

You will feel a slightly more sluggish performance on pull off however once the momentum picks up it fades off. The heavier tires increases the breaking distance slightly too, so you’ll need to compensate for these increases by adjusting your driving style slightly. It’s not a major difference, but it is there if you know your truck well. This is especially true with trucks that have lower torque figures. Toyota Tacoma’s are especially susceptible to this which can read about here.

Loss of torque can be felt on the wheels when doing extreme off-road obstacles or when climbing out very steep inclines. The engine needs to work harder to get the same result. It’s not nearly as bad as 35-inch tires though. The 2” of extra ground clearance under the vehicle comes in handy when off road. The taller tire makes a noticeable difference.

Which offset works on a Silverado

The -6 offset works perfectly with the 33” tires since there is some minor poke. It also offers improves backspacing and interior wheel arch clearance at full lock. There is no touching of control arms or leaf springs or any other clearance issues. No rubbing at full lock either. 33” with a -6 offset is the most hassle-free tire and rim combo option.

Resources

Rough Country 2″ leveling kit (Amazon)

2.5″ Front end Leveling kit (Amazon)

3″ front end Leveling Kit (Amazon)

Rancho Shock Absorber for Silverado (Amazon)

3.5″ Front and 3″ Rear Full Lift Kit (Amazon)

Conclusion

For a 35” tire you’ll need at least a 6” lift and possibly a small front leveling kit to make the tire sit and function perfectly at full lock and full articulation off-road. You will do well to fit a slightly more negative offset aftermarket wheel to improve the backspacing and the distance from the UCA and inner wheel well.

33” tires are a lot less of an issue with a small 2” lift they will fit nicely and no further mods to the wheel linings are needed.

Jade C.

4-Wheel drives and off-road driving techniques has been my passion for over 20 years. Here we strive to provide the most accurate, up-to-date, information about the functionality, common faults and latest technology built into most 4 Wheel Drives.

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