18" vs 20" for towing and off-road

Wilde

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Replacing the 22" rims which I hate for either 18" or 20" rims. The idea is to use 34" Cooper Discoverer AT3 XLT tires.

18" rims would be better off-road with more ability to air down. They'd also probably provide a better on-road ride. 20" rims would provide a stiffer sidewall for towing and I like the way they look more than 18 inchers.

Towing happens 6-10 times a year. 6500lbs 26' trailer. Off-roading maybe once a month in mostly desert environments.

So, I'm on the fence. Any insight would be appreciated.
 

Expedition Dave

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W/O getting into it to deep on the looks vs form, etc. opinion, I think the 18s offer more tire options and you could always go up a stiffness class or air them up over 40PSI.

It has been my experience on standard trucks SUVs that tire sizes above 18 inches ride harsher and transmits more NVH, especially after a few years and more miles. YMMV.

It seems like a near 50/50 experience for tow vs. off-road, but if you fully feel you have more stability on the highway, towing, and at speed that is a safety/confidence issue so I think that might be your answer. Off-roading is a lark and at slow speeds so if you get stuck you can buy cheap stuff to unstuck you where at highway speeds towing heavy... not so much.
 

Lou Hamilton

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I went with 18” wheels on 34” tires (Nitto Ridge Grappler LT285/70 R18).

I am the exact opposite of you, I will be towing much more than off-road. I went LT tires so they are much stiffer than their P counterparts.

After almost 500 miles on the new setup, the ride is a bit more harsh but I love them. I haven’t towed yet. That is coming up on 18 February 2021 and it will be around a 3.5 hour trip.

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lefty hack

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I went 18” on my platinum with AT pathfinder from discount tire. Admittedly my tire knowledge isn’t super deep. I tow a 9’ trailer on the highway and the mountain trails getting fire wood among other things. It is our daily driver also. I inflate to 50 for daily use and 35 for off road. Temperature range that I use it in is desert heat of 108 down to mountain cold of zero ish. Conditions are Mud,snow and gravel. These tires have been awesome for the 1.5 year and 30000 miles including 8000 on a cross country road trip.


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Deadman

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If you put E's on the Expedition, its gonna ride like a dump truck in my opinion. Its a half ton, its not even rated for enough weight to need E's. But if you want a STIFF tire, an E is what you need.

I'd compromise with a 20, so you don't need such a heavy tire and then it will ride good AND not have the sidewall flex of the 18. My opinion.......
 

Lou Hamilton

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If you put E's on the Expedition, its gonna ride like a dump truck in my opinion. Its a half ton, its not even rated for enough weight to need E's. But if you want a STIFF tire, an E is what you need.

I'd compromise with a 20, so you don't need such a heavy tire and then it will ride good AND not have the sidewall flex of the 18. My opinion.......

I've been riding on LT tires since around 2014 when I replaced my stock tires on my Honda Pilot.

Yes, they are rough, but the CCD suspension paired with the 18" sidewalls make it much softer than a dump truck. And I would know because I learned to drive stick on a 1970's era dump truck for the family construction business. I drove the crap out of that thing starting around 18 years old. I was towing a flat bed trailer with a backhoe or construction materials with that dump truck. Now, that was a HORRIBLE ride. LOL!!!
 

JasonH

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I have load range "E" on 20s. I don't have anything to compare to other than my current setup, but it rides fine and tows much better when I air up the tires. One thing I've noticed lately is that I think my struts are worn, because the impact is fine, but rebound is not controlled sufficiently. But I have 116,000 miles, so that's probably to be expected. Ours is a daily driver and tow vehicle, so I needed a decent compromise and I feel like I got what I wanted. For daily driving I have the pressure set at 45 psi. The truck came with Sailuns, which were ok. I replaced those with used Hankooks (I believe those are OEM on F150) and they were too mushy while towing for me. They made a poor handling vehicle handle even worse. For me, the current setup has been a good compromise between comfort and capability. I would see if a tire shop would let you try an 18" and 20" setup for a week. It's long-term investment, so you want something that's going to work for the long run.
 

shane_th_ee

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I’ve heard the trick to minimizing the ride harshness is to reduce the air pressure in the E rated tires when you’re not towing...
 

Fozzy

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LT tires aired down ride pretty good. Just keep in mind the heat generated with a under inflated tire. My tires are 3190 lbs at 65 PSI. I run them around town and on trips at 38 PSI cold. If I tow at 38 PSI the tires get hot fast. I will air them up to 45 PSI cold and the tires run cool again with my 500 lbs tongue weight at almost 7K boat. Anything over 45 PSI I have some crowning on the contact patch as the Expy is not heavy enough to keep the tires flat. I went 20’s as something in the middle but wish I did 18’s. Maybe on my Gen 5.


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