Replacing 12" trailer wheels with 16" Jeep wheels

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Replacing 12" trailer wheels with 16" Jeep wheels

Postby Zilonox » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:29 pm

I have recently acquired a 4x6 Carry On utility trailer from NT and would like to replace the 12" wheels on it with ones the same 16" ones I have on my '03 TJ Rubicon. Both the trailer and the Jeep have a 5x4.5 bolt pattern. I was able to find that the Jeep hub diameter is 71.5mm, but I'm not certain what the trailer hub diameter is. I can swap some tires around this weekend to test the fit, but my real concern is the whether the axel and/or hubs can handle the bigger tires.

I can't seem to find any good information about this. Don't get me wrong, I've read/watched people changing axles or hubs and even adding hub spacers, so doing the work is something I can handle. But do I need to do it is what I can't seem to find. I've included some basic info about the trailer as well as the sticker I found on the axle.

I'm all for learning how to fish rather than being given a fish, so I don't mind if you want to point me in the right direction rather than flat out giving an answer. :) I've searched the forums here as well as google in general (along with youtube) and have found people talking about jeep wheels on trailers, but could not find anything specific about my trailer/wheel combo and whether or not any upgrades to the hubs or axles need to be done. :(


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Re: Replacing 12" trailer wheels with 16" Jeep wheels

Postby KTM_Guy » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:37 pm

I have been pulling my hair out on this also. And I can't afford to loose much more. I think your best bet is to pull some tires and see what you have. The problems I see is if the spindle will fit thru the hub on the tire. I have been told it will by a few people and I have see builds where it wouldn't. The other problem is the backspace on the Jeep wheels. If you have stock wheels you might have more backspace ( my Rubicon's is like 6.24") so the inside of the tire may rub on the fender or frame. If you have 33" plus tires your wheels are going to have less backspace, more like 4". That would push the tire out 2" and might clear.

As far as the axle, hard to say. If money was no object I would replace. Other wise replace the bearings with so good quality ones, make sure everything is good and keep an eye on it. Also don't over build. I only read a few things about axle hub failures and each time was running long distances on nasty washboards. Airing down on the tires can help that.


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Re: Replacing 12" trailer wheels with 16" Jeep wheels

Postby Pinstriper » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:37 pm

My TD was built on a 4x8 Carryon, likely the same axle. I just moved up to 15’s, but they were trailer steel rims with no offset, and radial tires. No spacers were needed in my case.

I think you’ll want to find out what the offset is on your jeep rims, but in the end, just do a test fit. If there is sufficient clearance to the frame, and the hub size is correct, you are good to go.

If the hubs are wrong size, you’re looking at new hubs which is probably easiest done with a new axle. If the hubs is good but you need clearance, get a spacer that gives you sufficient clearance, or go with different rims.

Then check your fenders for clearance. You may need taller and wider.

In my case, the above was just too much effort for me, and I didn’t want to go through the order-fit-return cycles to get it all right, so I took her to the trailer shop and told them to just do what it needed. Probably cost be an extra $75-100. Worth it.

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Re: Replacing 12" trailer wheels with 16" Jeep wheels

Postby Woodbutcher » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:35 pm

I have a NT trailer that I upgraded to 15" steel trailer wheels, which I think were 6" wide. I needed to add 1" wheel spacers. I did build over the frame, because I didn't want to see it. There are over 20K trouble free miles on the trailer now. The width will be your problem, as I believe Jeep rims are 8" plus tire overhang.
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Re: Replacing 12" trailer wheels with 16" Jeep wheels

Postby Shadow Catcher » Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:38 am

Jeep wheels implies places Jeeps go which tells me you want substantial which means replace. You should look at and look at their information. Lots of good stuff.
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Re: Replacing 12" trailer wheels with 16" Jeep wheels

Postby Padilen » Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:49 am

Do able yes, sensible not so much. The cheaper trailers have lighter axles, springs, and spindles, bearings that are only as good as needed for the axle. A typical Jeep wheel tire combos increases the weight placed on those axle components. Then the axle lenght/frame clearance issues are also possible. Spacers may work, fenders may clear, frame may clear, frame may or may not be strong enough. Costs may increase..
I have tried economically to do this so many times and failed ! Costs is just too high. I'm sticking with 15" trailer wheels. At least now my CTC and utility trailer have size in common. And to have that I had to remove brakes and hubs from axle. As wheels were 14" 4 bolt hole with unique pattern. I had 4 wheels, all with old bias ply tires. Buying new tires while, replacement size was available. The tires would have been a lot lower profile. So hubs off an unused axle bought for my planned Jeep trailer on 16", that never came to be. Got pulled and placed on axle, new 15" wheels &tires bought, for now both trailers "share" the spare tire. Replacement tires were needed regardless. But to do the wheels, and hubs added about 300$ unplanned to my utility trailer build. Basically because when I checked I missed, over all dimensions of the 14" replacement tires. Planned my build and installed old wheels and tires. Used it locally after welder /fab's major screw up was fixed. Very happy with it, then went to replace tires.! So to keep my ground clearance, tongue hight, and not to have a huge gap between tire and fenders- 15"! And still happy, just poorer.
In the pic you can see the old 14" wheel/tire. It's huge, even bigger than the 15". In the pic we are fixing spring hangers that were installed incorrectly. I guess I've never taken any pics since summer. Image

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Re: Replacing 12" trailer wheels with 16" Jeep wheels

Postby aggie79 » Mon Jan 15, 2018 9:08 am

From the tag, your axle appears to be a light-duty Dexter axle. The "2K" stands for 2000# capacity, the "60" is the hub face to hub face dimension, and the "47" is the spring center to spring center dimension.

Dexter's literature is not the most user friendly. Here is a link to some information: Note: this literature mixes both torsion axle and leaf spring axle information.

It appears that your "overhang" is 6-1/2". (60" face to face less 47" center to center divided by 2). The same spec axle can have up to a 7.62" overhang. If the hub diameter works with your wheel centers, and 1" spacer will offset the wheels enough to clear the frame, you may want to think about swapping the axle instead of using wheel spacers. (As others have commented, you may want to increase the axle load rating if you swap out the axle.)

Haven't been able to find any source, Dexter or otherwise, as to the hub diameter. On the website I did see a dimension for "grease cap flange diameter" as 1.986". Although the grease cap flange is almost the same diameter as the hub where it it pressed on to, the hub probably tapers wider as you get closer to the inner edge.
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Re: Replacing 12" trailer wheels with 16" Jeep wheels

Postby Zilonox » Mon Jan 15, 2018 7:09 pm

Thank you all for your input!

I was not able to put a Jeep wheel on the trailer because the fender is in the way. It's welded on and I know I'll need to remove it to put bigger wheels on, but did not want to do so just yet. Nor did I try to put the trailer wheel on the Wrangler (to test hub size) because I instead started building the outer shell.

Reading your posts though tells me what I suspected (but hoped against)--I should replace the axle when I upgrade the tires. There goes my plan for doing this cheaply.

Because I need to to have this functional in two weeks, I'll plan on keeping the wheels are they are for now. The weight limit on the axle matches the tow limit of the Jeep anyway, so I've already planned on building lightly. I'd like to take the trailer off-road on occasion and having spares that can work on either the trailer or the tow vehicle is an idea I like a lot, but those will have to take a back seat for now.

Thank you all for the replies, links and information! This is a great site with a great community!

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Re: Replacing 12" trailer wheels with 16" Jeep wheels

Postby swoody126 » Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:05 am

been waiting to chime in on this one to read what others have to say

their comments follow along closely w/ my personal experiences

you do have 2 more possibilities available for keeping/using the stock undercarriage

4.80/12" "st" tires have a weight cap of around 990#/ea which falls in line w/ the Wrangler trlr weight cap of 2000#

12" "st" tires also come in 5.30/12" and in addition to being a smidge wider/taller they have a weight cap of about 50# more per tire which would give you a bit of a load/weight cushion

the other possibility is to goto using automotive tires

they do come in 12" size and can be ordered from Discount Tire and other sources

however Tire stores will try to talk you out of using them and maybe even to the extent of refusing to mount them on trailer wheels which are different than auto wheels butt will work quite well

both of these 2 options will give you a smidge more load cap and a smidge more ground clearance

as you already know FENDER & FRAME CLEARANCE must be confirmed

outlaw tire stores are more likely to help you check the clearance issue if you are willing to pay them for their time if you find these options aren't viable for your trailer

btw, i have used the 4.80 > 5.30 switch on both 8"(boat trlr) & 12"(utility trlr) wheels with good results and used the auto tires on 12" boat trlr wheels replacing 13" trlr wheel/tire combinations successfully

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