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Fitting the Right Wheels to Your F150

Fitting the Right Wheels to Your F150

Building a truck is a ton of fun. The aftermarket offers so much, from appearance to performance parts, and you can virtually build any type of truck for any type of job. Despite all of this, these builds would be incredibly short lived without the wheel. The wheel is one of the oldest inventions, if not the oldest, in the transportation history book. You’d think it’d be fool proof to pick out the right wheels for your ride, but there are some things you need to know before diving into this—not just that they wouldn’t work if they were square.

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Wheels make a statement, but they also add functionality to your F150. Whether you're looking for show-stopping chrome or off-road designed beadlocks, outfitting wheels to your F150 is a reflection of how you use your truck and your personal style.

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Ford F150 Wheels: Size & Offset

You’d think it’d be fool proof to pick out the best wheels for your ride, but there are some things you need to know before diving into this—not just that they wouldn’t work if they were square. Wheel size will not only dictate the type of ride, but also dictate types of tires you can use and how those tires will function. A good rule of thumb is the larger the rim the shorter the sidewall. As the sidewall gets shorter, the tire will become stiffer. We’ll elaborate in a bit, but it’s important to know this upfront. You also need to know that making the wheel any smaller than what came from the factory isn’t recommended, but also may not be possible.

Major components of the brake system live within the wheel’s rear opening. It goes without saying that this space is super crucial. Making the opening smaller means the fit will be tight if the wheel would even go on. It would likely bind up and destroy not just your day but your wallet too. It’s a bad idea. Don’t do it.

Now that we understand a little bit about why the diameter of the wheel is important, let’s talk about the offset. The center of a truck's wheel isn’t just stylish; it’s functional. The mounting pad lives here, and the offset tells us where exactly it lives in relation the centerline of the wheel.  If you looked down on the top of the wheel, you could find the center line.

Depending on the width of the wheel, and the tire you plan to use, you need to find what offset will work best for you. The offset is measured with the baseline at 0 millimeters. Therefore a 0 millimeter offset will have the mounting pad at the center of the wheel. 

Positive offset would bring the mounting pad outward while pulling the wheel inward. On the opposite end of the scale a negative offset would bring the mounting pad to the inner edge of the wheel, pushing the wheel outward. It seems a little confusing at first but it’s really easy to get a handle on it.

Different years of the F150 arrive with different wheel sizes. It’s important to know your baseline to provide yourself a starting point to work from. For your personal gains, here is a list of factory sizes and offsets of F150’s since 1997.

  • 2015-current: 17x7.5 (6x135) 44mm offset
  • 2009-2014: 17x7.5 (6x135) 44mm offset
  • 2004-2008: 17x7.5 (7x150) 44mm offset
  • 2004-2008: 17x7.5 (6x135) 44mm offset
  • 1997-2003: 17x7.5  (5x135) 14mm offset
  • 1997-2003: 16x7 (5x135) 14mm offset

Ford F150 Wheels: Applications

You might ask yourself why would you want to change the wheel size in the first place? We did mention tires and their functionality, but there’s a little more to it. To select the correct tire, we need to understand the end goal of the truck as a whole. You wouldn’t want to throw 22-inch rims with rubber bands on a truck you’re taking out to the mud bog, and you wouldn’t want bogger tires on a street truck.

Off-road tires work their best when they’re aired down. Letting the air out creates more contact surface on the rough terrain, and a smaller rim does play a factor in how soft this is. The tires will generally be much wider than the factory options; this is why a wider rim with a negative offset is desirable.

A taller rim with a shorter sidewall will be a lot stiffer, making it better on asphalt than your conventional bogger rubber. There is a point where the size of the wheel becomes more about styling than function, but it can have its benefits.

Remember when we said the brakes live within this opening? The bigger the opening, the more room you’re going to have for brake upgrades. Bigger brakes mean better drivability both on- and off-road, and this is why you might consider moving to a larger wheel.

What are Beadlock Wheels?

When shopping around, you’ll find that a ton of aftermarket wheels have a beadlock on them, or, as is usually the case, an imitation beadlock. As mentioned before styling comes into play, but a beadlock serves a big purpose. Consider situations where you air down the tires. Greater traction while off-roading to tackle more difficult terrain, and to keep sharper rocks from puncturing your tire. The more powerful the engine, the harder the tire will be pushed. If the tire bites into something hard, and the torque hits it just right, it can be pulled off the rim. It’s also likely a rock or a stump will knock off this bead while you’re out thrashing about.

The beadlock works to clamp the tire in place in order to keep this from happening. You also find these on high-powered track cars, but for all intents and purposes, it’s more of an off-road thing for F150s. Many people attempt DIY beadlocks, but it's better to buy beadlock rims.

There is one major problem; beadlocks are outlawed on the street. It’s a shame but it’s true. The reason for this is the law feels there is more room for something to go wrong, despite that the bead is “locked” into place. The fear is if the bolts were to come lose by vibration, the tire would immediately be pulled from the wheel. This is unfortunate because a bead lock’s function is awesome, and they look aggressive. Hence why imitation beadlocks are so popular. You get the look and feel of the off-road truck while keeping the law off your back. 

Don't Forget to Enjoy Yourself

This whole guide has been more of a utility base. As we were diving through the purposes and functions of the wheel, and what’s important, we seldom talked about the styling. A wheel is a wheel. No matter what you’re doing the wheel is always doing the same thing. Basically, they will work in all sorts of territory.

Have fun with it. Make your truck look the way you want it to look. Just because you have a nice set of all terrains and some sweet off-road looking wheels to match doesn’t mean it has to be used for just that. Do what you like because you like it. It can be that simple and that fun.

Fitment includes: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, XL, XLT, Lariat, Lightning, KingRanch, HarleyDavidson, STX, FX2, FX4, Limited, SVTRaptor, Platinum, FXTremor