Too Wide? Tire Width Help Please

I am sure it has been talked about before, and i tried posting before with no results, so i am trying a new post.

I am looking at some 20.5" tires (just a pinch shorter than stock) so i can keep my climbing ability. My question comes about the width as they are nearly 8.5 width. With early Gems having somewhat difficult steering are these going to be ok to run or will it dramatically make the steering even more difficult?

Also, how do i know if i will need spacers. The wheels state a 3:4 offset.


PS I also have on my agenda to upgrade to front disk so not sure how that will impact spacer needs.

Low speed steering is gonna suck with that much contact surface. Once you’re rolling at 8-10mph it probably won’t make much difference.

If you after looking for better steering, get in touch with Rodney @Old_Houseboater about an EZ-Steer for your old gem.

Disc brake upgrade will require spacers with stock rims. NEVA sells the spacers too.

All that being said, check yourself before you start putting $2k worth of upgrades plus $800 in tires into an 00-04 shitbox that will still have an anemic motor, crap suspension design, and the wrong gear ratio for your needs.

You can’t sew a sow’s ear into a silk purse. You also can’t turn an 02 into an 08+ no matter how much money you waste on it.

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So you are saying to people, "Dont waste your money on any Gem until you get to the 2008 and up models?


But feel free to piss on the same electric fence that a number of us already did.

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pre 2005 Gems are fine for easy cruising. Start wanting faster, bigger tires and wheels and they fall short.
you can spend thousands doing upgrades and they still won’t be equal to 2005+ Gems.


I’m with @jrjava and @LithiumGods

ppl told me to avoid a pre 2006 and I didn’t listen…. I know your feelings now, “ it’s a gem, it looks almost the same and the price difference is huge”

2006s have: Suspension, steering, dashboard, speed controller, charger and brakes upgraded,

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Not to beat a dead horse… I did it too. 10k into a 2000. Was tweaking it to the end. Always something to be fixed. Sold it, bought a 2016, did a high voltage upgrade, drive it everywhere I can… Haven’t had to do anything to it since I finished the upgrade. It just works.

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Thanks. I’m sure newer is almost always better. I’m good playing with ours for a while and seeing if I really use it to it’s potential. Half the fun for me is fixing up and modifying things. If everything was a dollar cost to value thing then not sure I’d be doing too many projects.

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Sometimes we have to live it to believe it…


I don’t regret it necessarily… I learned a lot. Part of it was learning how much I liked the gem which justified what I threw into my 2016.

Lots of into of the forum and folks are here to help. Keep us posted along the journey!

I liked learning from my 02 also…

… About as much as I liked learning from VD…

… Go shore leave!

You must have had a messed up 02

02’s are like exes. They are ALL messed up.

Mine was extra special tho…

(Just don’t ask him about shore leave.)

The problem is it’s a constant game of whack a mole. You fix one thing and cause another problem.

For example, you buy a blue D&D motor to get better performance, now the brakes suck so you’re installing disk brakes. Disk brakes won’t fit the stock ties so now you’re upgrading wheels.

Then you read about lithium and decide to go that route, now the suspension rides terrible because it was designed to have the weight you just removed and you’re looking for expensive shock alternatives. (There are good front mounted batter lithium options now which help) You replace the shocks with $1k qa1 shocks, when you replace the rear shocks, you find the rear axle welds are cracked so you have to disassemble the rear end to get re-welded.

Oh wait, you’re putting high voltage through the DC to DC converter, it fails. Find out the recall hasn’t been applied, maybe the dealer will support, maybe not. 50% chance someone claimed the recall and didn’t actually install the part so you’re left carrying the bag.

Then you find you’re having controller overheat issue because of where the controller is mounted under the dash… Rebuild the controller, change the gearbox gears, go AC. AC motor won’t fit because the gearbox is dead center to the car instead of offset towards the driver’s side like the 2005, so you’re modifying the suspension.

It goes on and on. I gave up when I was ready to mess around with different shock spring weights and considering moving the controller to the front battery tray. Enough is enough and I knew I wanted a 2016 body style anyway.

Again, I learned a ton about the gems and had fun digging through the forums. Gabe says it well -


That pretty much sums it up. I didn’t spend 10k, but probably 4-5k in parts and upgrades. The final straw for my 02 was snapping one of the half-shafts on a high speed turn. I think I might bust out the bandsaw and plasma cutter later and play “kill the carcass”

My '10 on the other hand, has needed almost nothing in the last two years since I switched over to it. One or two bearings, and a new BMS. I think that’s it. I’m gonna miss that truck.


To be fair, that 10k includes the car purchase price, wet cells that got junked, trial parts (many which I still have like the 8:1 gears), AC kit with 8kw motor that was never going to fit, the a 5kw motor I bought after. I kept all the AC stuff when I sold it. A bunch more when I was experimenting.

I sold it for 7k so didn’t do too bad.

Numbers aside, spent more than I should have.

If the horse wasn’t dead, sure is now. Not going to beat it anymore!

@jonbbrew after all that, did we ever answer your question!?!

That depends on your Tarzan Grip.

Not my original
question about tire width of 8.5 but lots of other info from everyone.

Ok… yeah, we went on a tangent. On my 2000, I was running 195/60 r14 wheels. Which I think is just shy of 8". There was a lot of space so I’d think another 1/2 wouldn’t be an issue. Nothing a bigger spacer couldn’t take care of. I had disk brakes and no spacers in the front, spacers in the back. Don’t remember the size of the spacers

It’s supposed to be a zero offset so the spacers are just getting you back to zero.

@grantwest you’ve probably done the most with tires. How wide can @jonbbrew go?