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What are the largest tires ever mounted on an ML?

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M-Class (W163) 1998-2005: ML 230, ML 320, ML 350, ML 400 CDI, ML 430, ML 500, ML 270 CDI

What are the largest tires ever mounted on an ML?

 
Old 05-03-2019, 09:27 AM
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ML430, 600SEL
What are the largest tires ever mounted on an ML?

My 99 430ML has 350 000km on it and isn't in the greatest shape body wise despite welding in new panels, a little bondo, and a couple gallons of plasti-dipp...lol Though I have just spent a couple years refurbishing much of the running gear everything from the brakes up to the rockers/hydraulic lifters.

I'm willing (and excited) to cut my wheel wells/ fenders/bumpers and even hammer in the inner front wheel well if need be. Or cut cut cut cut cut cut whatever! (Nicely looking and resealed) and heck even suffer some loss of turning radius.

The truck is intended to be used up at the local crown-owned/commons off road park /mountain trails.

So assuming the above mentioned modification(s) with reindexed torsion bars and 25mm rear spring spacers....(also have the Brembo ML500/ML55 front brakes+knuckles+brake lines for increased stopping power...you know...safety third :p)

....What do you think would fit?

Would 37x12.5 or 37x14 on the 18x8.5 inch ML55 AMG five spokes would fit?
They have the least stock backspace at ET 42 mm

I also have the 17x8.5 inch 430ML rims which would be better for more sidewall flex but their backspace is ET 52 mm.

I also believe the general rule of thumb is not to go over 4 inches wider than your rim width but I could be wrong? I have enough for tires but I cannot afford after market rims before the coming season.

I would be willing to run spacers if required though it would be ideal to forgo them. With the wheel-well cut it shouldn't matter that the wheel stick out (except with the law)

The 4x4abc site (great site) quotes stock tire size is 28.39" in diameter 275/55R17

Oh and that every inch over stock costs you 3.5% in torque... (37-28.39=8.61)x-3.5=-30.1% loss in torque Lol.

What's the biggest anyone has ever fit?

I seem to remember a guy saying he had fitted 35 or larger tires once, I believe it was the uk guy with the 2000+ dark grey / silver one. The one with big dark grey chrome lipped rim's with mud on them. He said what somewhere years ago but I cant find it.

Same with the guy who reindexed his torsion bars, I believe he posted a few years ago somewhere about going with 33s or 35s or bigger but I seem to remember he said he wished he would have gone bigger?

There's also the South American guy with 35s by 11.5s?

Sorry it's been years since and when I search I cant find the specific posts.

oh and does anyone remember that other site that's like the 4x4abc one that was only available on the way back machine? I believe he talked about this topic? Wolf or something?

The w163 is starting to get to the age/ availability and price that I think it's time to go bigger!

I guess I better measure wheel wells.

Last edited by SpenserM; 05-03-2019 at 09:48 AM.
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Old 05-03-2019, 01:31 PM
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Old 05-03-2019, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by SpenserM View Post
My 99 430ML has 350 000km on it and isn't in the greatest shape body wise despite welding in new panels, a little bondo, and a couple gallons of plasti-dipp...lol Though I have just spent a couple years refurbishing much of the running gear everything from the brakes up to the rockers/hydraulic lifters.

I'm willing (and excited) to cut my wheel wells/ fenders/bumpers and even hammer in the inner front wheel well if need be. Or cut cut cut cut cut cut whatever! (Nicely looking and resealed) and heck even suffer some loss of turning radius.

The truck is intended to be used up at the local crown-owned/commons off road park /mountain trails.

So assuming the above mentioned modification(s) with reindexed torsion bars and 25mm rear spring spacers....(also have the Brembo ML500/ML55 front brakes+knuckles+brake lines for increased stopping power...you know...safety third :p)

....What do you think would fit?

Would 37x12.5 or 37x14 on the 18x8.5 inch ML55 AMG five spokes would fit?
They have the least stock backspace at ET 42 mm

I also have the 17x8.5 inch 430ML rims which would be better for more sidewall flex but their backspace is ET 52 mm.

I also believe the general rule of thumb is not to go over 4 inches wider than your rim width but I could be wrong? I have enough for tires but I cannot afford after market rims before the coming season.

I would be willing to run spacers if required though it would be ideal to forgo them. With the wheel-well cut it shouldn't matter that the wheel stick out (except with the law)

The 4x4abc site (great site) quotes stock tire size is 28.39" in diameter 275/55R17

Oh and that every inch over stock costs you 3.5% in torque... (37-28.39=8.61)x-3.5=-30.1% loss in torque Lol.

What's the biggest anyone has ever fit?

I seem to remember a guy saying he had fitted 35 or larger tires once, I believe it was the uk guy with the 2000+ dark grey / silver one. The one with big dark grey chrome lipped rim's with mud on them. He said what somewhere years ago but I cant find it.

Same with the guy who reindexed his torsion bars, I believe he posted a few years ago somewhere about going with 33s or 35s or bigger but I seem to remember he said he wished he would have gone bigger?

There's also the South American guy with 35s by 11.5s?

Sorry it's been years since and when I search I cant find the specific posts.

oh and does anyone remember that other site that's like the 4x4abc one that was only available on the way back machine? I believe he talked about this topic? Wolf or something?

The w163 is starting to get to the age/ availability and price that I think it's time to go bigger!

I guess I better measure wheel wells.
USE the search engine here on this forum and others - search terms "suspension lift" "lift spacers" "lifting the ML" "lift kits", etc........
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Old 05-03-2019, 07:19 PM
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Heres just a quick a dirty measurement of a stock 99 ML with the 18 inch ML55 "AMG" rims.

If you can't understand I'll try and clean it up later (it was damn cold outside):

REAR:

19.5" from rear mud flap to center of rim
18.25" from center of rim to outside edge of fender towards the front
20" to inner fender toward the front
22" from center of rim to rear door.
21" from center of rim to factory rear bumper mount
19.4" from center of rim to edge of upper fender. (Straight up) *stock height*
21" inches from center of rim to inner fender.

12" from inner fender to outside edge of 18x8.5 ml55 (amg) rims 5 spoke
13.5. From upper control arm to outside rim edge.

Front

19" center of rim toward rear of wheel well (horizental) stock height
21+" to inside edge of toward rear of wheel well

21.5 from frame to outside wheel edge (rear)
19.5 from frame to outside wheel edge (front)
16.5 from outside wheel edge to control arm (appears not to interfere at any wheel position as is inside of rim
14 inches from closest portion of plastic inner fender to Outside wheel edge
19 from center of wheel to outside fender (vertical)
Fender lip is 1 and quarter inch
18 center to front bumper
22 center to top of plastic inner fender

I'm thinking the two main clearance issues resistant to modification / cutting are:

-The rear wheel tub, the upper portion and perhaps in behind the side of the tire.

-The front frame rails.

It looks like without modifying the above mentioned 37.5x13.50 would fit with (potentially lots) of rubbing at full lock on inside tire first. (Due to way wheel moved in wheel well even though theres more an inch more clearance with wheel in straight ahead position)

And perhaps in the rear on full flex / bottoming out.
It's hard to say really cause I believe the rear wheel moves in a 3d space and not only up and down.

37.50x12.50 might be the more prudent choice.

Though employing spacers is always an option (as is major cutting / replacing the wheel tubs). There still might be issues in though in the front.

A body lift may help for the rear clearance.

On another note you're not "supposed" to cut or weld to a frame though 4x4 people do it all the time. Lol.

In the front on turn in you could do some cutting or dinting to the frame, or even shortening or thinning. Lots of work to do that though with reinforcement. However the rear part on turn out appears to be more in the way, adjusting the frame there would be difficult because the torsion bars attach.

I'll need tires or tire stand-ins to properly cycle the suspension and see for sure as well as removing my (awesome) fender liners.

I also found out that 8.5 inch wide rims are recommended not to exceed 12.50 tire width. However you can go another inch over but this will cause the tire to be thinner and the edges of the tire to further "turn in" and not make as much contact with the ground. However there are advantages in the fitting department, protecting your rim, and keeping the bead seated.

Unfortunately 37x12.50x18 seems to be the unicorn size amougnst the cheap Chinese tire "retailers" in my area and in the used market. Plenty of 37x12.50x17 tho it appears.

Also the price seems to jump considerably above 35 inch (prices in Canadian pesos, tires only)

33x12.50R20 - - - - - - - - - - - - $899 /ALL 4
35x12.50R20 - - - - - - - - - - - - $899 /ALL 4
33x12.50R18 - - - - - - - - - - - - $899 /ALL 4
35x12.50R18 - - - - - - - - - - - - $899 /ALL 4
33x12.50R17 - - - - - - - - - - - - $899 /ALL 4
35x12.50R17 - - - - - - - - - - - - $899 /ALL 4


37x13.50x20- - - - - - - - - - - - - $1299 /ALL 4

37x13.50x18- - - - - - - - - - - - - $1299 /ALL 4

I think I may have found some locally for only $1099 however I lost the ad. These Chinese tire guys seem to he really duking it out on trying to beat each other in prices. I imagine the tires suck but it's almost twice the money for not nearly new enough name brands.

I won't be doing much rock crawling or street driving so tire compound softness or noise aren't much of a concern which is what the name brand tires apparently excel at.

Last edited by SpenserM; 05-03-2019 at 07:32 PM.
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Old 05-03-2019, 08:09 PM
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Just found Wolfgang's site on the way back machine:

https://web.archive.org/web/20050207...4/offroad.html

Also have found some posts by him and others I'll link here in an edit.
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Old 06-05-2019, 12:18 AM
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Ok. Just wanted to update some general info I found.

-The guy who reindexed his torsion bar keys two notches says he thinks it would have been better to just rotate the bar by one in the hexagon for even more lift. Removing the keys is a pain and takes heat aswell.
-Your suspension should always have some drop, about an inch. So if you crank up your bars or springs and dont have that bit of droop then that's bad. It's also bad for offroad too lol.
-The Ford 99 generation f150 front shocks are ~1 inch shorter than stock and fit. You have to cut off a small piece of your old shocks that fit into the lower control arm but it will even work without that. If you were to get 2 inch lifting shocks that means you could get 1 inch more travel than stock. 3 inch lifting shocks 2 inches more travel than stock, etc.
-When you start changing the angle of your CV axles it can "exponentially increase wear". If you go too high the inner part of the axle cup hits the axle shaft causing extreme wear and even failure. The Jeep KJ guys who also have IFS have this figured out. They machine 1/2" inch off:

"JBA, Jeep Liberty, front driver side CV axle assembly with the 1/2" machined off the face of the inner joint. With this assembly you can lift you Jeep Liberty over 2-1/2" and the CV joints will not fail. "



They lift them to 4+ inches and the axles appear to have significantly more angle than the w163 would ever have at a lifted ride height.


- I read somewhere that at 3 or 3.5 inches of lift you're nearly maxing out the adjustment range on the upper control arm for camber. There is plenty of metal to expand that slot to get more camber adjustment if need be.


-another possibility is to just drop the whole front subframe, upper control arm mounts, extend the steering shaft, and put a spacer on the front driveshaft. The cool thing is these spacers and steering shaft extensions should already exist as the ML uses standard drive shaft (I forget the brand but every 4x4 uses them) and probably uses a standard size steering shaft. All you'd need then is the spacers, longer bolts, and either modify the upper control arm bracket or construct drop brackets. You'd also need drop brackets for the anti roll bar, and torsion bar mounts. And longer shocks. I have a theory you could however drop the lower subframe say 1/2" to 1 inch with only an extension for the drive shaft, the steering shaft, the front torsion bar mounts and modifying the upper control arm mount.



- A body lift has been done on the ML at least twice before with at least one picture of it in progress. No real info. A moderate body lift should only need the longer 8 bolts, the spacers, and the steering shaft extension. Sometimes you need to modify the gas filler tube. You also will need to modify your bumpers as they are attached to the frame.


-For the rear there's of course the strut spacers that everyone talks about and does to equal with the front torsion bar lift. It's not a 1:1 ratio for the spacer height and lift height. If you go too big on the spacer it becomes hard to install the shock without further disassembling the suspension. For this reason some gain a little bit of lift by putting a 3-4mm washer on the lower ball joint and then use a 20mm upper spacer. I think this gets you 3.5 inches of lift with the 30mm lift springs. If you go too high on the lift the factory spring will touch the upper control arm and you run out of camber. Thinner springs or modifying the upper control arm are potential fixes, or even moving the upper spring mount inwards.
- There are aftermarket lift springs on Ebay right now. Factory springs tend to crack break a lot at the bottom progressive part.
-People have made adjustable coil overs using universal threaded coil over kits in the proper diameter and custom ordered springs in different strengths. Info is on the forums.
- There is also the option of going with a different shock in the rear. A guy who runs a place called seaside customs in Poland has recently build a set from a panjeyo or something. They dont have the ball joint bottoms though and have the typical rubber mounts which should fit. He hasn't tried them out yet but it's an interesting idea to get more up and down travel.


Ok so let's say you got


2-4 inch lift from suspension mods
2-4 inch lift from body lift
3-4 inch lift from tires


5-12 inches of total lift that's like 20 inches of clearance under the subframe, woah.

Rear spacers and info:
"Q3. Can you supply other sizes?
A2. Yes, you can order 30mm spacers, however, the best combination i found was with use of 20mm spacer + raised king heavy duty springs (KMRR-91 or KMRR-91SP) and 3-4mm thick washer between the shock absorber and lower swing arm. Heavy duty springs will give the car extra 100kg - 150kg load on the back and reduce the body roll after the lift. Approx 3 1/2 inches of lift will be achieved in total. Any more lift and camber can no longer be adjusted and spring will start to hit upper swing arm while fully extended."


https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.com.au%2Fulk%2Fitm%2 F233155861557



Rear lift springs 30mm:
https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.com.au%2Fulk%2Fitm%2 F150740369486


I'll update with more info as I progress.

Last edited by SpenserM; 06-05-2019 at 12:39 AM.
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Old 06-05-2019, 01:17 AM
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Oh also I figured out the AMG rims I have are 18x9 not 18x8.5. Which changes my measurements a few posts above.

These means that 13.5 tire width is only .5 over the 4 inch recommendation.

37x13.50 is the tire size I was thinking of trying.

However I'm kind of partial to the look an ML has when it appears to be able "tuck" the rear tires inside the rear fender. And even though I want to cut my fenders, etc I'd rather not have the rear tires stick out.

Based on my measurements there almost seems to seems to be enough space on the inside to run with the 17x8.5 rims and less backspacing and possibly 13-13.5 wide tires and maybe still come in under rear fender. But not 18x9 cause of the backspacing. Tough choice.

I'm thinking maybe it's best to run the 17s as I can always run spacers. I'm thinking I'll probably want to run more track width in the front regardless so as to increase turning radius.

I also had an idea that maybe you could disconnect the outer rear fender skin from everything and push it out a bit.

I'm also gonna go to the junkyard this week and mess around with an ML there. I want to disconnect the shocks and see how much more droop you get. I also want to drop the subframes and experiment with that and also get additional measurements, check clearances, etc.

I've also been toying with this crazy idea to use pneumatic cylinders as body mounts so you could on the fly lift the truck. Maybe it could even give you a softer ride lol. You'd need an adjustable sleeve on the steering shaft.

I wish I could find some w124 locking diffs as well. It would also be cool to modify the 4-ETS or at least run the 4-ets+ computer. Maybe you need the computer and the ABS module/block. Theres no info on this if it's possible.

There is a suggestion on Wolfgang's site to modify (ie disconnect with a switch) the brake light switch so you can get two feet driving mode and still have the 4-ETS in the 98-99 models.

I suppose another possible mod is to weld the spider gears (if they exist) inside the center diff. You would lose some of the ABS and ESP function though. Theres a pic and some talk of this, even adding a shift fork and actuator for on and off full time 4x4 on Wolfgang's site but no other info, I've searched and searched even on that rally teams website going back to 98.
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