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Putting 29 inch Tires On A Stock 4th Gen Outback

No lift kit needed to get started on the trails

One of the most common questions we get about off-road Subarus is “how big of a tire can I fit on my _____ without a lift?” Now while we highly suggest installing a lift kit if you want to take full advantage of your Subaru’s off-road capabilities, some folks don’t need it and may not want to install one for various reasons. Some people are also wanting to gradually build their car and a new set of tires is one of the quickest ways you can improve performance.

You may have seen my review of the Kumho Road Venture AT51. I beat the crap out of them and really put them to the test on the trails. But then I wanted another mud terrain for my trail rig so I switched up my wheel/tire combo. So I now had my Method MR502’s and AT51’s sitting around without any purpose. Well I decided to put them on a friends daily driver to see how well they fit so I could share the results with you all.

I was able to get them mounted and fitted into the wheel wells with no issues. The car gets driven every day and performs great on gravel roads. In this quick article I’ll explain how I got them to fit, exactly what sizes and specs everything is, and what tools you will need if you’re planning to install a similar tire on your Outback.

Table of Contents

Maximum Tire Size On An Outback Without A Lift

2012 Subaru Outback With Method Race Wheels and Offroad Tires

The Kumho Road Ventures that we installed on this car are a 235/75R15 tire that is a mild all terrain. I loved using these tires in the forest. They handled well on light trails and snow. They weigh in at 34 lbs. and are three peak mountain snowflake rated. It’s one of the better selections for folks who want an all-around solid tire with a focus on non-pavement driving.

The overall diameter of these tires is roughly 28.9 inches and they have a really aggressive appearance. I believe that this is the absolute largest tire size that you will want to install unless you’re comfortable permanently modifying your Outback. I was able to fit them in without removing any body cladding, no cutting, and no wheel well hammering.

The 2012 Outback was originally sent out from the factory with a P225/60R17 all season tire. The factory tire has an overall diameter of 27.6 inches. Without installing any other mods, the new tires added 1.3 inches of tire diameter and over a half inch of ground clearance.

To summarize and make this section very clear:

A 235/75R15 or any tire with a diameter less than 29 inches is the biggest tire that can be installed on a 2010-2014 Subaru Outback without serious modification. If you want to go bigger, it is possible but will require removing mudflaps, fender liners, and sideskirts. You’d also be required to hammer your pinch welds over in the front wheel wells.

Required Modifications Necessary To Keep The Tires From Rubbing

To be honest, the only thing I needed to do was hit the front fender liners with a heat gun. I warmed them up and then pushed them away from the front of the tires. This isn’t necessary but I wanted to keep the liners intact instead of letting the tires wear a hole in them. There is still some very slight rubbing at full lock in reverse occasionally. But it’s very unnoticeable and hasn’t caused a single issue.

Notice in the photo below that the liner covering the pinch weld rubbed just a bit. After a few drives it no longer touched.

2012 Subaru Outback With Method Race Wheels MR502 and Offroad Tires 3

Sizing Down To A Smaller Tire The Right Way

I know exactly what you’re thinking because I thought the same thing: “I’m gonna go on FB Marketplace and get some cheap OEM Subaru 15 inch wheels and save a ton of money!!” While this may work on some vehicles, it will not work on your Outback. The brake calipers are too big to fit under a standard OEM 15 inch wheel. If you plan to size down to a 15 inch wheel & tire combo, you’ll want to purchase a “rally style” wheel. When I say rally style, I mean a wheel that has been produced to be used in motorsports applications. They’re made to actually fit over larger brake kits like the WRX 4 pots and other braking systems. 

Some great options are the Method MR502 pictured in this article, the Black Rhino Boxer (I own a set of these and absolutely love them), the Motegi MR139, and KMC Bully. It’s a little expensive to upgrade to a new wheel set up, but it’s well worth it and will improve the overall look and feel of your car. They’re also very durable when compared to most OEM wheels. They’re made for rally racing and can take a beating. I’ve bashed mine into boulders and have seen friends bang them into obstacles at high speeds with no structural damage to the wheels.

Learn more about recommended off-road wheels in this article: Best Off-Road Wheels For Subaru Outbacks Most of the wheels in the article are available in 15 inch options.

Parts List For This Setup

Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll need in order to install a 29 inch tire on your Outback. You’ll need 15 inch rally wheels, aftermarket tuner lug nuts (12×1.25), all terrain tires, and possibly hub centric rings.

This is what I used:

  • Method MR502 VT Spec Wheels
  • Gorilla Tuner Lugs 12×1.25 (do NOT order 12×1.5 they will not fit)
  • Kumho AT51 All Terrain Tires 235/75R15
If you order a set of MR502’s you won’t need hub centric rings. But if you order a wheel that does not have a center hub bore of 56.1mm you will need to order a set that makes your wheel of choice fit snug against the Subaru hub. Failure to install these will make your wheels feel wobbly in many cases. I recommend finding aluminum rings, but the plastic ones will likely work just as well.

Please note that if you own a 6 cylinder Outback, the wheels mentioned in this article may not fit over your brake calipers. We have not had a chance to get our hands on a 6 cylinder Outback to test fit yet. Our suggestion would be to use a 16 inch wheel.

How Larger Tires Affect The Fuel Economy

Fuel economy is a huge factor for most people when they purchase a new car. Many folks choose Subarus because they’re fuel efficient and very capable cars. But how much will this tire setup drag down your mpg’s?

We actually saw negligible changes in the miles per tank. Without changing driving habits, we’ve seen a decrease of right around 1mpg. We drive it with a mixture of city and highway driving and average right around 24-26mpg even with the bigger tire. One of the biggest things you can do to preserve your fuel efficiency is to keep non-aerodynamic objects off the roof. Large cargo boxes stored in a roof basket can create insane amounts of drag and kill your mpg’s.

Additional Recommended All-Terrain Tires Available In 235/75R15

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