Today, we will be talking about running staggered on AWD systems. A staggered setup involves your front and back tires being a different size. You see this in drag builds all the time where the front tires are skinny and the rear are wide. Usually, this is done with RWD cars but a lot of people have been asking if this is alright to do with AWD cars. The short answer is yes; the long answer is yes with a but. There are various complications surrounding doing this.
The complications with AWD and a Staggered Setup
A lot of people will say that AWD vehicles should always have the same tire size in the front and the rear. This is definitely the safest option, but who said cars were safe? The reason why a staggered setup on AWD is such a complicated matter is because of the very nature of the drivetrain. AWD systems typically cut power where it detects slippage to prevent spinning out into oncoming traffic.
- When your front tires are smaller than the rear they move faster and have less overall area. As a result, the AWD system will think your front tires are slipping and thus they will cut power.
- Other problems such as increased tread wear are also possible.
- Then, you have various little things that can end up throwing your car out of whack such as different tread patterns, different widths, and different wheels.
Overall it’s a bit of a tricky matter to run staggered on an AWD vehicle but with knowledge, you can do it!
What to know before diving in with a Staggered Setup on AWD
First thing's first, you are not going to be able to rotate your wheels. A staggered setup means a one-directional wheel and tire, otherwise, you are in for one heck of a bad time when it comes time to get behind the wheel. With that out of the way, we can get into how to achieve a successful AWD setup.
The key rule to follow is to have a 1% variance between the overall front and rear diameter of your wheel (including the tire) if your vehicle does not have this variance built-in from stock.
The truth is that there are some AWD cars that do come staggered from the factory and if you happen to have one of these it’s going to make applying more extreme setups that go above that 1% much more manageable as opposed to a vehicle that has no variance.
Word of caution
We are not advocating that everyone should run out and slap a 6% variant staggered setup on their car just because it rolled out of the factory with a 0.5%. With AWD, most of the time it is best to either have little or no variance which is why you don’t see stock AWD vehicles coming out looking like drag cars.
If you are looking into adding or increasing the variance between your wheels it is always good to ask questions. There also is a calculator tool on the Fitment Industries website to help you with determining the differences in diameter between your front and back wheels.