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Can You Run Staggered On AWD?

Fitment Industries Author | | July 31st, 2018 |

  • - Hey how's it going, my name's Alex, from Fitment Industries. And today we're going to be talking about something a little bit different. We're going to be talking about all-wheel drive systems, and if you can run staggered setups on all-wheel drive. Now, the question itself seems pretty simple, but when you get into it, all-wheel drive systems can be a little bit finicky. You've heard of people having issues with their all-wheel drive systems causing all sorts of mishaps when they have different tread patterns, they have different widths. Even something as having different wheels in certain all-wheel drive systems can have adverse results. So we're going to talk about it a little bit because we've had questions in the comments regarding you know, can you-- and not just can you, but should you? And usually with a staggered setup, you will see it mostly on rear-wheel drive vehicles. But having a staggered setup on all-wheel drive cars has become somewhat of a thing, especially with the higher-end cars, like Lamborghinis and things like that. You have all different types of staggered setups, you can have staggered setup just based on offset, things like that do exist. A lot of Mercedes-Benz AMG vehicles feature different types of offsets which result in a staggered setup. You have different types of staggered setups with widths and things like that.

    But really those aren't really what we're talking about when we talk about staggered setups. We're talking about a staggered setup, we're talking about a true difference in the rolling diameter of your front and rear wheels. Now we don't want to get into the specifics of just what you have to look for when you're doing that, but for the most part, all you have to assume is that your front tires are going to be smaller than your big tires in the back. So when we look that just a little bit more, something that you have to take into consideration is that you can kiss your butt goodbye when it comes down to rotating your wheels. Which I don't really hear a lot of people doing that anymore because they're all going to directional-style tires. But just know that if you're going in a staggered setup, and you're getting something that's a true directional wheel and a true directional tire, that's only supposed to be on one corner of the four wheels, just expect that once that thing burns out you're just going to have to buy a brand new tire.


    You're supposed to take your shirt off. That's what he did. There we go, yeah. So we're going to take my own car for example. The front wheels are smaller than the rear wheels. And the Porsche 9N6 Turbo is an all-wheel drive system. Here's what happens, is because your wheel is smaller in the front than it is in the back, your all-wheel drive system looks for what's called, "Slippage." And there's a lot of other, fancier terms that you can use, but ideally, it's when your tires are slipping. The whole point of an all-wheel drive system is to make sure that they have power on all four wheels. And when it recognizes a slip, it kills the power to that specific area. Depending on how advanced your all-wheel drive system is, it can cut to one wheel, it can cut to all four wheels, it can do all sorts of fancy stuff. But here's the thing, when your rolling diameter is different from the front to the rear, you just overall have a smaller overall rolling diameter of your wheel in the front. And because it's rotating faster than the larger wheel in the rear, sometimes your all-wheel drive system can think that the front wheels are slipping. So what ends up happening? Well only your all-wheel drive system tries to tell your computer that something's happening and something is wrong, and then the slipping happens in the front. And then sometimes it kills power, sometimes it can cause issues. But most notably, you just have an overall terrible tread wear, and you have all sort of issues in the front. And sometimes even your differential can have issues, it's just-- it's a mess. But there is a way to kind of think about that, and how you want to deal with the staggered setup on all-wheel drive. And to answer your question on if you can run all-wheel drive on a staggered setup, yes you can, but there are a couple things that you're going to want to think about before you go ahead and do that. So the rule of thumb is, 1% variance between the front and rear overall diameter of your wheel, including the tire. So the good news is that we have a calculator on our website that can actually determine what the difference is in diameter, if you head over to our website. Which you don't have to, you can just keep watching the video, it's completely fine. That allows you to see the overall difference in variance between the two wheels. One of the things that you need to take into consideration, like the fact that maybe your vehicle from factory came with a staggered setup. A perfect example would be, again, the car that we have in the showroom. From factory, it has a .5% variance just right out of the gate. So if we really want to kind of extend out and kind of get a little bit more aggressive with the staggered setup, you can, as long as the vehicle that your modifying has that variance somewhat built in. Another iconic vehicle that has a variance built into it are Lamborghinis.

    They have an all-wheel drive system that already has a variance put into it straight from stock. So if you're looking to run a more aggressive setup on your all-wheel drive vehicle, can you do it? Yes, and you can go above that 1% variance if you want to. As long as there's some sort of factory-manufactured variance right from the get-go. Otherwise, we'd recommend staying underneath that 1%. Now you can't hold us liable if you decide to go with 5 or 6% off the variance, and then all of a sudden something happens to your diff and you come back and yell at us for having some sort of say in it. You pretty much have to use your own discretion. Because if you want to be safe we usually recommend within 1%. Now if your car comes with a staggered setup right out of the gate you can include that into whatever your new staggered setup will be. For myself, I went with a 1.01% variance, instead of the typical .5% variance, on the stock wheels for my car. Our own Lamborghini had about a 1.5 to 3% variance on both of the cars that we had, because that system could potentially take it. Because it came just straight out of the gate, and we were willing to take the risk at the time. Usually what our recommendation is, if you're going out to buy a staggered setup, and this is your first time, and you're researching, and you came across this video, just don't go out there and just blindly pick what you want to run, especially if it's on an all-wheel drive car. We recommend that you actually shoot us an email if you need some help, you can do that at wheels@fitmentindustries.com, or you can just drop a comment too. But you're going to want to take into consideration, especially when you're going to buy all-wheel drive staggered setups, that you keep it within the variance. And if you're doing it in a rear-wheel drive setup, we'd actually recommend that you email us all the same, because the fitment can be all sorts of messy depending on what you own. If you guys are looking to get more information on what your variance is, again we recommend that you check out the calculator at fitmentindustries.com, otherwise, don't forget to subscribe. Let us know it the comments what you'd like to see us talk about next, but I'm Alex, for Fitment Industries, and we'll see you later. Peace.