I just bought a new (to me) '97 2wd extended cab stepside with a 2.3 and a 5spd. The previous owner had a vision for the truck that I do not share. It came to me with 16" rims on it, but still sporting the factory 3.73 rear end. The speedometer is off by 20%,which isn't a big deal, but that also means the rev range for the engine is way out of sync with the actual speed. And the engine doesn't have the power to maintain speed in 5th gear at all. I had to drive it 70mph in 4th gear the whole 250 miles home.
So, I'm trying to decide how best to address this. I did find a set of factory 14" wheels on Craiglist for cheap, but they'll require new tires. Plus, I kind of like how the 16" look, I feel like they 'fit' the truck, and am vaguely worried the 14"s will look out of place, so I'm considering changing the gearing in the diff instead if that would work? But, I'd like some second opinions, and some insight into what the consequences would be. I would think worse fuel economy with those honking big wheels? I'm comfortable with mechanic work, but I've never fussed around with wheel sizes before. Stock has always been good enough for me.
Oh! Supplementary quesiton, will the factory 14" wheels fit on an Explorer rear axle conversion? I'm considering swapping for 4 wheel disc and an LSD. If the 14s won't clear, then that's a strong nudge to keeping the 16s.