What is Wheel Offset?

Customizing your ride with aftermarket wheels and tires is a fun way to make your car or truck your own. If you’re shopping around, it helps to have a basic understanding of wheel offset.

Proper offset assures your new package has enough clearance so nothing rubs against the suspension, brakes or vehicle body (like fenders, bumpers and mud flaps).

It’s also important for driving safety, since the wrong offset can reduce vehicle stability or interfere with braking.

Wheel Offset and Backspacing Explained

Offset refers to how your car’s or truck’s wheels and tires are mounted and sit in the wheel wells.

  • Zero wheel offset is when the hub mounting surface is in line with the centerline of the wheel.
  • Positive wheel offset is when the hub mounting surface is in front (more toward the street side) of the centerline of the wheel. Most wheels on front-wheel drive cars and newer rear-drive vehicles have positive offset.
  • Negative offset is when the hub mounting surface is behind the wheel centerline. “Deep dish” wheels are typically a negative offset.

Wheel offset explained, with positive offset, zero offset and negative offset

Backspacing is the distance your wheels and tires need to accommodate both offset and wheel width. It’s especially important to factor in when the new package you want is wider than what came on your vehicle.

Getting offset and backspacing measurements right means you’ll get a wheel and tire package that offers the looks, handling and performance you’re after.

Getting them wrong can mean big problems.

Common Problems From Too Much Positive Offset

  • Expensive damage from the inner edge of the wheel and tire rubbing against the bodywork or suspension
  • Interference with brake parts
  • Risk of tire failure
  • Poor handling
  • Making your car unstable

Problems From Too Much Negative Offset

  • Increased steering wheel kick-back
  • Additional stress on the entire suspension
  • Poor handling

Proper offset on a VW
Proper wheel offset example: +43mm offset, wheel size 19" x 8.5", 225/35R19 Toyo Proxes 4 Plus tires

Remember This About Wheel Offset

  1. New wheels and tires can make your everyday ride look and handle a whole lot better.

New wheels can give a vehicle a sportier look

  1. Offset measurements can be tricky. Even if the tire and wheel have enough clearance, the wrong offset can decrease vehicle stability. Generally, with new wheels, you don’t want the new offset to be more than 5 millimeters different from the old offset.

  2. Especially when your new wheels are wider than the originals, backspacing has to be factored in along with offset.

  3. To make sure your tire and wheel package fit right, stay within load capacity and give you the handling and stability you need, ask a tire professional for advice.

Want to see some options that will fit your vehicle? Browse wheels suited for your make and model.

Important Notice: The information provided above is of a general nature gathered from a variety of resources deemed reasonably reliable. The operation of your vehicle, or the repair or replacement of your vehicle’s equipment, may be different than for a typical vehicle. Please consult your owner's manual for specific warnings, notices, and other advice relative to the subjects addressed herein.

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