Wheel Size Explained

The wheels that came installed on your vehicle are designed to perfectly fit your vehicle’s suspension, gearing, and bodywork which can affect ride quality and vehicle performance. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have different wheels or rims installed on your car or truck. To understand what wheels will work for your vehicle, we’ll take a look at rim sizes and some basic measurements.

Why Change Your Wheels

There are many reasons you might want to switch out your rims. Maybe you want an extra set of wheels and tires for easy installation every winter, or you’re looking for added performance and handling. You might even be going for a specific look, including sleek and stylish or rugged and cool. Whatever your reason, it’s important to note that getting the wrong wheel setup could cause a vibration, or some rubbing on suspension components or vehicle body parts.

Les Schwab Tip: Before you change the tire sidewall height, tread width, or rim size on your vehicle, talk to the experts first. We’ll help translate the difference in RPM, tire speed, load index, and speed rating and how it will or will not fit with your vehicle’s suspension, gearing, and bodywork.

How to Read Your Tire and Find Your Rim Size

First, start with the wheel size for your vehicle. You can find that on the sidewall of the tires on your original wheels or the inside frame of the driver’s door. Check out Tire Size Explained (Reading the Sidewall) for more.

Tire and Rim Explanation Chart

The wheel diameter (in inches or millimeters) is the fifth set of numbers and letters. What do rim size numbers mean? This number represents the distance between the two bead seat areas where the tire is sealed onto the wheel.

Wheel Diameter

Wheel Width

The wheel size also includes its width and offset. The width is the distance from each bead seat (from inside to the outside). The offset determines how the wheel and tire set aligns with the wheel well.

Offset and Backspace Explained

The offset is how far inward or outward the mounting surface is in reference to the center-line of the wheel. The center-line is calculated by simply dividing the wheel into two equal halves. Les Schwab has the tools to accurately measure your center-line.

The offset is how far inward or outward the mounting surface is in reference to the center-line of the wheel.

Here's how offset determines the look of your rims. If the hub mounting surface is in front of the center-line, your rims and tire will be pulled inward. This is called positive offset.

Positive Wheel Offset

If they are behind the centerline, your rims and tire will stick out from the body of the vehicle. This is negative offset.

Negative Wheel Offset

Les Schwab Tip: Measuring the offset on your vehicle is difficult without removing the tire and wheel. Consult the pros to get the right fit.

Fitment is Fundamental

To ensure a set of rims fit properly on your vehicle, you’ll need the hub size on your car or truck as well as the wheel center bore measurement and number of wheel studs (as well as the distance between those studs). Les Schwab has those measurements for your vehicle, including bolt patterns.

Understanding Bolt Patterns On Your Wheels

Most vehicles come with a 4-, 5-, 6-, or 8-lug pattern. These bolt patterns, which are specifically spaced, help narrow your wheel or rim choices. While counting the number of bolts on your vehicle is important before buying a set of rims, it’s vital the wheels you choose match the spacing between the wheel studs on your vehicle.

To measure a 4-lug pattern on a set of rims, measure from the center of two holes across from each other. For a 5-lug pattern, measure from the outside of one wheel stud hole and the center of the opposite. And for 6- and 8-lug patterns, measure from the center of one hole to the center of the opposite wheel stud hole. You’ll either need this measurement in inches or millimeters, depending on the wheel manufacturer.

Bolt Pattern Measurements

Remember, there’s no need to take these measurements on your own. The pros at Les Schwab do it every day and can ensure you get the right rims for your vehicle.

Les Schwab Carries Custom Wheels

At Les Schwab, we take pride in our custom wheel expertise. Stop by and ask about new wheels for your vehicle. We’ll show you all of your options, whether you’re going for a new look, a boost in performance, a new set of wheels for your winter tires, or simply as a replacement of your current set.

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