What is Wheel Offset? Wheel Offset Meaning Explained (2023)

When shopping online for wheels and tires it’s important that you understand what is offset and how the wheel offset affects your fitment. Having a good understanding of the offset meaning will make you a more educated consumer when shopping for wheels and tires. Below we’ll outline the offset meaning and also address some common topics surrounding wheel offsets. We’ll also provide you with some visual samples that will help you grasp the concept.

Contents

What is Wheel Offset?

In short, offset is the distance from the center line of your wheel to the mounting pad. If the mounting pad is closer to the face of the wheel from the center line the wheel is a positive offset, if the mounting pad of the wheel is at the dead center of the center line the wheel is a zero offset and if the mounting pad of the wheel is closer to the backside of the wheel from the center line the wheel is considered a negative offset wheel.

The easiest way to understand how the offset affects your fitment is, the higher the offset the closer the wheel is to your chassis and the lower the offset the further the wheel is from your chassis.

(Video) What Is Wheel Offset?

What Offset Does My Vehicle Require?

No vehicle has a set number that they require, every vehicle has a minimum and maximum offset tolerance they can use. It is very important that the wheels you choose are within that minimum and maximum offset range to prevent fitment issues.

For example…

Let’s say you have a car that requires a minimum offset of 35 and a maximum offset of 45, If you attempt to install a wheel that’s a 25 offset you run the risk of your tires rubbing on your fenders and or the wheels and tires sticking out. And if you attempt to install a wheel that’s a 50 you run the risk of the wheel obstructing with your suspension components.

Trucks are a little more flexible as they tolerate a wider minimum and maximum range, specifically lifted trucks. As an example for trucks let’s say you have a minimum offset of 0 and a maximum offset tolerance of 12.

(Video) What is Wheel Offset?

If you’re wanting for the wheels to stick outside of your fenders you’d want to look for a wheel with an offset lower than your minimum tolerance of 0. If you want the wheels to stick out the least or not stick out at all aim for options closer to your maximum tolerance of 12.

Negative Offset Possible Issues

We’re often asked if running a negative offset will come with problems. Here’s my opinion on the topic, If the offset is too negative and you’re running an oversized tire, I’d say you have a high chance of encountering problems.

Here’s why…

When your vehicle was manufactured the suspension components, hub and bearings were all made to specifically tolerate your original equipment wheel and tire weight and overall geometry. These components do offer a little tolerance for plus sizing however not when it’s an extreme.

So let’s say your truck comes with a 31 inch tire from factory and you lift the truck and jump up to a 35 inch tire. The tire is going to weigh more than your factory tires. This upgrade will cause some strain to the drivetrain which can be resolved by regearing your ring and pinion but not always is that required.

When can problems arise from a negative offset?

Let’s say you now take that already borderline fitment and use a super low offset to hang it out the fender. You’re now increasing the overall strain as your vehicles hub and wheel bearings will suffer being that the wheel and tire geometry has now changed and your factory hub and wheel bearings weren’t designed to support the additional weight.

Think of it like this, if you hold an apple in your hand and close to your body you can do so for an extended period of time with minimal strain, now imagine holding a watermelon with one hand with your arm fully extended horizontally to your side.

You can definitely plus size your wheels and tires to where they can hang outside your fenders safely with minimal strain but there is a very fine line to those limitations and we always recommend that you consult with an expert to determine what that fine line is.

How to Measure Wheel Offset

When measuring your wheel offset you’ll need to know a couple things:

  • How wide are your wheels?
  • There are 25.4 millimeters in 1 inch.

Warning: This can be slightly confusing, if you know your wheels width you’re welcome to use our wheel offset calculator for a more simplified solution.

  1. Determine the width of wheels, in most cases this is stamped on the mounting pad of your wheel or behind a spoke (if the manufacturer was nice enough to do so). If you don’t know the width or it’s not stamped on the back of the wheel you can measure the width by measuring from wheel flange to wheel flange (see picture). If your wheel has tires on them you can lay the wheel down face first (don’t forget to protect the face), lay a ruler straight across the tire and measure from the floor to the ruler you just laid across the tire (see picture). A typical wheel has total flange of one inch so a good estimation will be to take the width you measured and subtract one inch for the wheel flange.
  2. Determine your centerline, this is your wheels width divided by two being the dead center of your wheel.
  3. Measure your backspacing. With the wheel laying flat on its face measure the distance between the mounting pad of the wheel and the outer edge of the wheel barrel.

Now that you know your wheels width, backspacing and centerline we can calculate your offset.

Centerline – Backspace = Offset

To convert inches to millimeters, multiply inches by 25.4 & to convert millimeters to inches, divide mm by 25.4

In Example: Let’s say your wheels is 10 inches wide, your centerline is 5 inches. For this example let’s say your backspace is 4 inches. 5 – 4 = 1 and 1 inch in millimeters is -25.4 so this means your wheels offset is -25mm (always round). In the case where the backspace is higher than your centerline your offset is positive.

(Video) What is Wheel Offset and Backspacing? 🤔 Links to additional info in description!

Wheel Offset vs Backspacing

In the above section we learned about backspacing thru the necessity of having to measure for the offset. If you skipped that section, the backspace of a wheel is the distance from the outer edge of the wheel to the mounting pad. While the offset of the wheel is the distance from the centerline of the wheel to the mounting pad.

(Video) What is wheel offset and why is it important

History of Offset And The Transition of Term Usage

Traditionally it was common to reference only backspacing as all the vehicles manufactured at the time required low offset wheels so it was easier to reference the backspacing. In 1984 Chevrolet introduced the C4 Corvette which was possibly one of the first american vehicles to require high offset wheels.

By this point the wheel manufacturers would stamp on the mounting pad the offset and begin to use the offset term as a primary reference. The stamp would like something like this 8.5Jx17 ET35 where the offset is referenced as ET which is the German word EinpressTiefe meaning offset.

By the 1990s more vehicles were being manufactured that required high offset wheels and the term offset begun to gain traction over backspacing.

As of today backspacing and even front spacing are truly the most important variables in custom wheel manufacturing where a precision fitment is a must.

However for the cast wheel industry and a greater portion of the factory and aftermarket wheels being produced offset is going to be the measurement primarily referenced.

(Video) What Is Wheel Offset, Backspacing and How to Calculate It

FAQs

What is a wheel offset explained? ›

Wheel offset is the distance from the mounting surface to the centerline of the wheel. On the other hand, backspacing is the distance from the mounting surface to the wheel's back lip.

What does +20 offset mean? ›

The higher the number, the less lip there is on the wheel and the more forward the wheel face will be. A 20mm offset means the wheel face is more toward the outside of the vehicle than a 1mm offset.

What does 25 offset mean on wheels? ›

– Wheel offset is the distance (in mm) that the hub of the wheel, (where you bolt the wheel to the car) is from the center of the wheel. Example 1: +25 mm offset = The center of the wheel is 25 mm closer to the outside, or curbside, of the wheel.

How much difference in wheel offset is ok? ›

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.

How do I choose tire offset? ›

Measure the distance from the floor to the straight edge and divide by two. That calculates the centerline of the wheel. If the centerline number is smaller than the hub measurement, offset is positive; if it is larger, offset is negative.

Is lower offset better? ›

Reduced offsets result in larger track widths. This can improve cornering speeds by reducing lateral load transfer from the inside tires to the outside tires. By keeping the tire loads uniform, tires can generate increased lateral grip. This is why most race car tires are as far outboard as possible.

Does wheel offset affect anything? ›

Wheel offset refers to how the wheels mount in your wheel wells, and as a result, how much space you have on either side of the wheel. It's very important to get this right, because a wheel with the wrong offset can rub and cause problems with your suspension, brakes, and even body parts, like fenders.

Does higher or lower offset stick out more? ›

A simple way to understand offset, is the lower the offset, the more the wheel will stick out, likewise, the higher the offset, the more the wheel will tuck in.

What does +2 offset mean? ›

The second number indicates the distance from the mounting plate to the outer bead. For example, a 5+2 offset means there is 5” from the back/inner bead to the mounting plate, 2” from the mounting plate to the outer bead.

Does wheel offset affect steering? ›

On most OEM wheels, offset is positive (contact patch slightly inboard), and it can have a major effect on steering feel and stability during acceleration and braking.

Does wheel offset affect alignment? ›

Changing wheel size/offset will not affect the settings as they are, the wheels are aligned to the vehicle dependent upon the suspension design, which is in turn designed usually for a specific size and offset tire/rim combination and handling characteristics.

Does negative offset stick out more? ›

The more negative the offset, the more aggressive stance you will get. This means the wheels will “poke” outside of the fenders. “Poke” or “Stance” is when the wheel and tire stick outside of your fender. A negative offset is what can create a larger lip or concave style which will push the tire out.

What does +30 offset mean on wheels? ›

A stock wheel, no matter what OEM manufacturer, is going to run a +high offset, typically in the +30mm to +40mm range. This allows the wheel to “suck-in” under the vehicle more, keeping your center of gravity under the cockpit and reducing overall machine width.

How do I measure my offset? ›

Once you've found the centerline, simply take a tape measure and measure between the center and the mounting surface (where the bolts are). Anything over or under this line is called a negative offset or a positive offset. Both of these mean different things and have a different impact on your car and how it drives.

What does 45 offset mean? ›

For example, an ET45 wheel measurement has a positive offset of 45mm, which means that the mounting face is 45mm in front of the centre line. Conversely, a wheel with ET-12 will have a negative offset where the mounting face is 12mm behind the centre line of the wheel.

What does 0 offset mean? ›

Zero Offset wheels have their mounting face even with the center line of the wheel and are by definition “ET 0″. Negative Offset wheels have their mounting face toward the rear of the wheel – powerful rear-wheel drive cars often have wheels with negative offset.

What does a higher offset do? ›

For instance, if you are installing new and larger wheels and tyres to your vehicle; a higher offset means that the outside edge will be higher for your vehicle giving more clearance, but the space between the suspension and tyres will be decreased. It can cause problems if this space is not measured correctly.

Are offset wheels hard on wheel bearings? ›

(The offset moves the loading from the inner bearing to the outer bearing.) It increases the torsional load on the bearing as well. Thus, a large change in offset can cause a bearing failure. This is true for both front- and rear-wheel applications.

How many inches out is offset? ›

The offset is 2 inches, or about 50 millimeters. If the number is higher than half of the width, this is a positive offset. If it's lower than half the width, it's a negative offset. For example, if your backspacing is 6 inches and the centerline was at 4 inches, that's a positive offset.

Do I need positive or negative offset? ›

Easier to Fit Wider Tires

If you want to fit wider tires without having them stick out, positive offset rims will allow you to do just that. 4×4 owners will often choose positive offset wheels to avoid clearance issues.

Does offset change with rim size? ›

If you're using the same width as stock, all you need to pay attention to is the offset of the new wheel. If you are changing the width of the wheel, the offset equation changes completely and you need to reevaluate the offset.

Why is 0.2% offset used? ›

The 0.2% strain offset approach is mostly used to calculate the yield stress and serves as an efficient method for cross-lab comparisons of measured material properties. However, it is difficult to accurately determine the yield of the bone.

Is balancing and alignment the same thing? ›

While both services contribute to a smoother ride, tire balancing and wheel alignment are not the same services. A tire balance corrects the weight imbalance on your tire and wheel assemblies, while an alignment corrects the angles of the tires so they always come in contact with the road in the right way.

How do I know if I need an alignment or balance? ›

Signs that it would be prudent to get your wheels aligned include: Extreme tire wear. Car routinely pulling off to one side. Squealing sound coming from tires.

What happens when your tires aren't balanced? ›

The common symptoms of an out-of-balance wheel-tire assembly are uneven and faster tread wear, poor fuel economy, or vibration in the steering wheel and/or floorboard that gets worse at faster speeds. When all areas of the wheel-tire assembly are as equal in weight as possible, the tire will roll smoothly.

Should I get new tires or an alignment first? ›

For the most part, doesn't matter whether you get your alignment before or after having your new tires put on. Most experts agree that the only effect worn tires have on your alignment is a change to the vehicle's ride height which, given today's steering and suspension design, should be negligible.

Does changing tire size affect transmission? ›

Smaller tires can also affect the performance of your vehicle's transmission. The transmission needs a specific circumference. Changing the circumference will change the needed gear ratios inside your transmission or differential. For those who love off-roading, installing larger tires may be worth it.

Do I need an alignment after replacing tires? ›

We recommend an alignment after the installation of new tires. This helps you get the most life from your new tires. Wheel alignment checks are always advised after a significant impact or uneven tire wear is detected.

How much can I change my wheel offset? ›

If the new wheels are the same width, the new offset should ideally be within 5mm of the old offset in either direction. If offset must be substantially different, avoid using more positive offset at all costs. If the new wheels are wider, backspacing must be calculated.

Is positive or negative offset better? ›

Easier to Fit Wider Tires

If you want to fit wider tires without having them stick out, positive offset rims will allow you to do just that. 4×4 owners will often choose positive offset wheels to avoid clearance issues.

Does higher offset stick out more? ›

A simple way to understand offset, is the lower the offset, the more the wheel will stick out, likewise, the higher the offset, the more the wheel will tuck in.

What is 45 offset on wheels? ›

For example, an ET45 wheel measurement has a positive offset of 45mm, which means that the mounting face is 45mm in front of the centre line. Conversely, a wheel with ET-12 will have a negative offset where the mounting face is 12mm behind the centre line of the wheel.

How do you know if offset will fit? ›

Put simply, to find if your wheels will fit your car, measure the distance from your wheel's center point to where it is mounted. This is the offset. Add that to half your wheel's width to find the back space and subtract it to find the front space. Compare this to your wheel well to see if it fits.

Does offset affect steering? ›

Regardless though, offset does do more than just fill or not fill the fenders-it affects handling, steering, traction, even the service life of otherwise unbreakable suspension components like knuckle assemblies.

Videos

1. Wheel Offset Explained
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2. How to chose offset and backspacing for your wheels
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3. Understanding Wheel Offset, Backspacing and Width - Easy Guide | Truck Accessories Explained
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4. Wheel Rim Offset Explained
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5. What Is Wheel Offset? | Wheel Offset Explained
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6. Wheel Offset EXPLAINED - Easy to understand!
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