When researching and shopping for new wheels, one of the most common factors discussed is wheel offset. Having the correct wheel offset will make or break your wheel and tire fitment.
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. If you’re willing to make further modifications to accommodate those parts, you have more flexibility. However for most drivers, it’s best to get wheels with an offset that matches your existing setup.
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There are three types of offset – zero offset, positive offset, and negative offset.
Backspacing: Backspacing refers to how much space there is between the back side of the wheel and the mounting surface of the wheel.
Zero Offset: In a wheel with zero offset, the mounting surface of the wheel is on the centerline. The centerline is the centermost point of your wheel, if you were cutting it in half vertically.
Positive Offset: In a wheel with positive offset, the mounting surface of the wheel is to the outside of the wheel (on the street side). This is the most common scenario for newer, OEM setups. This offers maximum backspacing.
Negative Offset: In a wheel with negative offset, the mounting surface of the wheel is tucked back closer to the inside edge of the wheel, offering less backspacing, and a more “dished” wheel, popular in show cars and trucks.
If you aren’t comfortable with spec’ing out the sizing or offset for your own wheels, we highly recommend you consult a professional. You don’t want to risk not having enough clearance for your car, or to lose any drivability or safety when you’re on the road.
If you have a positive offset, and you switch out to winter tires, you’ll want to make sure those winter tires are mounted on a wheel with a similar offset.
If you transition to a wheel with less offset, either positive or negative, can mean your wheels are sticking out past your fenders or wheel wells. This will spray salt, chemicals and sand at your own car and the other cars around you. In some places, that kind of offset is actually illegal, so make sure you know and understand the risks involved.
When it comes to choosing the right wheel and tire combo for your car or truck, we know the options can be overwhelming. If you’re looking for some expert advice, we’re always here to help. Feel free to call our team at (866) 961-8668, and we’ll get you on the road with your new wheels in no time.