What Is Wheel Offset?
February 5, 2021
Buying wheels for your new vehicle can sometimes be daunting because of the different measurements involved, so let's simplify the process.
We'll through all the basics of wheel offset including how to measure your wheels offset and why it's important to know before buying new wheels. We'll also touch on a few other important measurements.
Centerline: The true center of a wheel from a side view
Wheel Hub: The mounting surface of a wheel
Hub Bore: The diameter, measured in millimeters, of the centerpiece of your wheel, not the plastic cap
Bolt Pattern: Depending on how many lugs your vehicle has, it's the measurement between the middle of two lugs directly across from each other
What does offset mean?
The quick definition of wheel offset is the distance in millimeters from the hub, or the mounting surface of a wheel, to the centerline of the wheel. But first, before we dive deeper into offset, it's important to know what your vehicle's setup is.
This includes what your bolt pattern is, what your wheel width and diameter are, and what your hub bore is. These measurements are important to know before shopping for wheels and tires so you have the perfect fitment.
There are three types of offset: zero offsets, positive offset, and negative offset.
- Zero Offset: Where the hub is directly in the middle of your wheel (centerline) | Flush | Example: 0
- Positive Offset: When the face of the wheel is tucked into your vehicle | Tucked | Example: +35
- Negative Offset: When your wheel is pushed further away from your vehicle | Poke | Example: -40
Offset affects how your wheels will look on your vehicle and how they'll perform. If you want your wheels to be flush with your vehicle for a classic wheel fitment, you will want to go with a zero offset.
If you'd rather have your wheels "poke" further outside your vehicle, you'll want a negative offset -35 for example.
The general rule of thumb is the bigger the negative offset, the more your wheels will be pushed outside the fender. A big negative offset will affect your vehicle's handling and general performance, but it has an aggressive look which many people want.
If you want your wheels to be tucked in your wheel well, you want a positive offset +10 for example.
Your wheels will sink into your wheel well opening. This wheel fitment option is not as popular because depending on how big your positive offset is, you may run into clearance issues and suspension rubbing.
How to measure wheel offset
Now that you know what offset is, how do you measure it? The simplest way to measure your offset is to not measure it at all and look on the back of your wheel's spokes.
The back of your wheels will have some numbers that look something like this for example "22x12 -51mm". The first number listed, the 22, is the wheel's diameter; in this case, the wheel is 22-inches. The second number, the 12, is the width of your wheel. The last number, the -51, is the offset; this wheel has a -51 negative offset which means the wheels are pushed further outside the fender.
What does back-spacing mean?
Backspacing is similar to offset, but the difference is that back-spacing measures the distance from the back of the wheel hub, or the mounting surface, to the back edge of a wheel.
Measuring the back-spacing of your wheel is very easy. First, take a straight edge and place it across your wheel. Then, with a tape measure, place it on the back of your wheel hub. Where the straight edge and your tape measure meet is what your back-spacing is.
Offset usually replaces back-spacing for wheel fitment, but it's still important to be aware of what it is and how to measure it.
What offset should I choose?
Choosing what offset to go with when buying new wheels is really dependent on what look you're going for and what your vehicle can actually fit.
It's important to be aware of all the parts that could rub if you go with a tucked setup as well as a poke setup.
You also want to consider what tires and suspension you will run. If you want to run bigger tires, you want to make sure that you have the right wheel diameter and width so you can fit the wheel and tire on your vehicle.
The same things apply to suspension; make sure to measure the distance from the ground to the top of your fender so you can ensure the perfect fitment.
Was this guide to wheel offset helpful? Let us know in the comments! If you have any additional questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section as well.