What is Wheel Offset-The Complete Guide

Wheel offset is a very important vehicle installation parameter of the wheel. It determines whether the wheel will rub against vehicle components such as wheel arches, shock absorbers, and calipers. For ordinary modification users, wheel offset is a relatively difficult parameter to determine among wheel installation parameters. This article will specifically introduce the meaning of wheel offset, measurement methods, influencing factors and its significance for vehicle installation.


What Is Wheel Offset


The offset of a wheel refers to the distance from the mounting surface (fixed surface) of the wheel to the centerline of the wheel hub. It is classified into positive offset, negative offset, zero offset, and so on. Negative offset means that the mounting surface is located further inside (closer to the brake system) compared to the centerline of the wheel hub. Famous brand models often have a negative offset, which is common in SUV models and some BMW vehicles. Zero offset means that the two surfaces coincide. Positive offset means that the mounting surface is located further outside. Wheels with a positive offset are commonly found in front-wheel-drive and some rear-wheel-drive models.

what is wheel offset

Factors Affecting Wheel Offset


There are many factors that affect wheel offset. For example, the type of vehicle—whether it’s a sedan, SUV, or truck—may require wheels with specific offsets to accommodate their suspension and braking components. Additionally, the vehicle’s braking system, including the size and position of components like calipers and brake discs, may necessitate specific wheel offsets to ensure proper clearance. Furthermore, the size of the wheels can also impact offset, with larger wheels potentially requiring different offsets to ensure proper fitment within the wheel wells and avoid interference with surrounding components. Lastly, since wheel offset can affect the vehicle’s handling characteristics, such as steering response and stability, adjustments may be made based on driver preferences or performance requirements.

Factors Affecting Wheel Offset


The Effect Of Offset On The Vehicle


The offset value determines the lateral position of the wheel on the axle and the wheel track between two coaxial wheels, thereby determining whether the wheel sits inwardly or outwardly relative to the vehicle body. A larger wheel offset (ET value) results in the wheel sitting more inwardly, reducing the wheel track between two coaxial wheels. Conversely, a smaller wheel offset leads to the wheel protruding more outwardly, increasing the wheel track between two coaxial wheels.

An improper wheel offset can have implications for vehicle installation. If the wheel offset (ET value) is too large, the wheel may interfere with the suspension. Conversely, if the wheel offset is too small, the wheel protrusion from the vehicle body may interfere with the fender.

The Effect Of Offset On The Vehicle


Adjustment Of Wheel Offset


Adjusting wheel offset typically requires specific tools and equipment, and the exact method depends on the type of vehicle and the manufacturer’s recommendations.

The most direct and effective method is to replace the wheels. Swapping out wheels with different offset values is one way to adjust wheel offset. Choose wheels with the appropriate offset to meet your needs and requirements.

Alternatively, wheel spacers can be used. Wheel spacers are shim-like devices installed between the wheel and the hub, allowing for adjustment of the wheel offset. These spacers are typically available in various thicknesses and sizes, enabling fine-tuning of the wheel’s position.

Another option is to adjust the vehicle’s suspension components, such as control arms or suspension springs. By adjusting the position or angle of these components, the position and offset of the wheels can be affected.

Adjustment Of Wheel Offset



In conclusion, the wheel offset of a car is a crucial factor that determines the vehicle’s performance, handling, and appearance. Therefore, when replacing wheels or making any adjustments related to wheels, it’s essential to ensure that the appropriate offset is selected and to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and specifications.


More resource

The importance of knowing wheel centerbore – Source: WHEELSHOME

Measuring and choosing appropriate PCD – Source: WHEELSHOME


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