Not Just About Looks: 4 Sizing Factors To Consider When Purchasing New Car Wheels

You use your vehicle every day to commute to work, take your children to school, or run various errands around town. For this reason, you want to improve the aesthetics of your vehicle with a new set of wheels from an auto wheels retail specialist. However, appearance shouldn't be the only factor you consider when selecting new wheels. Consider these four factors to ensure your new wheels fit your vehicle correctly and are ideal for your needs:

Backspace and Offset

Backspace is the distance between a wheel's hub plate and interior lip. This is a crucial specification for replacement wheels due to the wide variations in wheel hubs between makes and models of vehicles. If you purchase wheels with a backspace that's too long for your vehicle's wheel assembly, then the inner lip of the wheel is likely to affect the positioning of your brake caliper or prevent the wheel from fitting onto your axle hub.

Offset is the distance from the middle of the wheel to the hub plate. Your vehicle won't require a specific amount of offset. However, a wheel's offset distance, in combination with the total width of the wheel, will determine whether or not the wheel will fit properly onto your axle hub.

Unless you purchased your vehicle's service manual, you'll have to measure the backspace and offset of your vehicle's stock wheels to find compatible replacement wheels. To do so, use a floor jack to lift your vehicle and place jack stands beneath your vehicle's safe lifting points. Remove one of your wheels with a breaker bar and socket. Align a tape measure with the interior lip of your wheel and pull the tape until it makes contact with the hub plate of your wheel to determine your backspace.

To determine your offset, measure the entire width of your wheel in millimeters, divide the width by two, and subtract your backspace measurement (in millimeters) from the total. For example, if your wheel width is is 254 millimeters (10 inches), and your backspace measurement is 101.6 millimeters (four inches), then your offset measurement is 55.4 millimeters.

Bolt Patterns and Hub Spacing

Unless you replace your vehicle's stock hub assemblies while replacing your wheels, you'll have to match your existing bolt patterns and hub spacing to your set of replacement wheels. These are without a doubt the most important factors to consider when it comes to safety.

The number and positioning of the bolts in your hub assembly must match the number and location of the bolt holes in your replacement wheels. Otherwise, the replacement wheels simply won't fit on your hub assemblies without modification.

If there is any spacing between your vehicle's hub nut and your wheel's hub plate, then your lug nuts will be responsible for maintaining the integrity of your wheel assemblies during an accident. If your lug nuts aren't capable of maintaining the integrity of your wheels, then they can shear off and allow your wheels and tires to separate from your hub assembly.

Although it's not an ideal solution, you can install hub spacers (also known as hub centric rings) around your hub nut to accommodate the hub spacing on your replacement wheels. Hub spacers will strengthen the integrity of a mismatched wheel, but they will not provide as much structural support as a wheel that matches the stock spacing of your hub assembly.

In addition to aesthetics, keep backspace, offset, bolt pattern, and hub spacing in mind while shopping for new wheels. By doing so, you can make your search for replacement wheels as simple as possible. Additionally, always leave the installation of your new wheels to a professional mechanic to avoid accidental damage or improper installation.