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Why is Wheel Offset Important for an Off-Road Vehicle?

 photo by PeopleImages via iStock

What are wheel offsets? It’s a question that has been haunting every car enthusiast for ages. The craziest thing is that wheel offset is simple to understand yet many people seem to get confused when the time to choose wheels comes around. 

The most common questions include: What is backspacing? What does offset mean on wheels? What does offset mean on rims? Do negative offset wheels stick out? What are wheel offsets? Does wheel offset matter? What offset fits my car? And many others.

In today’s article, we will give you all the information needed to decode wheel offset and hopefully answer the question of “what are wheel offsets” once and for all! 

Wheel Offsets Explained

Wheel Offsets

 photo by urfinguss via iStock

So, what are wheel offsets? To understand the differences between negative offset and what is positive wheel offset, we first need to go through what wheel offset is.  

Wheel offset is how much in towards the suspension components or out further away from the suspension components the mounting point of your wheel sits. 

For example, a positive offset wheel will push the tire in towards the suspension because the mounting point is very close to the outside part of the wheel. 

A negative offset wheel will push the tire away from suspension components because the mounting point is near the inside of the wheel. 

A zero offset setup will locate the tire at the exact center as the mounting point and is located on the center of the wheel.  

Backspacing is another common phrase you might hear. It refers to the distance between the mounting surface to the straight edge or lip of the wheel. 

Understanding Wheel Offset: Why Would You Want to Go For a Negative Offset Wheel?

Wheel Offset

 photo by sydmsix via iStock

Now that we have covered what are wheel offsets it is time to address why you would choose negative or positive offset wheels.

Negative offset wheels, as stated above, will push your wheel further out. If you install bigger tires you may run into clearance issues because your tire may come in contact with suspension parts.

By installing negative offset rims, you will push the wheel outwards and away from the suspension. 

Negative offset wheels will also give a wider wheel track which can make your vehicle slightly more stable. Keep in mind that the increased wheel track will put more strain on axles and wheel bearings; therefore, keep the offset number low.  

So, will negative offset wheels push the wheel outside the arches? Possibly yes, it depends on the size of your tires and the amount of offset. 

What is a Positive Offset Wheel?

Positive Offset Wheel

 photo by Vladimir Razguliaev via iStock

A positive offset wheel will bring the tire inside the arches. This is useful when you have installed bigger tires that the arches aren’t big enough to clear the tire. By installing a positive offset wheel, you will bring that tire back inside the arch. However, you may run into other clearance issues. 

So, the age-old question of what are wheel offsets has been answered. Wheel offset can be a great way to balance out the difference made by changing the size of your tires.

So, the next time someone asks what are wheel offsets at the pub, you will be the know-it-all who can explain the answer!

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