Wheel Offset vs. Wheel Backspacing: What's The Difference And Which One Do You Use?

Wheels play a major component in your ride. Not only are they the item that allows the car to roll down the road, but they also set the tone and style of the vehicle as well. Choosing the right wheels is crucial to achieving the style of car you want to build. 

Understanding Wheel Offset


Wheel offset refers to the distance between the wheel’s mounting surface and the wheel’s centerline, measured in millimeters. This measurement determines where the wheel sits within the wheel well concerning the vehicle’s hub and suspension components. Wheel offset can be positive, negative, or zero.

  1. Positive Offset: The mounting surface is toward the front of the wheel. This brings the wheel and tire assembly closer to the vehicle’s suspension and body.

  2. Negative Offset: The mounting surface is toward the back of the wheel. This pushes the wheel and tire assembly outward, away from the vehicle’s suspension.

  3. Zero Offset: The mounting surface aligns with the wheel’s centerline, distributing the wheel and tire assembly evenly within the wheel well.

Understanding Wheel Backspacing

Wheel backspacing is the distance from the inboard edge of the wheel to the wheel’s mounting surface. Unlike offset, backspacing is measured in inches. It essentially defines how much space exists between the back of the wheel and the suspension components.

Comparing Wheel Offset and Backspacing

While both wheel offset and backspacing influence the placement of the wheel within the wheel well, they offer distinct perspectives on fitment and aesthetics.

  1. Fitment Considerations:

    • Wheel Offset: A higher positive offset often results in a tucked-in appearance, suitable for vehicles with narrow wheel wells. Negative offset, conversely, creates a wider stance, enhancing stability or to stuff wide tires out back.
    • Backspacing: Lower backspacing pushes the wheel outward, impacting the vehicle’s track width. Greater backspacing brings the wheel closer to the suspension components.
  2. Aesthetics:

    • Wheel Offset: Positive offset provides a more conservative look, while negative offset contributes to an aggressive, wide-stance appearance.
    • Backspacing: More backspacing tends to fill the wheel well, offering a cleaner, tucked-in look, while less backspacing exposes more of the wheel and tire.
  3. Handling and Performance:

    • Wheel Offset: Negative offset may enhance stability and handling, especially in performance-oriented applications.
    • Backspacing: Adjusting backspacing can influence how weight is distributed on the wheels, impacting traction and handling.

Wheel offset and backspacing are integral factors in choosing the right wheel. Just as important though are knowing what suspension and brakes you’re going to be using. Before you ever order wheels and tires,  you should talk with the brake and suspension manufacturers to see if they are moving things around which may cause your new wheels to not fit. If you have any questions or need help, call our friendly techs at (203) 235-1200 or hop on SS396.com

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