Muscle Cars

A Complete Guide to Wheel Offset of a Muscle Car

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Wheels and tires of a muscle car have utmost importance when it comes to smooth driving. No matter how pretty the rest of your ride is, if you don’t have the wheels and tires down to perfection you won’t be satisfied. Just as the wheels and tires for a muscle car must never be compromised, another important aspect, namely WHEEL OFFSET, must also be taken into deep consideration.

What is wheel offset of a muscle car?

This term refers to the measurement in millimeters from the center line of the wheel to the hub-mounting surface. Actually, there are two imaginary vertical planes: one lined with the wheel’s vertical center and the other flushed with the wheel’s mounting surface. The distance between these two planes is called wheel offset. It has nothing to do with the horizontal center, called the center cap, of your muscle car.

What is the importance of wheel offset of your muscle car?

It is always essential to buy a wheel with the correct offset for your muscle car. If you have a bad wheel offset, the suspension, the steering and the handling of your beautiful muscle car will be badly affected. Besides, wheel width also affects the offset parameters and can degrade the function of brake calipers and steering components.

There are three possibilities when it comes to wheel offset:

  • Zero Offset

Here the hub-mounting surface is even with the wheel’s center line and there is no distance between the two imaginary planes.

  • Positive Offset  

Here the hub-mounting line is toward the outside of the center line. The hub mounting surface on your muscle car’s wheel is towards the front or face of the wheel. It means that the imaginary plane through the wheel’s vertical center is behind the surface mounting plane. Front wheel drive muscle cars generally have positive offset wheels. Nowadays, new rear wheel drive muscle cars are also coming fitted with positive offset wheels. This is the standard for most original rims.

  • Negative Offset  

Here the hub-mounting surface is toward the inside or the back or the brake side of the wheel’s center line. This clearly means the imaginary plane through the wheel’s vertical center is in front of the mounting surface plane.

To achieve a universal fit, most aftermarket rims run a negative offset since this does not degrade brake calipers or steering mechanisms. Negative offset does have some negative repercussions. It increases the stress on wheel bearings. Also, the load on bearings is intensified with aggressive tires and added lift.


How to measure the wheel offset of your muscle car?

 This involves a two-step mechanism. First, you will have to find your wheel’s center line. This can be done very easily if there is no tire on the rim, which is not possible normally. So, you will measure the width of your wheel either by measuring from the inner tire bead to the opposite inner tire bead or by measuring from one outer flange to the other. Divide the measurement by two and you get your wheel’s center line.

The second step to determine your muscle car wheel offset needs marking the center line of your wheel and drawing a line to measure from. This you can do easily with a piece of tape, a string and a paperclip. First of all tape the string to your center line, then tie the paper clip to the end of the string and finally stand your wheel up. After all this setting, you will measure the distance between the mounting surface and the paper clip. The answer is your wheel offset. You can measure it accurately if you keep the paperclip perpendicular to the wheel’s mounting surface.


What is the role of wheel offset in choosing the right wheel and right tires for your muscle car?

 The life of your wheels and tires depends on the correct wheel offset, as its being right will produce no bad effect on your muscle car’s steering, suspension, handling or scrub radius. Correctly measured offset ensures that the wheels fit and clear all the components of the suspension and the inner wheel accurately.

Choosing the Right Wheels

All of this makes it crucial that you select the right OEM or aftermarket wheels and tires for your muscle car. Even the aftermarket truck wheels for your ride must be selected with the right parameters.

Both wheel offset and backspacing should be taken into consideration. Backspacing is measured in inches. More backspacing pulls the wheels in closer to the brakes and suspension, while less backspacing does the opposite. When you buy aftermarket wheels, it is unlikely that you will have the same offset and backspacing as the factory originals. This is because most drivers change wheels and tires to get added performance and look for wider and taller tires, thus affecting the geometry of the entire system.

For correct fitment for your aftermarket wheels, the important measurements to consider are wheel diameter, width, lug pattern and backspacing. While measuring offset precisely is difficult to do, backspacing measurements can be done with a straight edge and tape measure. The measurement is taken from the mounting surface to the wheel’s outermost edge.

 Choosing the Best Tires

When you upgrade your tires, you are typically looking for higher performance or a look that matches your style. Bigger, taller, wider tires give you better traction and control and upgrade your ability to conquer difficult topography, such as hills, stream beds and slick rock. All terrain wheels appeal to drivers because they are versatile and fit tires that adapt well to many different environments.

The correct hardware for your skins is important, too, so getting the ideal wheel spacers, lug nuts, center caps, repair kits and wheel adapters strengthen your muscle car. A wide tire selection means you can get the sidewall lettering and tread type you’ve been dreaming about. Better selection means better pricing, as well as the ability to shop famous brands such as Mickey Thompson, Michelin, Noyo, BF Goodrich, Goodyear and more.

Shop online and get a 100% price match guarantee. Get the best wheels and tires for your driving style and get the most out of your muscle car.


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