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Wheel Offset and Backspacing Explained

November 4, 2020


With so many different numbers and measurements on wheels, it can be a little confusing to understand.

Lifted Sierra 2500 with Moto Metal Wheels

If you've been looking for new wheels for your vehicle, you've probably come across the term Offset quite often. But what does it really mean and does it matter?

F150 with Anthem Viper Wheels

Today, we'll go over all of those questions and more


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Wheel sizes are normally listed as 22x12 -51mm or 18x9 +25mm, etc, but what do all of these numbers mean? First, we have the diameter which, in this example, is a 22. So a 22x12 -51mm would be a 22” diameter wheel.

Lifted F150 with ARKON OFF-ROAD Lincoln

The second set of numbers listed is the width in inches, so a 22x12 -51mm would be a 12” wide wheel. The third set of numbers is where it gets tricky. That number is the offset of the wheel in mm. So a 22x12 -51mm would be a -51mm offset.


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1. Offset

Wheel Offset Graphic

So there’s wheel diameter, wheel width, and a “positive” or “negative” offset. What is offset? Offset is the distance in millimeters (mm) + or - from the hub (where you bolt the wheel to the vehicle) to the true center of the wheel.


What's the difference between a lift kit and leveling kit?


A “negative” offset is where the mounting surface of the wheel is closer to the inside (brake side) of the wheel. In the truck world, many custom truck wheels come in aggressive negative offsets. The more negative the offset, the more aggressive stance you will get.

Yellow Ram with aftermarket wheels

This means the wheels will “poke” outside of the fenders. “Poke” or “Stance” is when the wheel and tire stick outside of your fender. A negative offset is what can create a larger lip or concave style, which will push the tire out.

Ram with a lot of negative offset

A “positive” offset is where the mounting surface of the wheel is closer to the outside (fender side) of the wheel. This pushes the wheel in toward the brakes which can “sink” the tire and wheel into the fender well opening.

F150 Positive Offset



2. Backspacing

Offset and Backspacing

Does backspacing matter? Backspacing is similar to offset, but it changes where we measure from. We are still looking for the distance from the mounting surface of the wheel, but instead of measuring the centerline, it’s measured from the back edge of the mounting surface (hub).

New Lifted Sierra Denali

Backspacing is less commonly used than offset because offset has replaced backspace measuring in common wheel fitment.


When you break it down, offset and backspacing aren't too difficult to understand but do play a big role in the way your wheels fit and how they look.

F150 with TIS Wheels

If you head over to our homepage, you'll be able to enter the year, make, and model of your vehicle and find wheels that we recommend for your specific vehicle. This will make your wheel fitment decisions even easier!


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Not sure what wheels you want for your vehicle? Check out our other blogs where we break down a variety of topics into Top 5 lists, comparisons, and guides!