Top Signs Of Negative Offset Wheel Problems

It’s always fun to try and customize your car. 

One way you can upgrade and personalize your car is by changing the wheel offset. 

However, before you jump into upgrading your wheels, you need to know about the concept of negative offset wheels and what it could mean for your car.

Here’s everything you need to know about wheel offset.

Understanding What Wheel Offset Means

Before we begin, you need to understand what a wheel offset means. 

Basically, a wheel offset is a term used to describe the distance between the centerline of the wheel and where you mount it on the hub.

Having the right wheel offset for your car is essential as it allows your wheel to move freely while you’re driving and turning

Your main priority should be to find the right offset to ensure that your wheels don’t rub against essential components of your car such as suspension, calipers, and others while you drive.

Try visualizing a square in place of a wheel. 

There’s a line running through its center which represents the wheel’s mounting surface. 

This line could be right in the center, right in front of the center, or right behind it.

What does Backspacing Mean?

Backspace is a term used to measure the total wheel width and the distance from the inner edge to the mounting surface in a wheel.

What Are the Different Kinds of Offsets?

There are essentially three different ways you can mount your wheel on the hub that can create either negative, positive, or zero offsets. 

The following takes a detailed look at the possible wheel offset combinations.

Positive Offset

A positive offset is when the hub mounting surface is right in front of the centerline

Wheels have a large backspace compared to the rest of the offset. 

The biggest advantage of a positive offset is that it is generally a safer offset choice for individuals.

Choosing a positive offset makes it easier to fit wider tires onto your car without worrying about them rubbing against and damaging the suspension and other components

It’s the ideal choice for off the road vehicles as it helps car owners avoid clearance issues. 

Moreover, if you’re looking to have a wheel style tucked inside the car’s fenders, a positive offset is how you can achieve it.

However, despite the many benefits, there are still concerns regarding positive offset wheels. 

The most prominent of the problems related to the potential damage you can do to your suspension components by not taking the edge of the wheel into account during the installation process.

You can easily avoid this issue by considering the entire movement spectrum before you opt for a positive wheel offset.

Zero Offset

A zero offset is the neutral position of the wheel right in the middle of the centerline and hence, the most common and preferred choice for an average car owner

It’s a stylish choice for sure, and some car drivers have recommended a zero offset for better handling control. 

However, zero offsets usually end up accelerating the stress placed on a wheel. Dull handling is another drawback.

Negative Offset

A negative offset is the opposite of a positive offset. Meaning that the wheel mounting surface is right behind the centerline

The amount of backspace between the wheel and mounting surface is also significantly less compared to other offsets.

Benefits Of Negative Offset Wheels

Let’s take a detailed look into why negative offset stands as a favorite among certain car owners.

More Stability

A negative offset wheel ends up giving you a wider wheel track

This in turn results in better stability but comes at the cost of reduced feedback. 

A wider wheel track can drastically change the way the steering feels under your arms. 

Giving the driver intuitive control over the car and more grip. It’s why most race cars come supported with negative offset wheels.

On the other hand, for off the road vehicles, the wider track provided by a negative offset grants them better control on rugged terrain.

It Looks Stylish

If you’re someone who cares a lot about the cosmetic side of your car, the look that negative offset wheels give will be no less than a match made in heaven for you. 

Not only will your car look cool and stand out, but it will also significantly improve its overall stance.

Problems Associated with Negative Offset Wheels

However, all that glitters is not good. 

Having negative offset wheels comes with a ton of problems that for some people outweighs its benefits

Accelerated Wear of Axle

Negative offset wheels come with a wide track. 

This means that it puts additional pressure on key components of your car such as axle, bearings, hubs, and more. 

The more weight your car carries, the more prominent this problem becomes. Excess stress can quickly lead to premature wear of these components.

Wheels Can Rub Against Fenders

When you opt for negative offset wheels, you’re popping your wheels out more than they’re supposed to be. 

This can cause the front of your wheel to rub against your fenders every time you take a turn.

Is Negative Offset Always Bad?

A negative offset doesn’t always have to be bad. 

If you do your calculation and get your measurements right, you won’t face some of the many problems of having a negative offset.

However, too much offset can be extremely harmful to your car and your wheels. 

Not only will you put key components of your car like suspension at risk of damage, but you can also end up damaging the wheel itself. 

Fixing the former and replacing the latter can be expensive expenditures to undertake.

Who opts For Negative Offset Wheels?

Having negatively offset wheels is ideal for car owners who are planning on taking their car off the road or using it for racing. 

It’s why you’ll see that most racing cars will almost always have negatively off-set wheels

That’s because the trade-off between better performance and potential damage to the wheel is acceptable in both these scenarios.

Do Negative Offset Wheels Stick Out?

Yes, negative offset wheels usually stick out. 

It’s both a plus point and a negative as a popped-up wheel can lead to a more aggressive and stylish car stance while at the same time putting your car’s wheels at risk of rubbing against the fender and other key components.

Can Negative Offset Cause Rubbing

Yes! That’s one of the major reasons why negative offset wheels aren’t recommended. 

As the offset pops the tire out more than necessary, it can cause the front end of your wheels to rub against the fender, resulting in premature wear and tear

Final Thoughts

One way of customizing the look of your car is to opt for negatively offset wheels. 

While this type of offset can have many benefits, it comes with its set of drawbacks and trade-offs. 

It’s important to know when this tradeoff is acceptable and when it’s not. 

Most problems that come with a negatively offset wheel can be avoided by taking proper measurements of the offset and the backspace.


Dean Alvarez, TireForge Head Author

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