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# Wheel parameters6

## Wheel parameters

(OP)
Can someone tell me how to convert wheel backspace in inches to wheel offset in millimeters?

The guys at the tire shop didn't know.

I need for a 7.5 inch wheel width with a backspace measurement of 5.062 inches, what's the proper offset in millimeters?
Replies continue below

### RE: Wheel parameters

2
I haven't come across the term backspace before, but it sounds as though it is the depth of the mounting face relative to the inner rim. Which part of the rim do you use as a datum? If you measure it directly using the extreme edge of the wheel weight flange then you need to measure the flage width relative to the inner wall of the flange, which is where the 7 1/2 inches is measured.

The offset is the position of the mounting face relative to the nominal centreline of the wheel.

Cheers

Greg Locock

### RE: Wheel parameters

(OP)

I agree with your supposition about backspacing so I did the math and came up with a backspace of 5.062" being equal to about 34mm offset.

The wheel I want to replace has "Alfa Romeo 5 1/2 J x 14" and "campanatura 38" on it. I took the latter to be the offset.

Does that mean I could replace the 5 1/2 x 14, 38 offset wheel with a 7 1/2 x 16, 34 offset wheel?

Seems every time a put that question out locally, is gets a "yes you can, no you can't" response.

### RE: Wheel parameters

campanatura seems to mean camber (based on a brief web search).

There are several problems with fitting wider wheels, offset is only one of them. The wheel or tyre may hit the eyebrow, or the body, or the suspension, at some combination of jounce and steer. So there is no hard and fast rule, sadly.

Cheers

Greg Locock

### RE: Wheel parameters

One rule I like to follow, especially on front wheels is to keep the track reasonably close to stock as this affects scrub radius.

To much scrub radius causes any pulling in the breakes to be greatly exadurated, and kick back from potholes to be extreme.

The 5.5 X 14s have about 4.1" backspace and the 7.5 X 16s have about 5.25" backspace.

Of course tyre size will have a major impact on what will fit

Regards
pat

### RE: Wheel parameters

(OP)
The plot thickens.

I measured the distance from the outer edge of the inside of the wheel to where the wheel contacts the hub. It measures exactly 4.625". If the backspace is supposed to be 4.1", I must be measuring from the wrong place. True?

I also found campantura related to camber. If you go to http://babelfish.altavista.com/babelfish/tr you find it defined as “camber angle”. I found it related to camber at http://www.surace.it/winner.html which contains English and Italian text. Another site for Alfa Romeo wheels at http://www.afra.it/afraccer.htm uses campanatura implying offset. Reference the 5 spoke wheel for the Alfa Spider at 6 J x 14 campanatura 35.

I'm beginning to think that the meaning may be defined by the context in which it is used. A camber measurement of 38 degrees would be a bit extreme and I see no reason to put camber information on a wheel.

I do know that the 7.5 x 16 wheel with 5.062" offset fits the car with no problems using 205/50 VR 16 tires.

And I thought a simple transfer function would exist!

Thank you for the input, gentlemen.

Bryan Foster

### RE: Wheel parameters

To give you an easy explianation of these terms check out the following link

http://www.budnik.com/techInfo.asp

You can see the backside is the distance from the rear flange (furtherest out point) to the mounting pad.  Offset is calculated from the centerline of the wheel to the mounting pad of the wheel.  It can be figured out as an estimate if you figure the rear flange is approx. .450" thick.  Do the math

Wheel Width = 7.5"
Backsdide = 5.062"

7.5" / 2 = 3.75" (to find center of wheel)
3.75" + .45" = 4.2" (adding the flange thickness, this gives you the distance to the center of wheel from the rear flange)
5.062" - 4.2" = .862" (this is the offset in inches, now convert to millimeter)
.862" x 25.4 = 22mm final offset

### RE: Wheel parameters

(OP)
The flange measurement is the missing link! That would make Pat's 4.1 inch data correct using my measurements.

I'll order the 7 1/2 inch wheels with an offset of 22 mm.

Now, if one of our Italian friends would give us the answer to the "campanatura" question...

Thanks to all,

Bryan

### RE: Wheel parameters

2
Mrrch has it right.  Being a wheel designer, the way to calculate wheel offset is done as follows:

1. Measure the inner rim width with a set of inside vernier calipers.  Make sure you are on the flattest surfaces & not hitting any radii.  The inner rim width is the distance from the backside of each flange, or the distance between the bead seats.  Take this number and divide it by 2.

2. Measure the inner flange width with vernier calipers, making sure not to contact any radii on the flanges.  Subtract this result from the calculation done in step 1.

3. Measure the depth of the mounting surface from the inner flange (top of where the balance weights are clipped) using a depth caliper & 10mm flat bar.  Subtract this measurement from the result in step 2 & now you should have your offset.  If you are measuring in MM, round to the nearest whole MM, as typically there are no target offsets in tenths of a MM.

Now, to make things more confusing, there ARE negative offset rims and positive offset rims.  Negative offset rims would be the type that stick way out when mounted on a vehicle.

Hope this helps someone out!

Tim Flater
Senior Designer
Enkei America, Inc.
www.enkei.com

### RE: Wheel parameters

Don't forget that a 7.5" wheel is really 8.5" wide.  7.5" refers to the distance between the sealing beads not the overall wheel width.  Backspacing is measured by placing a straight edge across the back of the wheel and measuring to the hub mounting surface.  For example:

17 X 9 wheel w/ 24mm offset
Backspacing is 5.94"

(9+1)/2 = 5
5+(24/25.4) = 5.94"

-Joest

### RE: Wheel parameters

"Don't forget that a 7.5" wheel is really 8.5" wide."

I think that's what Tim's steps 2 and 3 cover.  His procedure is a little more involved, but it does get you around the possible situation where the inner and outer flanges are unequal/unsymmetrical (like OE 17" Maxima wheels, for example).

I'd always figured that the flanges for alloy wheels were about 0.5" thick overall including any lip (and that "steelies" are slightly less), but that judgement is based on an extremely small sample size.  My thanks to you and mrcch for providing me with some confirmation.

Norm

### RE: Wheel parameters

Joest,

You are totally estimating about overall rim widths, which WILL lead to incorrect calculations (albeit by a few millimeters, but at times every millmeter counts when you're talking clearance of the tires & surrounding parts).

Let's take your example, a 7.5 inch wide rim.  For sake of argument, we'll assume the rim is US T&RA compliant (BTW, most rims are measured in metric, not english).  A 7 inch wide rim is nominally 190.5±2.0 mm .  The MINIMUM but compliant width of EITHER flange is 11.0 mm, but the flanges could be bigger as well....I've seen them as big as 17 mm (close to 11/16") which COULD aid in tire clearance.

You stated that a 7.5" rim is really 8.5", but that's not always the case nor is it a very good assumption since few flanges are 12.7 mm (most are bigger but some can be smaller as well).  That will depend on the actual width of EACH flange.  A 7.5" rim could really be well over 8.5" inches OR well under and still be compliant to T&RA.  Guesstimating on flange width might get you into trouble if your tires are going to be close on the inside...if you've got the tools, why not measure the flange and be SURE?  Those extra wide rims might just fit, afterall.

I hope you don't take offense to me pointing you out, I just wanted to explain it in detail so folks would know accurate information.  I did not wish to single you out as being unqualified, so please understand where I'm coming from here.

Now, to clear up some 'common' terms.  Offset is the distance from the centerline of the wheel's WIDTH to the wheel's mounting surface.  Mount surface depth is the distance from the highest point on the inboard flange to the wheel's mounting surface.

I've never heard the term backspacing used by anyone in the wheel industry, but I HAVE heard it used by folks in the aftermarket industry who usually don't know what they're talking about....(they usually use it to mean OFFSET)....not their fault, but it's a good way to spread incorrect information & confuse consumers who research fitment before they buy aftermarket rims.  I'm not saying the term backspacing is NEVER used in the world, just that in 15 years in solely the wheel industry, I've never heard it when dealing with GM, Honda, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan or Mazda.  Just wanted to share my knowledge in case anyone ever walks into a wheel manufacturer's office and tries to talk the talk ;o)

Would it surprise anyone to know that there are wheels out there that have molded lettering that states the wheel is something like 38.0 mm offset but is really 37 or 39?  Well, there are.  Best bet is to do the measuring & calculations as best you can & remove as much doubt as possible.

Hope this helps out some folks out there.

Tim Flater
Senior Designer
Enkei America, Inc.
www.enkei.com

### RE: Wheel parameters

I also made a slight mistake in the calculation of a wheel's offset.  Should you use a 10 mm flat bar & depth caliper, don't forget to subtract the 10 mm from the flat bar's thickness to get the true mount depth.

Doing it word for word in my first post, one would have gotten an offset that is 10 mm bigger than it actually is.

Tim Flater
Senior Designer
Enkei America, Inc.
www.enkei.com

### RE: Wheel parameters

Thanks for the additional information, Tim.  It does seem that at the parts counter/technician level that the relation between width, offset and "backspacing" is not universally well understood.  I personally know of at least one otherwise knowledgeable dealership shop tech who is convinced that the nominal width is a meaningless number (for advertising purposes only) and that wheel width is overall width.

I've also seen wheel designations that include the letters "J", "JJ", and "JK".  As I understand it, those letters have something to do with the flange profile, but do they also affect the overall flange thickness any?

I have a little experience with fitting wheels with very close inside clearances (to the inside face of the flange but not its lip in one case).  In some cases even your minimum wheel clearance might not show up with the car at rest (e.g. relative upper control arm movement under bump + steer conditions).

Was "A 7.5 inch wide rim is nominally 190.5±2.0 mm ." intended?

Norm

### RE: Wheel parameters

Yeah....you caught my typo...thanks.  According to Tire & Rim Association, a nominal 7.5" rim is 190.5±2.0 mm.  No, it doesn't come out exactly when you convert it to inches, but that may be a tire/wheel fitment thing...who knows?  Normally, what I would do is target nominal & then make the tolerance tighter, to avoid a large floating area for the offset.  But that's just me...the auto makers usually leave the rim profiles & target dimensions up to us.  We just have to make sure our rim will fit on the car, fit the tire & balance weights, while maintaining T&RA or JATMA compliance on rim dimensions.  BTW, JATMA is for the most part the Japanese version of T&RA.

As far as rim designations (J, JJ, JK, T, B, etc.) those are just different rim profile types.  From my experience, the J ISO is the most common.  But that's not to say amongst ALL wheel makers either...just those that I've dealt with.  There could be a multitude of dimensions that are different between the different rim designations.  However, they all serve a particular purpose out in the real world, but those purposes are not clearly defined by the T&RA manual (at least in my eyes).  Basically, the rim section of the T&RA manual has a title (rim style) then a profile of the rim with nominal, gage, max & min dimensions on it.  Then there might be a couple of charts detailing a particular dimension that may vary in size (like rim diameter) and it will calculate those dimensions from like 14 inches to 22 inches.  There really is not any detailed explanation for what can & cannot be done regarding a rim design.  As long as you meet the shown dimensions, you are OK.

Flange widths (or thicknesses), as far as I have seen, are purely customer (auto maker) driven.  They are shown as a minimum in every T&RA rim profile that I've seen.  I've yet to see a maximum dimension.  Most customers have a standard flange width they prefer to use, but that doesn't mean each customer uses the exact same flange width.  I would tend to think that they have determined a favorable flange thickness based on pot hole testing; where they drive a car with aluminum wheels over simulated pot holes then check wheel damage and wheel runout.  Obviously, you don't want a cracked rim and if you do happen to hit a major pot hole, you don't want the wheel to be out of round or off center very much or you will feel the effects through noise & vibrations.  Flange widths are a factor in this type of situation, and it's all up to the customer as to what sort of performance they desire.  Most flanges that I've seen are between 15 and 13 mm thick and are called MC type flanges.  If you were to go under that type of flange width, then you get into a different design called an AW flange, which uses a different type of balance weight.

Being a wheel designer, when I hear rim width, I don't think of the overall width of the rim.  I think of the fitment to the tire.  Just like with the diameter...an 18 inch wheel is anywhere from 31 to 37 mm BIGGER in overall diameter.  Basically, when you're talking rim size designations, you leave out the flanges.  I know that seems odd, but it's all relative to where the tires seat versus the measured size of the wheel.

Tim Flater
Senior Designer
Enkei America, Inc.
www.enkei.com

### RE: Wheel parameters

The flange design is poorly specified in the T&RA book, that is, there are many flange profiles that will fit in the defined dimensions.

Sadly this means that it is easy to define a flange which does not take a standard wheelweight. It is very easy when developing a wheel for a specific pothole or chuckhole test (and kerb impact, in Australia) to end up with a profile that is too thick. This plastically bends the clip on the wheelweight, then the weights fall off on the rolling road and hit the operators and you end up with an op health and safety issue.

This is one of the reasons why we've gone for stick on wheelweights - to get a low profile tyre through kerb impact you need thick flanges (and good heat treatment).

Cheers

Greg Locock

### RE: Wheel parameters

The wheel boutique guy is wrong. The offset is independent of the rim width.

I wouldn't worry too much about changing the offset at the rear, within reasonable bounds.

Changing the offset at the front will directly alter your scrub radius. As you increase the scrub radius you will lose steering 'precision feel', but should reduce parking effort. You may get more pull under braking, which may or may not be  a good thing.

Many modern cars use scrub radius' in the range -20 to +20 mm. However, some cars handle reasonably well with a scrub radius of +100 mm .

If the change is of the order of 5-10mm, as is likely, I wouldn't sweat it. Changing from positive to negative might be of some concern, but I can't see why.

Cheers

Greg Locock

### RE: Wheel parameters

Greg,
Thanks for filling in the blanks for me. The offset change I'm looking at will probbaly be from +55mm in front to around +40mm and fromt +60mm in the rear to around +45mm.

The only thing I can think of when I think about messing with the factory designed offsets are the cars you see where people have moved from a serious positive to a significant negative and the wheels hang outside the fenders. This is, of course, a gross exageration of my situation but I wanted to get a sanity check before I proceeded.

It sounds like I should fret too much over a small change of ~15mm in offset in this situation.

Thanks again,
Scott

### RE: Wheel parameters

Sounds fine to me. Let us know if it isn't!

Cheers

Greg Locock

### RE: Wheel parameters

It's possible that you might end up tinkering with your static toe settings, as torques about the steering axis (and the associated compliance effects) will be somewhat different.

Norm

### RE: Wheel parameters

nkwheelguy (Automotive) May 27, 2004
Mrrch has it right.  Being a wheel designer, the way to calculate wheel offset is done as follows:

1. Measure the inner rim width with a set of inside vernier calipers.  Make sure you are on the flattest surfaces & not hitting any radii.  The inner rim width is the distance from the backside of each flange, or the distance between the bead seats.  Take this number and divide it by 2.

2. Measure the inner flange width with vernier calipers, making sure not to contact any radii on the flanges.  Subtract this result from the calculation done in step 1.

3. Measure the depth of the mounting surface from the inner flange (top of where the balance weights are clipped) using a depth caliper & 10mm flat bar.  Subtract this measurement from the result in step 2 & now you should have your offset.  If you are measuring in MM, round to the nearest whole MM, as typically there are no target offsets in tenths of a MM.

Now, to make things more confusing, there ARE negative offset rims and positive offset rims.  Negative offset rims would be the type that stick way out when mounted on a vehicle.

Hope this helps someone out!

Tim Flater
Senior Designer
Enkei America, Inc.
www.enkei.com

HEY TIM:

I had a bit of a hard time interpreting this post, so let me see if I get this right.

OFFICIAL Wheel 'width' is the distance between the insides of the flanges, which is about 0.8 to 1.1" narrower than the UNOFFICIAL outside 'width' of the flanges that most people think of.

Next, offset is the distance from the wheel's natural centerline to the mounting backside of the boltholes pad, with NEGATIVE OFFSET meaning MORE distance from the unseen inboard flange to the unseen mounting pad than the LESSER distance from the seen outboard lugnut mounting pad to the seen outboard flange!

And, finally, the 'backspacing' is the distance from the tire mounting bead to the inboard mounting pad, so that BACKSPACING = 0.5000*(the bead-to-bead distance) - (offset measurement) ..... so that negative offset INCREASES Backspacing and positive offset DECREASES Backspacing .....

I am trying to get this straight so I can make an informed decision on the purchase of new 17" rims for my 94 LEGEND 6-SPEED with 6.5"x16"x(65)mm offset rims!

Dudes on EBAY seem NOT to know what they are talking about!

Thanks so much!  Jeff Kay, Risk Analyst, Automotive Loans.

### RE: Wheel parameters

Jeff,

You have the terms right, but the positive/negative offset is a bit backwards.  Please use the following image as a reference (this is a typical POSITIVE offset wheel):

Wheel width as defined by T&RA is labeled inner rim width, which as you can see EXCLUDES the flange(s).  Keep in mind not all flanges measure the same, so if you desire fair accuracy for fitment, better measure them to be sure...certainly won't hurt anything (when performing calculations, etc.).

Now, you have the calculation of offset correct, but a positive offset is going to be FURTHER away from the centerline or inboard flange (or on the right side of the centerline as shown above).  A negative offset will be to the left of the centerline as shown above.  Zero offset wheels will lie right on the centerline.

Negative offset wheels appear to stick out really far when mounted onto a vehicle (abnormally far in my point of view).  If you've ever seen the wire wheels that stick way out from the fenderlines (of a lot of teenager's cars), you know what I mean.  The lower the offset number, the further out the wheel is going to sit compared to the well/fender.

You can of course do what you wish, but I would personally try to keep within a FEW inches of the stock wheel offset.  This isn't going to give you any guarantees of ALL clearances though.  Will just keep the wheel from sitting in too far or sticking out too far.

Hope this helps out.

Tim Flater
Senior Designer
Enkei America, Inc.
www.enkei.com

### RE: Wheel parameters

I use AutoCAD to design wheels with and I have made 3 full sets of wheels, that have been used on vehicles to date.  But how hard is it to have a set made by a established wheel company?  Instead of just using my local machine shop.

### RE: Wheel parameters

If I'm misinterpreting your question, I apologize....I'm assuming you don't mean to just sell your designs to wheel makers...you actually want custom wheels made for personal use, correct?

Never heard of such a thing being done, at least for a very very low number of wheels (like a one-off set of wheels).  Here where I am employed, we want wheel programs with large volumes so we don't have to set up machinery on a daily basis.  We don't make money when the machines aren't running.

Also, most wheel manufacturers cast their wheels versus machining them from billet, which is what the machine shops probably do for you, correct?  So you'd have to be willing to pay for the tooling costs as well.  I'd think it would be a completely different story if the wheel company actually bought your design & decided to manufacture it as an aftermarket part on a mass production basis.

Tim Flater
Senior Designer
Enkei America, Inc.
www.enkei.com

### RE: Wheel parameters

The billet machined wheels that I have had cut have been very expensive so far.  My goal was to have a one off set for myself but now that I have seen the expense of it all.  The low numbers for one off sets are the thing that have led me to look into casting.

Well, how would you go about submitting/selling a possible wheel design for manufacture?  I have no idea of the costs that are involved in casting.  What are your guidelines for submission for wheel designs?  Because I have been sitting on several design for months on end.

The whole thing that got me started on this track in the first place is that I couldn't find a wheel that I liked.  So why not trying to have a concept realized.

Jerry

### RE: Wheel parameters

There's a couple of approaches.

One would be to go for sandcasting. We do this for prototypes, in our experience a sandcast wheel is not acceptable for production, because of porosity and so on. However, you could probably get a pattern made from wood for about \$10000 (less if you did a lot of work yourself). Then you'd pay for casting and machining and painting on top. The true cost of that is largely setup time and the cost of aluminium.

For production wheels we use low pressure die cast parts. The patterns probably cost about 10 times as much, and need an expensive refurbishment every few thousand wheels.

When designing wheels be very aware that the big manufacturers employ vicious lawyers to enforce their copyright.

Cheers

Greg Locock

### RE: Wheel parameters

What is wrong with machining the centres or spider from say 2" thick plate or billet, then using spun rims.

This limits the design possibilities, but would certainly reduce costs.

You could end up with something like Centre Lines or Weld wheels

Regards
pat   pprimmer@acay.com.au
eng-tips, by professional engineers for professional engineers
Please see FAQ731-376 for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips Fora.

### RE: Wheel parameters

That's basically what BBS, Symmonds, Image, Kodiak etc do. The centres are either cast/machined or billet/machined. It means that just a few standard rim shells can be used to produce a multitude of sizes and offsets, which can be further fettled by front-mounting, sandwiching, or back mounting them.
It's terrific fun designing and making your own wheels for motorcycles and cars, and is usually much cheaper than purchasing big name aftermarket wheels.

### RE: Wheel parameters

Well, I have to ask a few questions, since ya'll have given me so much info.

I know that it is possible to create a billet center and attach it to a standard wheel. Is it possible to cast the centers and then attach them to a standard rim shell, for a relatively inexpensive cost?

What specs do you use for two-piece wheel construction, got any suggestions?

I have several wheels that I have used for reference for producing so far, but what programs you use to design with?  Because there are several platforms out there, but I export out of AutoCAD for the designs that I have produced for machining.

Thank you for providing me with so much valuable information.

### RE: Wheel parameters

I use ACAD for drawing up wheels too. I'm not aware of any dedicated wheel designing software.
I normally make two and three-piece rims from .190 6061 which are first spun, then heat treated, then trued and the spigot hole cut and then a final heat treat.
Centres can easily be sand cast in the back yard using MDF patterns cut out with a router.

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