How to Find Compatible Rims for a Car

by William Zane
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Thanks to the dizzying array of aftermarket and OEM (original equipment manufacturer) wheels available for your vehicle, finding the right wheels can be a confusing undertaking. Wheels that do not fit properly not only look wrong but can also affect the handling of your vehicle and create a potentially dangerous situation. There are a few steps that can make it far easier to get the proper set of wheels on your car.

Step 1

Determine the original dimensions of the wheels that came with your car when it was manufactured. You can fit smaller or larger wheels and tires, but it is important to know what size wheel and tire the maker originally intended to go on the car so that you have an idea of what will fit. Wheel dimensions are measured by two criteria, width and diameter. For example, if a wheel measures 15 by 7 inches, it is 15 inches across the face of the wheel and 7 inches from the outside edge to the inside edge.

Step 2

Find out the proper offset of your wheels. The offset refers to where the hub-mounting surface is in relation to the centerline of the wheel, which in turn locates the wheel in relation to the vehicle. The proper offset wheel is crucial when it come to installing the proper wheels. If the wheels stick out too far from the hub, the tires may interfere with or rub on the bodywork. Wheels that are too far from the hub and axle can also create excess wear on wheel bearings, hubs and suspension components. If the tires are too far in, they may interfere with the brakes and suspension. Incorrect offset wheels can also negatively affect a car’s handling.

Step 3

Find out the bolt pattern of your hub and wheels. Another important criteria in determining whether a wheel will fit on your car is the bolt pattern, which refers to how many lug nuts or bolts fasten the wheel to the hub and how far apart the holes for the lug nuts are. For instance, if a wheel pattern is 4-by-100 (a common VW bolt pattern), there are four lug holes and the distance from the center of one lug hole to the hole directly across from it is 100 mm. If a wheel has an odd number of holes, five for example, the distance is measured from the center of the hole to the area between the two opposite holes.

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