Definition of Staggered Wheels

by Tyler Lacoma
itstillruns article image
Chalabala/iStock/Getty Images

Staggered wheels refers to an arrangement of wheels on cars, trucks, planes and other vehicles in which the pair of wheels on one end of the vehicle are a different size or shape than the wheels on the other end. Usually, this means the back wheels are larger than the front wheels, often a couple inches wider across the tread or larger in diameter. This is done for practical and aesthetic reasons. Although larger rear tires can help vehicles move over uneven ground, they also affect the build and frame design of the car, making it look sleeker or more powerful. Many car companies sell sets of staggered wheels.


If a car has staggered wheels, its rims are of different sizes in width and diameter. When you buy and equip a staggered set of wheels, this usually means your vehicle's back wheels are larger than the front set. For some cars or trucks, this is a standard design; for others, you must buy a special set from a provider that makes compatible tires. As cars and tires have become more advanced, manufacturers have begun to offer more staggered wheel packages at their stores and online.


Sometimes, the differences are small. The back set of tires may be only an inch wider than the front or 1/2 inch wider in diameter, but this is enough to make a difference in most vehicles. Some types of staggered wheel configurations, such as airplane wheels, are necessary to balance and maneuver the vehicle.


Sometimes people prefer the way staggered wheels look because the wider wheels allow for more lip -- the part of the car frame that overhangs and protects tires extending beyond the body. Staggered wheels also have technical benefits: wider tires mean more traction on the road and therefore better control, at least in the back. Your tires will also tend to be low profile, allowing for easier turning and braking.


Though staggered wheels can make aspects of driving easier, they also come with difficulties. Staggered wheels make tires more difficult to rotate and can adversely affect driving. If the back wheels are too large, they can make it more difficult to brake in a short time. If you're switching to a vehicle with staggered wheels when you're used to driving without, you must change your driving style and expectations to compensate.

Typical Applications

Nearly any car can fit staggered wheels, but there are also some that come this way directly from the factory. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini and Ferrari do so with their performance models. You may also find these on other high-performance cars, like the Ford Mustang GT, Nissan 370Z and others.

More Articles

article divider