How to Measure a Track on a Vehicleby Thomas West
A vehicle’s track, or track width, is the distance between the center line of each of the two wheels on the same axle on any given vehicle. On most vehicles, the track width will differ between the front and rear axles since they perform different functions. Measuring track width is helpful when determining if a vehicle will fit on a car trailer, flat bed wrecker truck, or a hydraulic car lift. Knowing a vehicle’s track width is also helpful in identifying a vehicle type by using tracks left at a crime scene.
Park the vehicle on a flat, level area and set the parking brake. Raise the vehicle with a floor jack and support it with jack stands, if needed to gain access to the tire tread.
Turn the steering wheel so the front wheels point straight ahead.
Measure across the tires on one axle from the outside of the tread on one tire to the inside of the tread on the tire on the other side of the vehicle, using a tape measure. This measurement is the track width. If it is easier, you may also measure from the outside of one tire tread to the outside of the tire tread on the other side of the vehicle, just remember to subtract the width of one tire tread from your measurement to get the correct track width. Repeat this step on the other axle to get its track width.
- When measuring tire tracks, oversized tires installed on the original vehicle rims will not affect the track width measurement. However, aftermarket rims may have a different offset than the original rims, throwing off the track width measurement. A vehicle that has incorrect front-end alignment may also throw off the track width measurements.
Items you will need
- Hydraulic jack
- Jack stands
- Measuring tape
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