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Mustang Wheel Basics - Backspacing, Offset & More

Written By: Andrew Cilio

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Show off your style and give those around you a glimpse into your personality with a set of aftermarket wheels. A lot is said by what a person drives so make sure the statement you're making is one that accurately represents you.

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When selecting new wheels for your Ford Mustang, it's important to understand wheel basics in order to get the appropriate wheel. This guide will cover wheel offsets, backspacing, and bolt patterns, giving you everything you need to pick out the perfect wheels for your Mustang.

American Muscle

Wheels and Definitions

We’ve covered the basics and taken the guess work out of buying mustang wheels in our Mustang Wheel Buying Guide. But we know that there are a few people out there who do want to know what their technician is talking about. We've created this guide for you, and filled it with the technical information regarding your Mustang's wheels.

We’ve all heard auto techs mention terms like “offset,” “backspacing,” and “bolt pattern” when talking to them about wheels. And we’ve all nodded our heads like we knew what they were talking about even when we didn’t. Here’s a secret for you: most Mustang owners don’t know everything about buying wheels for their mustang.

Looking for different tire sizing calculations, or just want to see how much those new rims are going to throw off your speedometer? A tire size calculator will help you solve fitment and spacing issues, as well as give you insight into measurements and differences between tires.

American Muscle Mustang Wheel

Mustang Wheel Offset

The offset on a Mustang's wheel is the distance from the hub mounting surface to the centerline of the wheel. It is very important to purchase a wheel with the correct offset for your year Mustang. If the offset is not right for your mustang, the suspension, steering, and handling will be affected.

There are three types of offset:

  1. Zero Offset: Mustang wheels with zero offset means the hub mounting surface is even with the centerline of the wheel.
  2. Positive Offset: The hub mounting surface on your Mustang's wheel is toward the front (face or "wheel side") of the wheel. Positive offset wheels are generally found on front wheel drive cars as well as on newer rear-wheel drive cars.
  3. Negative Offset: Having negative offset on your Mustang's wheels means that the hub mounting surface is toward the back (or brake side) of the wheel’s centerline. 
Mustang Rim Offset Diagram

Mustang Wheel Backspacing

Backspacing is the distance from the back edge of a wheel's rim to the mounting surface of the center hub. Measured in inches, backspacing is closely related to offset in that changing one affects the other. The offset is the hub surface to the centerline, and backspacing is back of the wheel to the hub surface.

This measurement is important because it determines the clearance of the wheel in the well and how much the wheel will stick out. You can measure a wheel’s backspacing by running a straight edge across the rim bead and dropping another straight edge down to the wheel face, measuring that distance.

Mustang Rim Backspacing Illustration

Mustang Bolt Patterns

The bolt pattern is the diameter of the circle made by the centers of the wheel lugs. So, for our 5-lug wheels, a bolt pattern of 5 x 4.5 inches means that the lug pattern falls on a circle that is 4.5 inches in diameter.

Year:Factory Wheel SizingFactory Bolt PatternStud sizingCenter BoreOffsetMax Wheel Size
1979-1993 Mustang14"x64"x108mm1/2"x20mm63.415-25mm (M)20 inches
1985-1993 Mustang GT15-16"4"x108mm1/2"x20mm63.415-25mm (M)20 inches
1994-1998 Mustang, Mustang GT & Cobra15-18"5"x114.3mm1/2"x20mm70.335-50mm (H)22 inches
1999-2004 Mustang, Mustang GT & Cobra15-17"5"x114.3mm1/2"x20mm70.335-50mm (H)22 inches
2005-2009 Mustang & Mustang GT16-18"5"x114.3mm1/2"x20mm70.335-50mm (H)22 inches
2010-2014 Mustang & Mustang GT17-19"5"x114.3mm1/2"x20mm70.335-50mm (H)22 inches