Aftermarket wheels are easily among the most popular vehicle upgrades.

Available in a seemingly endless amount of designs, finishes, and sizes, wheels can change the entire look of a car or truck and can even effect performance, depending on their weight. Although appearance, weight, and construction are important factors in choosing the right wheels, none of it truly matters if your wheels don’t fit.

That’s why we put together this quick guide to measuring wheel bolt pattern and backspacing. Along with our articles on wheel offsets and wheel/tire plus-sizing, this information will help you take essential steps toward selecting the right wheels for your ride.

How to Measure Wheel Bolt Pattern

Also called bolt circle, bolt pattern is an expression of the number of wheel studs and the distance between them. To measure your bolt pattern, pick the illustration below that represents your wheel stud pattern and measure as described below each illustration.

diagram of how to measure bolt Patterns on a 5 lug wheel
(Image/Summit Racing – Craig Artzner)
diagram of how to measure bolt Patterns on a 6 lug wheel
(Image/Summit Racing – Craig Artzner)
diagram of how to measure bolt Patterns on vehicle Wheels
(Image/Summit Racing – Craig Artzner)

How to Measure Backspacing

Backspacing is the distance between the back of the rim flange and the mounting pad (where the hub attaches). Using the illustration below as guide, measuring backspacing is a simple two-step process.

how to measure wheel backspace graphic
(Image/Summit Racing)
  1. Take a wheel off your car and lay it on a flat surface with the back (the side that faces the brakes) facing up.
  2. Lay a straightedge across the wheel and measure down to the mounting pad (you may have to deflate the tire to do this). This distance is your backspacing.

Armed with your wheel’s bolt pattern and backspacing, you’re ready to find a wheel design and size truly befitting your vehicle.

custom wheels and brakes on a 1974 Chevy Camaro
See more of this tasty 2nd-gen. Camaro here. (Image/Summit Racing – Jenna Gonzales)
Author: David Fuller

David Fuller is OnAllCylinders' managing editor. During his 20-year career in the auto industry, he has covered a variety of races, shows, and industry events and has authored articles for multiple magazines. He has also partnered with mainstream and trade publications on a wide range of editorial projects. In 2012, he helped establish OnAllCylinders, where he enjoys covering all facets of hot rodding and racing.