rc wheel offset explained

RC Wheel Offset Explained: Complete Guide

Imagine your happy driving getting interrupted due to a faulty offset. Well, it is absolutely annoying. But this thing could be easily avoided if the driver had proper knowledge about offsets. 

It’s not unknown that offsets are necessary for all aspects of wheeling. They demand the least attention yet cause the most pain if not used properly.

Now, what do you think of RC wheel offset explained?

An RC wheel’s offset is the distance between the hub attachment surface and the wheel’s centerline. Offset is represented as an ET number. Generally, it is measured in millimeters. It can be positive, negative, or zero.  Every offset has a certain use and choosing the right one is equally important. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are interested in more, come read the rest of the article!

What is RC Wheel Offset?

Before getting into the depth, you need to understand what is an RC wheel offset in the first place. So, offset refers to the location of the hex underneath the rim. 1/2 offset would put you in the center of the rim, giving you a broader stance. 

Source: rextremerc.blogspot.com

In different types of RC tires, different offset types are preferred. The offset of the wheel is determined by the thickness and can be positive, negative, or zero.

This location is necessary to control the wheeler better. It determines the speed and strength of your tire. Also, it provides immaculate safety from accidents due to speeding.

However, keep in mind that not all-wheel offsets are suitable for RCs. To help you with choosing the right offset for your RC I’ve compiled a list for you.

Here are some of my favorite offsets:

These helped me the best to avoid dangerous situations during driving. Hope they come in handy for you too.

Now, as stated, RC wheel offset is determined by millimeters. And can be positive, negative, or zero. Now, you must be wondering what are these offset measurements

Well, let’s check out the difference below:

Positive Offset

Positive wheel offset occurs when the hub retaining surface is in advance. That is toward the street side of the wheel’s centerline. 

A positive offset is common in front-wheel-drive cars. Especially newer rear-drive vehicles.

The inside lip of the inner suspension is damaged if there is too much positive offset.  Also, the braking components suffer from it.  

That is if the wheel seats too far in towards the automobile. This can result in poor handling, making the vehicle unstable at high speeds. 

Sometimes the rubbing occurs on the inner sidewall of the tire, resulting in a tire rupture. You may also notice steering problems of RC cars. Hence, the positive offset is not always good. 

Negative Offset

Sometimes you will see the hub mounting surface lies behind the wheel centerline. This is referred to as negative wheel offset. “Deep dish” wheels are often offset in the negative.

Backspacing will be greater on the wider wheel. If this leads the tire to set very far into the mudguard, a negative offset could push it out. 

Which causes the outside edge of the tire to stick out more from the truck. They are more for strength and stronger brake. 

Too much negative offset would cause restriction in movements. It’s even prone to more accidents. Hence, try to make it more neutral. This makes more durable rc tires. 

Zero Offset

The amount of divergence in output at the lowest range is known as zero offsets. The zero offset could be expressed as a proportion of the complete scale range. It is in metric or signal units. 

The zero offset can be expressed as a percentage of the entire scale range. That too is in either metric or signal units.

On the product technical fact sheet, manufacturers may provide a zero offset.  By setting a tolerance to aid users in determining the total error to be projected. Hence, without any calibration modification.

Source: blog.rcmart.com

For example, a temperature transmitter sensing 0 to 100°C. Also, with a flow of 4 to 20mA may have a zero offset accuracy of +/- 0.15mA.

Wheels and wheel nuts come in various shapes and sizes. Do not hesitate to pick what’s best for you.

Negative Vs. Positive Offset Effects

You might be wondering about what is the difference between positive and negative offset. Actually,  your tire life and longevity of it depend on your right pick of these offsets.

Let’s go check on some of the difference between negative and positive offset:

Positive offsetNegative offset
Mounting surface leaning toward streetMounting surface leaning toward suspension
Mostly for front-wheelMostly for back wheel
For better control of speedFor better control of brakes
Used in lighter vehiclesUsed in heavier vehicles 

So, we have seen the basic differences on positive offset vs negative offset

Now, let’s see a bit more elaborated version. 

When you put new tires on your car, positive and negative offset comes into play. If you want to go wider, you should think about adjusting the offset.

If your offset is too positive, the inside of the tire may collide with your suspension. To fix this, reduce the offset so that it is closer to zero. This causes the tire to move out.

Sometimes when your offset becomes too negative, the tire will rub against the car’s body and fenders. Reduce the offset to carry the tire closer to the vehicle.

It is important for the offset to be near zero for the sake of safety. Otherwise, major accidents are on the way.

How to Measure Offset?

The offset is measured in millimeters. This assessment is obtained by using a tape measure. For that, take measurements between the wheel midline and the mounting surface.

You need to use a good quality stainless steel ruler for taking measurements of your RC wheel offset. Here are some of our favorite rulers on the market:

We now have all of the information we need to calculate offset. Offset is simply the distance between the hub mounting surface and the wheel center.

In other words-

  Offset = Measured Backspace – Calculated Wheel Center Distance.

The result will be a positive, negative, or zero number. This indicates which side of the midline the offset is on.

If you’re still unclear about the whole measurement process then you can watch this video. It goes in-depth on how to measure RC wheel offset.

How To Measure The Offset Of A RC Car Wheel Rim. Video must be viewed with annotations ON

Final Discussion

You might be confused about which offset to get. Actually, anyone of the offsets that suit your RC better is a good option. Like different sizes of RC motor, RC wheels also use different offsets.

So, if you need speed and strength to maximum, use positive offset. And if you need a stronger brake and control, use the negative brake. Lastly, if you need all these properly balanced use zero offsets.

Hope all your confusion is cleared.


Does wheel offset impact handling?

Yes, wheels offset does impact the handling. Usually, reduced offsets lead to wider track widths. This can increase the cornering speeds of your wheel. It does it by lowering the lateral transfer of load from the inside to outside tires. Also, changing offsets affect widths as well. 

Which is better between negative and positive offset?

That depends on your backspacing needs. Correct backspacing provides enough space for the suspension, and braking. Also, lets the steering system function without intervention from the wheel. The positive offset increases backspace, whilst the negative offset decreases backspace.

What do you mean by 4 3-wheel offsets?

First of all, the whole point of offset is to measure the distance from the hub. Therefore, (4+3) offset means how many times millimeters the wheel will poke out. Or how many times it will draw in from the hub’s mounting surface. 


Hoping your confusion about RC wheel offset is explained. We have tried our best to answer every related query on this topic.

But if you face any issues with it, it’s better to take an expert’s help. They know better and will give better guidance. 

Lastly, hope you have fun with your ride ahead. Enjoy!

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