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What is a Wheel Bolt Pattern?

One of the most frequent questions we are asked is “Will this wheel fit my car?”. There are many factors that go into wheel and tire fitment. Wheel size, offset, backspacing and bolt pattern are all factors. What is a wheel bolt pattern you may ask? It’s easy. It’s just a way of referring to the arrangement of wheels studs used to attach a wheel to the vehicle. Now let’s break it down into detail.

Center Bores, Plates, and Lug Holes

First let’s review the center parts of the wheel. If you need a quick refresher on the parts of a wheel, refer to our complete guide to wheel anatomy.  If you look at the center of a wheel, that’s called the center bore and it’s the opening in the back of the wheel where the wheel is centered on the hub. Got it? Okay, next comes the plate. That’s the piece of metal that goes around the center bore. The plate has openings called lug holes. These are the openings to accommodate the wheel studs. Its where the lug nuts go.

In a perfect world, every car and truck manufactured in every country would use the same number of wheel studs and arrange those wheel studs in the same pattern. In case you haven’t noticed, while we may live in a pretty darn good world, it’s not perfect. Some manufacturers (like BMW) don’t even use a consistent bolt pattern on every model every year. That’s why we need a way to communicate how those lugs holes are arranged. Because if you want the wheel to fit on the car/truck, those studs and holes must be arranged to match perfectly. Enter the bolt pattern.

What is a Wheel Bolt Pattern?

So, the wheel bolt pattern is just a shorthand way of describing how the wheel studs on a car/truck and the lug holes on a wheel are arranged. That way you can easily compare the two to determine if there is a match.

Bolt patterns are expressed by two numbers: the number of bolts (N) and the size of the bolt center diameter (BCD). It looks like this: NxBCD. The bolt center diameter is measured in millimeters or inches. So if you’ve got a 2016 GMC Acadia, your bolt pattern is 6×132 and you need a wheel like the KMC Nerve. The lug holes and studs will match.

The only tricky part of figuring your wheel bolt pattern is figuring that bolt center diameter. It’s an imaginary line that runs through the circle of the bolts. The way you measure the bolt center diameter depends on the number of bolts. Bolt patterns with an even number of bolts are determined by measuring from the center of the top bolt to the center of the bottom bolt. Use this method for 4, 6, or 8 bolts. If there is an odd number of bolts, you measure from the center of one bolt hole to the furthermost edge of one of the two farthest holes.

Matching Wheel Bolt Patterns to Your Car/Truck

The easiest way to figure out if a wheel will fit your car or truck is to rely on Wheelfire’s fitment program. It’s easy, just click Search by Vehicle, enter the year, make and model and then select your wheel size. The fitment program will only serve up wheels with a bolt pattern that match your vehicle. Not sure what size wheel you need? That’s another question and we’ll cover that in another post.

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