Home » Here’s Why Car Wheels Are So Flat These Days (And No, It’s Not Just Aerodynamics And Styling)

Here’s Why Car Wheels Are So Flat These Days (And No, It’s Not Just Aerodynamics And Styling)

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Hello Autopians! Have you ever wondered why designers show sketches of concept cars with massive deep dish wheels, but when those cars actually make it to production the wheels end up being fairly flat? Adrian Clarke talked about this recently from a designers point of view, but I’m going to tell you why this is true from an engineering point of view. In other words, I’m going to tell you why we just can’t have nice things!

Years ago, in days of old, cars came with wheels that had very deep dish styling. Life was good, cars looked cool and everyone was happy (okay, maybe that’s a stretch). Over the years, as technology marched on, deep dish wheels got shallower until finally, starting about 20 years ago, they became essentially flat on the outside. Why did this happen? Well, in a word, “steering” is what happened. The change from deep dish wheels to flat wheels can be traced back to improvements in the steering system — in particular, to the popularity and advantages of rack and pinion steering.

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[Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on September 13, 2022. It’s being re-upped as The Autopian celebrates its two-year anniversary! -DT]. 

Why Rack And Pinion Steering Requires Reducing The ‘Scrub Radius.’ And Why Flat Wheels Help

Let me explain. All front suspensions have something called a kingpin axis, or steering axis. It is the axis about which your front wheels rotate when you steer the car, and can be visualized as a line going through the upper and lower ball joints (you can think of these as pivots/hinges) in a double wishbone design (or through the lower ball joint and the upper spring mount in a MacPherson strut). It defines one of the central characteristics of the suspension: the caster angle, though we won’t get into that. For now, just know that the location of this line that represents your steering axis, relative to the tire contact patch and the center of the wheel, is critical to understanding why the look of wheels has changed so much over the years. Let’s look at a cross section of a wheel and tire, looking from the front of the car:

Screen Shot 2022 09 12 At 12.00.17 Am

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As you can see, the kingpin/steering axis about which your front tires turn goes through the lower ball joint (the upper ball joint is not shown here). If we extend the kingpin axis with an imaginary line all the way until it intersects the ground, we can measure something called the “scrub radius” which is the distance from the point at which the kingpin axis intersects the ground and the center of the tire contact patch.

You can visualize scrub radius by watching the video below; notice how the tire isn’t just spinning about a vertical axis going through its center (like a coin would if you flicked it on a tabletop — this has a zero scrub radius), it’s making a “sweeping” motion, the nature of which can be described by the scrub radius:

 

A Big Scrub Radius Sends Lots Of Forces Through The Steering Wheel. This Isn’t Good

When you apply the brakes in a car, the braking force together with the scrub radius creates a torque around the kingpin axis which tries to steer the suspension. What stops the suspension from actually steering is the steering system itself and the hands of the driver holding the wheel. You can visualize that in the picture above or below; if the ground pushes the tire rearwards at the contact patch, which is a few millimeters outboard of where the kingpin axis intersects with the ground, that tire will have a tendency to rotate, which will pull on the steering tie rod and send forces to the steering wheel. 

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Screen Shot 2022 09 11 At 11.55.59 Pm

In a similar way, we can measure the distance from the kingpin axis to the center of the wheel. This is called the “kingpin offset.” When you drive over a bump in the road or through a pothole, the force acting on the suspension actually happens at the center of the wheel (see the image above) and this force coupled with the kingpin offset also tries to steer the suspension. Again, the only thing stopping the suspension from actually steering is the steering system and the hands of the driver holding the wheel. This is felt as kick-back to the driver and if it’s bad enough can rip the wheel out of your hands. Some of you may have had that experience in the past.

How Reducing The Scrub Radius Leads To Flat Wheels

Of course, a suspension engineer can’t stop people from driving through potholes and over bumps in the road so the only thing the engineer can do to minimize the kick-back is to make the kingpin offset and the scrub radius as small as possible so that the overall torque around the kingpin axis is as small as possible. But, as with everything else, other things get in the way of achieving this. In particular, the brakes get in the way. The brakes also have to fit inside the wheel and this limits how far outboard we can put the lower ball joint. Let’s look at our cross section again but this time add in the brakes:

Screen Shot 2022 09 12 At 12.04.14 Am

Notice how close the lower ball joint sits to the brake rotor. If we wanted to push the kingpin axis further outboard to get a smaller scrub radius or kingpin offset, we would need to push the lower ball joint outboard which would push the brake rotor outboard as well. But look at the caliper. It sits right behind the spokes of the wheel. Moving the caliper outboard would mean pushing the spokes of the wheel outboard. You can see how trying to get a small kingpin offset and scrub radius has pushed the wheel outboard and made the outside of the wheel very flat.

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By now you’re probably saying “But hey! You said it was the steering system that caused flat wheels, not the brake system!” And you would be right.

Why Old-School Steering Systems Actually Want ‘Scrub Radius.’ And How Deep-Dish Wheels Help

Many years ago, before rack and pinion steering became popular, cars used a steering system called ball/nut, or sometimes called a steering box. This system worked on the principle of a worm gear to turn a sector shaft which was connected to a pitman arm. This was then connected to the steering tie rods with a track rod (sometimes called a center link) and an idler arm like this:

Screen Shot 2022 09 12 At 12.22.25 Am

And here is a look at the inside of an early steering gear, this one from a 1930’s era Packard:

Screen Shot 2022 09 12 At 12.24.21 Am

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In the early days of cars, before the advent of power steering, worm gears were a very effective and simple way of achieving the torque multiplication needed to convert the driver’s steering effort into the force needed to turn the suspension. Here is a good explanation of how worm gears work:

Unfortunately, while worm gears are very effective at torque multiplication, they do not like to be back-driven, meaning it is very difficult to turn a worm gear type steering box by pushing on the pitman arm (the output shaft). This is because the same concept that gives us torque multiplication when turning the input shaft (this, and big-radius steering wheels, is why old cars could make do without power steering) gives us torque reduction when pushing on the pitman arm. In other words, while it takes very little torque to spin a worm gear by turning the input shaft, it takes a massive amount of torque to spin a worm gear by turning the output shaft. It can be so difficult in fact, that any friction in the input shaft and between the teeth of the gears can be enough to lock the gears in place even when you let go of the steering wheel.

This characteristic can be very useful in a situation where you want to drive a mechanism to a specific position but don’t want it to be able to move back by itself. In a steering system, however, this principle is not very useful because it prevents forces from the tires and road from getting back to the driver. These forces represent the tires pushing back on the steering system and are what “steering feel” is all about. This is one of the reasons why the steering in those old cars often felt numb and devoid of any “feel.”

What saved the steering in those cars from being completely numb was the fact that the kingpin was very far inboard which made the scrub radius and kingpin offset very large. This had the effect of amplifying the braking and pothole forces and gave just a little bit of steering feel to the driver in spite of the numbing effect of the worm gear. Having the kingpin axis far inboard meant the brakes could be farther inboard which meant we could have nice deep dish wheels. 

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A significant development of the worm gear steering system was introduced by Cadillac in 1940 which was the recirculating ball steering.box. This design replaced the worm gear with a series of balls running in a track which formed the teeth of the gears. Here is a cross section of how this works:

Recircball

 

Notice how the balls form the teeth between the input shaft and a “nut” which slides back and forth. As you turn the steering wheel, the balls would roll inside their track and cause the nut to move with very little friction. The nut has teeth similar to a worm gear which engage with teeth in the output shaft. Since there is so little friction in the system it means it takes very little force to turn the gear normally, and forces coming back from the suspension have very little friction to overcome. The result was significantly better steering and steering feel, although by today’s standards it was still pretty abysmal. Still, it has been around ever since and is still in use today in some vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler.

For a long time, everyone was satisfied with the worm gear type steering box until someone decided to invent the rack and pinion steering gear. The rack and pinion gear has a simple gear, attached to the steering shaft, moving a toothed bar back and forth inside a housing, like this:

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Rackandpiniondiagram

 

As you can see, there is no worm gear in this design. The result is that forces coming back from the tires can very easily move the rack back and forth and turn the input shaft which can be felt by the driver without the numbing effect of a worm gear. Of course, there also wasn’t torque multiplication going on like there is in a worm gear so at first they were only used in very lightweight cars to keep the steering efforts from being too high. With the advent of power steering this situation changed, and now you see rack and pinion steering used all the way up to full size pickups.

With the loss of the torque multiplication, there was also an increase in the ability of the forces coming up from the tires to back-drive the steering gear, which is a main reason why rack and pinion was invented and why it is so dominant today. The ability of forces to feed back to the driver meant there was significantly more “feel” for what the tires were doing and where the limits of adhesion were. This made the act of driving much more engaging and made it much easier to drive at the limit. You could actually feel what was happening at the contact patch. For the last 40-50 years, all self respecting drivers cars have had rack and pinion steering as a result.

And So Wheels Became Flat When Rack And Pinion Came Around

At first, rack and pinion gears were being applied to existing suspension designs but since the tire forces were being “amplified” by the large kingpin offset and scrub radius in those old designs, they were too much for the driver to take and were ripping the steering wheel out of their hands. Something had to be done and since there will always be potholes and braking forces, the only thing that the engineers could do to reduce the forces coming back through the steering system was to reduce the size of the kingpin offset and scrub radius. This meant the lower ball joints had to move outboard, the brakes had to move outboard and all the dominoes started to fall which spelled the end of deep dish wheels.

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An excellent example of this is what happened with the Ford Expedition when it changed from ball/nut gear to rack and pinion in the early 2000’s. Here you can see the difference in the wheels before and after that change:

2000 Ford Expedition

Screen Shot 2022 09 14 At 2.10.00 Am

2004 Ford Expedition

2004 Ford Expedition Manu 4dr Suv 02

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Look at how deep the wheels on the 2000 model are and how flat they are on the 2004 model. This is because the rack and pinion steering in the 2004 model demanded a much smaller kingpin offset and scrub radius.

[Editor’s Note: If you look at Jeep’s first application of a rack and pinion steering system, the 2002 Jeep Liberty, you’ll notice that it, too, was accompanied by a transition to flatter wheels with more backspacing (5.5 inches versus 5.25). 

Here’s the Liberty, and here’s its predecessor, the Jeep Cherokee:

Cherokee Liberty

-DT]

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Aerodynamics Sometimes Plays A Role, Too

There is one final aspect of deep dish wheels that we need to consider to fully understand why wheels are now so flat: aerodynamics. In the age of maximizing efficiency both in internal combustion engines cars as well as EV’s, the need to smooth out the flow of air as a car moves forward has become of paramount importance. When a car is moving, air is being forced up, down and to the side by the shape of the car. The act of pushing air aside like this takes energy and that energy has to come from the fuel that is powering the car, whether that is gasoline, diesel, or electricity. 

The amount of drag or resistance a car has to moving through the air is measured by something called the Coefficient of Drag or Cd. Normal values of Cd for cars is on the order of 0.20 to 0.50, with 0.20 being exceptionally good while 0.50 is poor. The lower the Cd, the lower the aerodynamic drag and the less energy it takes to push the car through the air. A car’s Cd can be calculated from measurements made in a wind tunnel or calculated by a mathematical method called Computational Fluid Dynamics or CFD. Today, there are numerous software packages that perform CFD analysis and will calculate the Cd of a car and all OEM’s use this in their design process.

In order to reduce the aerodynamic drag of a car, the surface of the car must be as smooth as possible. Any minor protrusion or indentation can upset the airflow as it moves along the car and add to drag. This includes the wheels. Deep dish wheels present a pretty big indentation to the flow of air which the air must fill and flow around. Even with very flat wheels, the shape of the wheel spokes can make a large difference in how the air flows over and around the wheels. Here is an analysis of Tesla Model S wheels showing how filling in the space between the spokes reduces the Cd, in this case by 0.03. That may seem like a very small number, but it is a big deal. The total Cd of a Tesla Model S is 0.21 so a change of 0.03 represents a 12% reduction in the aerodynamic drag. That’s huge!

Tesla

Unfortunately, the wheel in the Tesla example above didn’t find much favor with customers because of its appearance and many similar aerodynamic wheels have what I would consider questionable looks, but I’m confident that the design community will fix this in due time and bring out flat wheels that are both aerodynamic and attractive. Here are some examples:

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Wheels2

Wheels

You can decide for yourself how attractive these wheels are but the point is that we now have another aspect of vehicle design that is pushing us to flat wheels.

So now you know why we just can’t have nice things. Personally, I hope Adrian Clarke and his designer colleagues never stop sketching cars with deep dish wheels. You never know, maybe some bright future engineer will figure out a way of making them a reality once again.

[Editor’s Note: Not all designers prefer dished wheels. Some commenters were wondering why the Jeep JK/JL Wrangler, which has an old-school steering box instead of a rack and pinion setup, has such flat wheels. As far as I know, this is largely a styling decision. -DT]. 

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Tagarito
Tagarito
1 month ago

Enjoyed rereading this, and discovered new details on the evolution of the steering system. Can deep dish wheels make a comeback thru motorized steering (steer by wire)? Thanks for the repost

100percentjake
100percentjake
1 month ago

Tesla, BMW, and many other modern cars kinda throw a lot of this out of the window with “virtual ball joints”, where the lower control arms connect to the knuckle in two different locations resulting in the actual point the tire pivots around existing where there cannot physically be a ball joint.

Goose
Goose
1 month ago
Reply to  100percentjake

There are certainly quiet a few ways around it. For example, something like Honda’s Dual Axis Strut could also be used, or just straight up using “conventional” suspension but with really odd geometry like a really excessive kingpin angle. However, most solutions out there are usually just more expensive and not worth the cost to solely get the look of dished wheels; but some also have other downsides like more wearing ball joints, wonky or just plain bad kinematics (like excessive kingpin, which also causes similar road feel amplification; but I can’t recall how much compared to scrub), compliance issues, NVH, or maybe most people just like more dull steering and the look of flat wheels, etc.

Last edited 1 month ago by Goose
BolognaBurrito
BolognaBurrito
1 month ago
Reply to  100percentjake

The guy writing this article used to be a Tesla suspension/chassis engineer… I think he’s well aware.

100percentjake
100percentjake
1 month ago
Reply to  Huibert Mees

I didn’t consider the effects on FWD cars. That is an interesting tradeoff.

Space
Space
1 month ago

After looking through the comments I remembered the spammers that used to be here, well done getting rid of them.

Laurence Lau
Laurence Lau
1 year ago

This article was shared on a Japanese web site.
It’s pretty much a translation of the original, but they did link to this article.

https://gigazine.net/news/20220918-car-wheels-flat/

Adam Rice
Adam Rice
1 year ago

In theory, at least, it seems that deep-dish rims could be accommodated by putting the kingpin axis at a sharper angle. This could also permit wider tires without moving them further into the wheelwell or changing the scrub radius.

I can kind of visualize why this might be bad for steering dynamics, but can you explain that for me?

Ian McClure
Ian McClure
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam Rice

Large kingpin angles increase the amount of force transmitted into the steering wheel when going over bumps. I.e. driving over a pothole will try to wrench the wheel out of your hands. So too much kingpin angle is undesirable.

It also causes camber increase as the wheel turns, but because this is in some cases desirable, that’s less of a factor.

PaulaHub
PaulaHub
1 year ago

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Derek Young
Derek Young
1 year ago

Great article! Do you think the requirements for low scrub radius or other suspension parameters like caster or SAI can now be reconsidered due to steer-by-wire coming online? If so, which ones can designers start messing with?

Memphomike
Memphomike
1 year ago

Now I understand why it made such a difference in steering feel when I removed the previous owner’s flat Centerlines from the front of my ’69 Dart and installed Cragar S/S’s to match the rears.
It also helped that I went from skinny 3 inch tires to 70-series.
Some scary times in the rain when I cranked the steering wheel for a curve pre-change and kept going straight with no feedback whatsoever.
I’m sure the previous owner didn’t care about steering feel when he was street racing between stoplights.

Vee
Vee
1 year ago

There’s one thing this article doesn’t go into. And that’s interior space and vehicle footprint. Older concave wheels cut into the interior room because the brakes, suspension mounting points, and steering components had to be further inboard. But if you offset the wheel hubs further out you can push those components further out and get better interior room in a smaller footprint. If you want a good visual example of this, notice how most of the wheels on compact and subcompact cars from the 1970s onwards were either flat face or convex. Ford Escort, Ford Focus, Dodge Neon, Dodge Omni, Mitsubishi Colt, Toyota Starlet, Mazda Familia, Chevrolet Cavalier, pretty much ever kei car ever made… Even older steelies bowed out from the rim to the center to be convex.

JDE
JDE
1 year ago
Reply to  Vee

Wheels are at the corners, not the interior areas, except maybe crappy hot hatches. In theory you could even say flat faces cause brake discs to be smaller to clear the inner lip and it puts the wheel mounting surface farther from the Bearing causing the fulcrum point too be larger and thus adding more stress to the bearing.

Vee
Vee
1 year ago
Reply to  JDE

For a MacPherson strut front suspension you can actually angle the strut to be a bit more horizontal and get the same travel but with shorter horizontal distance. This means you can narrow the wheel wells and stuff more things in between them, allowing you a wider but shorter engine bay. Quietly but to a really effective degree Chrysler did this with all their cars, including the Omni, the K-cars, and the Cirrus/Stratus/Breeze. And for wishbones it’s even better, because you can keep the same A-arm length and just mount it further inside the barrel of the wheel.

As an example, here’s image one with dual wishbone front suspension with the concave wheels:
https://i.imgur.com/V01VfVq.png

And here’s image two with the same suspension, but convex wheels:
https://i.imgur.com/tbzdYAG.png

Assuming that’s a sixteen inch wheel, that’s a gain of nearly an inch and a half in interior volume between the wheel wells and thus in the engine bay.

Sultan Qasim Khan
Sultan Qasim Khan
1 year ago

I will note that not all recirculating ball systems have bad steering feel. For example, the Mercedes W126 and W201 both had outstanding steering feel/feedback despite having recirculating ball steering boxes. I could precisely feel the steering effort building during cornering, they had excellently judged return to centre feel, I could precisely feel when I was approaching the edge of grip, when I hyroplane, etc.

Due to the tuning of power steering in their later models, their later rack and pinion based models (and really most modern rack and pinion cars) don’t have even half of the feedback those old recirculating ball based Mercedes-Benz models.

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
1 year ago

This is why I cringe when I see 90% of trucks and jeeps with aftermarket rims and tires with the wrong offset and size.

Every day I look out the window and see landscapers that make their living towing a loaded trailer around all day. 8 inch lift, (6 in the back cause you gotta love the ‘squat’) over sized- dished rims that stick out from the finders 6 inches, rubber band tires, and then a 12 inch drop draw bar down to the trailer.
Thing must drive like absolute crap.

BolognaBurrito
BolognaBurrito
1 month ago

Trucks and Jeeps are more likely to have recirculating ball steering boxes, so it would “matter” less. That being said, I think the Wrangler is the only Jeep to be using a recirculating ball, and I don’t know if any of the current half-tons are still using it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the 3/4-ton and up still used it.

Grey alien in a beige sedan
Grey alien in a beige sedan
1 year ago

The bigger question is how to pronounce Huibert’s first name. Us yanks in good ol’ ‘Murica, without thinking, might otherwise be obliged to say it like Hew-bert (rhymes with Q*Bert – which, IMO is pretty cool)… But I believe his to be a name with French origins pronounced using French syllables. So would that be pronounced more like Wee-bear? You need to help us out here. Maybe someday then, I’ll share with the world how to pronounce my youngest son’s name – which is Rokkë (no, I’m not making that up either. It’s possible that I came up with that name while robo-tripping naked in a forest in the dead of winter).

Otherwise, I really love your technical deep dives into the wonderful world of suspension, steering with just a hint of geometry sprinkled in. Cheers mate!

Phuzz
Phuzz
1 month ago

My friends named their latest kid Thibaut, (which is pronounced ‘Teebo’), but I have to look up how to spell it every time I write it. Or I just refer to him as T-Bizzle.

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
1 year ago

Yes that was the flat rims, but could we also talk about why everybody is making regular non sporty road cars with very low profile tyres?

I personally like a bit of air suspension built in to the tyres. I drive my Porsche 356 quite fast and sporty from time to time on 82 profile tyres. That works just fine.
My Figaro runs on 80 profile. Hasn’t let me down either.

Ron888
Ron888
1 year ago

Another interesting subject Huibert. Thanks for doing these! I learn at *least* one new thing every article.

As i’ve had a lifetime riding motorcycles i’m wondering if “headshake” can be an issue with cars. I’ve experienced it in at least one car so i know it’s possible (if very rare).
Is that something car engineers need to consider?Are there certain kingpin angles,etc that have to be avoided? Does it even matter now that every car has power steering?

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
1 month ago
Reply to  Huibert Mees

“Death Wobble” or “kingpin shimmy” — It can turn potholes and railroad level crossings into white-knuckle experiences…

Gary Lynch
Gary Lynch
1 year ago

It because the automotive society is turning into a bunch of weenies.

Back in the day…. Did we care about scrub radius and the like? No. Were were men. (And women too, they were always welcomed. A good car women is a highly valued person). We were after looks. And performance in a straight line. Steering geometry in a Chevellle SS? Why bother? They won’t handle either. For than matter neither would my clapped out ‘68 Mustang GT. Worn shocks and a front end gloat the Titanic would die for. But…. A nicely warmed 351, blown out glass packs and side exhausts. And…. Best of all…. Deep dish slotted mags. With the rear end held up with air shocks. Was in college, and the car was. Worn out box Tracy would have been proud of (except no visible rust, thanks to the magic of Bondo….)

The good old days….

Andrew Daisuke
Andrew Daisuke
1 year ago
Reply to  Gary Lynch

Sir this is the Arby’s drive through.

Paul B
Paul B
1 year ago

Never thought about the backdrive characteristics of a pitman arm setup. But it certainly explains my experience in driving school in the early 90’s. I did most of my hours in a Nissan 240sx, but one lesson I had the Ford Ranger. The minimal return to centre caught me off guard and I almost turned into the curb after a corner.

David Meyer
David Meyer
1 year ago

We need inboard brakes! It should be fairly doable in a car with front or all wheel drive. Maybe it would be easier in an electric car since the drive system doesn’t take up as much space as an engine?

NotSpanky
NotSpanky
1 year ago
Reply to  Huibert Mees

I thought I recalled a recent EV platform, possibly a retrofit or small scale build, that went with inboard brakes, but can’t find it now in the 2 minutes I was willing to spend searching.
I’m very helpful, I know.

Flatisflat
Flatisflat
1 year ago
Reply to  NotSpanky

The new Meyers Manx concept motor unit has ‘inboard brakes’ as they brake the drive unit directly (or something to that effect). But that is also a buggy, so under car airflow is ….substantial.

Defenestrator
Defenestrator
1 year ago
Reply to  NotSpanky

EVs can probably get away with less airflow on the rotors, since regen handles things like long downhills.

Phuzz
Phuzz
1 year ago
Reply to  Huibert Mees

I was just coming down to the the comments to ask this very question, so, thanks! 🙂

Mark Abel
Mark Abel
1 year ago

So I suppose that means that adding a little spacer between my hubs and wheels would increase feedback from the road? If so, seems like a pretty straightforward mod for anyone who feels like their steering is too numb.

FlavouredMilk
FlavouredMilk
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Abel

Oh, no no. This is not the lesson to be learnt here. Hub spacers are not an ideal solution to anything. They’re a compromise, they’re potentially very unsafe and have many negative effects compared to the single benefit of a slightly wider track.

The answer is lower offset wheels, that is all.

Hangover Grenade
Hangover Grenade
1 year ago
Reply to  FlavouredMilk

I don’t understand the hate for well-done wheel adapters. I’m talking the bolt-on kind,

I ran 50mm spacers on my w123 for YEARS without a problem. Daily driver, too.

Flatisflat
Flatisflat
1 year ago
Reply to  FlavouredMilk

Even then, a lower offset wheel has the same negative effect of increasing the scrub radius. I increased the scrub radius on my MINI some 17mm or so and, yeah, it’s not great…

Flatisflat
Flatisflat
1 year ago
Reply to  Flatisflat

(or, negatively affecting the kingpin offset, but maybe positively affecting the scrub radius) — either way, the net result is not entirely confidence inspiring steering feedback.

Fuhrman16
Fuhrman16
1 year ago

Somewhat related question regarding steering. Did the recirculating ball steering box make a bit of a comeback when electric power steering started becoming common like 10-15 years ago? I recall having a discussion with someone as to why electric power steering had less feel than the hydraulic systems that proceeded them and this was one of the reasons?

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
1 year ago

I dunno. My ’02 Silverado has fairly deep dish wheels and R&P steering. I think the 4WD version had a steering box, though.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
1 year ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

Well, if you look at the first diagram showing the kingpin axis, it would make sense that a taller tire would also reduce scrub radius. So trucks with larger diameter tires than cars, could, in theory at least, get away with less offset in the wheels than cars.

Automotiveflux
Automotiveflux
1 year ago

Had a bit of an Aha moment reading the worm gear portion of this. It’s no surprise that my worm gear driven snowblower auger refuses to turn unless the shaft from the engine (worm gear side) is turning. Looks like I’ll have to figure something out something else for my go kart build. Thanks

RussianCircusBear
RussianCircusBear
1 year ago

I guess I gotta save up for some teddy bear rims now

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
1 year ago

I remember being a kid and looking through the C&D magazines. At the end in the ad sections they always had wheels, and the teddy bears were always featured.

I understand that appeal, and I am sure they increase gas mileage.

Stratosrally
Stratosrally
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Wyman

Pirelli flat aero wheels with the stylized “P” logo running around the edge, for a more serious enthusiast look…

Derek van Veen
Derek van Veen
1 year ago

Ronal Bears FTW.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
1 year ago

I need those in my life.

-Tom-
-Tom-
1 year ago

As cool as they are, they arent as cool as the other Ronal wheels….the Michelin Mans!

https://ekhatch.wordpress.com/tag/michelin-man-wheels/

Stratosrally
Stratosrally
1 year ago
Reply to  -Tom-

Nice! Can’t believe that I missed those, having a aftermarket wheel fetish going way back… Tho’ I do prefer the subdued Pirelli “P” wheel.

Phuzz
Phuzz
1 year ago

I’m pretty sure you could get them as a factory option on VW Polos in the 90’s.

Mikan
Mikan
1 year ago

I think I’ve heard people talk about how flat wheels are associated with FWD, and dished wheels are associated with RWD among modern passenger cars that would all have rack-and-pinion steering.

Is that an over-generalisation, or is there some packaging reason that it is easier to have lower offsets without FWD running gear in the way?

Angry Bob
Angry Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Mikan

While reading this, I was thinking about the Camaro/Firebird which had a steering box from ’82-’92 and rack and pinion from ’93 to ’02. As this article would predict, the early cars came with deep dish wheels and the later cars had flat wheels. Now I understand why.

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
1 month ago
Reply to  Huibert Mees

I was going to ask this very question! Thanks!
The Toronado/Eldorado wheels were pretty cool in their own right. And GM did some nice, high-tech-looking alloy wheels on a number of their FWD cars through the late 80’s and the 90s.

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
1 year ago

This is all very good and interesting, but it leads me to wonder why JK and JL Wranglers don’t have the dished wheels of the XJ and TJ. All share the recirculating ball steering system. I feel ripped off! I demand answers! I want dished OEM wheels!

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
1 year ago

Agreed. And as someone running JL wheels on an XJ, I’m now wondering if I’d get better steering feel on different wheels.

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
1 year ago
Reply to  TXJeepGuy

Exactly. In the same way non-dished, flat sidewall tires are suited to rack and pinion, it seems unfair to slap that setup on my recirculating ball system because it’s in the minority. I also wonder what I’m missing out on. However, I’m too cheap to buy aftermarket wheels to find out. Plus, I prefer the OEM look.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
1 year ago
Reply to  TXJeepGuy

I thought the JL and XJ had different bolt patterns.

When I first got my CJ5 without power steering, I was expecting to have a lot more steering feedback to fight. I now understand why it doesn’t do that. Very interesting article.

David Tracy
David Tracy
1 year ago

Per my sources, it’s a styling preference.

Curbwatching
Curbwatching
1 year ago

This is a great explainer, but definitely for engineers, by an engineer.

I thought I’d just list all the terms a casual reader might not fully grok:
kingpin axis
upper and lower ball joints
double wishbone design
MacPherson strut
caster angle
scrub radius
steering tie rod
brake rotor
caliper
rack and pinion steering
steering box
worm gear
sector shaft
pitman arm
track rod
idler arm
torque multiplication
input shaft
output shaft
recirculating ball steering box

SquareTaillight2002
SquareTaillight2002
1 year ago
Reply to  Curbwatching

and grok

ExAutoJourno
ExAutoJourno
1 year ago
Reply to  Curbwatching

Those are SIMPLE!

What I didn’t get was “steering wheel.” Was he talking about the wheel that steers or the steered wheel? I won’t even get into the helper wheels at the other end of the car….

I would think an Ace Suspension Dude like Huibert would understand that some of us long for dished steelies, preferably with Baby Moons on ’em, and would design steering systems that feed our need.

Actually, was an excellent article. I learned things I didn’t know I didn’t know, and made it all pretty comprehensible.

Ryan Dutra
Ryan Dutra
1 year ago
Reply to  Curbwatching

They’re all labelled in diagrams and explained pretty well I think. Every article about cars can’t start with a chapter-long explainer of all the terms contained in the bulk of, now can it?

PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
1 year ago
Reply to  Curbwatching

He explains the important ones. If you need further information on what a brake rotor is go to your library and look it up in the encyclopedia.

Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
1 year ago

Encyclo what, now? This is a website for CARS, not velocipedes!

PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
1 year ago
Reply to  Gilbert Wham

This is a great point, but definitely for biologists, by a biologist.

I thought I’d just list all the terms a casual reader might not fully grok:

velocipedes

Derek van Veen
Derek van Veen
1 year ago

A velocipede is a human-powered vehicle (like a bicycle), not a velociraptor.

[insert ‘The More You Know’ gif here]

PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
1 year ago
Reply to  Derek van Veen

See I would have known that is I was a biologist

10001010
10001010
1 year ago
Reply to  Curbwatching

Waiting will fill

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 year ago
Reply to  10001010

Way fewer clicks than I expected for a Stranger In A Strange Land reference.
Are my cultural markers no longer relevant? Huh, well, yeah: came out in ‘61, so it’s pretty old.

unclesam
unclesam
1 year ago
Reply to  Curbwatching

These terms are all explained in his earlier articles, iirc

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