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The bolt pattern refers to a circular pattern which determines how lug holes are designed in the wheel. Different vehicles come with different types of bolt pattern in their wheels.
First, you need to understand what a lug hole is. You can see a big hole in the center of your wheel.
Around this large hub bore, you will find few holes that are smaller in size. These smaller openings are known as lug holes.
Lug holes are needed to attach the wheels to the vehicle. Lug bolts or lug nuts are attached in these lug holes. So by allowing lug bolts to fit in, lug wholes make sure that wheels are mechanically attached to the vehicle.
The pattern which dictates the formation of lug holes in the wheel is called bolt pattern. The bolt pattern tells us how many bolt holes are on the wheel and in what fashion they are designed in the wheel. It gives us the diameter of a theoretic circle formed by the centers of lug holes.
For example, a bolt circle of 5×120 refers to a 5 lug bolt pattern on a circle and the diameter of this circle is 120mm. It means that, your wheel has 5 bolts evenly spaced in a circle of 100mm diameter.
Why We Care About Bolt Patterns
If you drive your own vehicle, you must learn about the bolt patterns in your wheel.
You may ask, why should we learn about bolt pattern?
If you ever need to buy new rims for your truck, you should know about bolt patterns. Otherwise, you will end up wasting your money on the wrong variant. Because, different vehicles don’t come with the same bolt patterns.
Common bolt patterns are of 4, 5, 6 or 8 lug holes. But even two 6 lug holes bolt pattern can mismatch. If the diameter of the circle varies even for one millimeter, two rims won’t match. So, you need to know the difference before purchasing rims for your vehicle.
After learning the importance of bolt patterns, you might be looking for an easy way out. You probably want to know the right technique to measure bolt patterns effectively.
Wheels generally have 4-lug, 5-lug, 6-lug or 8-lug bolt patterns. The technique for measuring 4, 6 or 8 lug wheel is same. However, the measurement technique for odd number of lug pattern is difficult.
We will illustrate how to measure a 4-lug bolt patter and a 5-lug bolt pattern.
Measurement of a 4-Lug Bolt Pattern
A 4 lug bolt pattern means that the wheel has 4 lug hole spaced evenly on a circle. Remember, the diameter of circle may vary.
The measurement is easy. You need a scale or gauge. Measure from the center of one lug holes to the center of the other lug hole that is sitting right across the first one. In that way, we measure the distance from the centers of two bolt holes that are opposite to one another.
Measurement of a 5-Lug Bolt Pattern
The measurement of a 5 lug bolt pattern is a bit difficult. For accurate estimation, you need a wheel pattern gauge. Since the lug holes are not exactly across each other, the measurement is different.
In a 5-lug wheel, measure from the back side of one lug hole to the center of another lug hole that is sitting across the former lug hole. In this process, you will be skipping the hole that lies in between the two holes you are measuring.
On the other hand, 6 or 8 lug bolt patterns are measured from centrum to centrum of two opposite bolt holes, just like the 4-lug bolt pattern.
Some Added Tips in Conclusion
We need to warn you about adapters. Since many people are unaware of bolt patterns, they buy rims that do not match their vehicle. To cover the loss, they use adapters with the help of hand tools to adjust the mismatched rim in their vehicle.
This is very dangerous. Adapters just create an infirm spot for your rims to fit in the wheel. If you are using your vehicles for daily operation, adapters may lead to severe accidents. Thereby, we do not recommend adapters.
Another easy way to look for bolt pattern is to search in google using the make, model and production year of your vehicle.
That’s all about bolt pattern. Just as we differentiate standard and metric wrenches, prior to buying a rim next time, measure your bolt pattern first and buy the perfect rim for your vehicle.