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Most cars come with stock wheels that have very high positive offset.

Why was this design choice taken? Does it improve fuel economy or make it cheaper to manufacture?

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Positive offset allows the steering axis to move toward the centerline of the tire. This dimension, the distance of the centerline of the tire to the steering axis, is called the scrub radius.

A 0 or near zero scrub radius can minimize road forces feeding back through the steering. Imagine putting on high negative offset wheels, or even spacers, that move the tire outward from the car. Now the steering motion won’t just rotate the tire about its own axis (as it would with a zero scrub radius), it will also swing the tire fore and aft. So hitting something like a pothole pushes backwards against the tire, which is felt in the steering.

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