How To Measure Wheelbase

How To Measure Wheelbase

It’s obvious that cars come in all shapes and sizes, but in some cases, these factors are directly related to how your vehicle performs on the road.

In particular, length can have an effect on your driving, and that doesn’t just mean the bumper to bumper measurement.

The wheelbase of your car affects almost every aspect of how it handles and how big the interior is.

The space between a vehicle’s wheels has a significant impact on how it rides, handles, and can also affect how well it performs off-road.

It’s equally crucial to understand how to take that measurement as it is to understand its meaning.

Fortunately, it’s a simple task that anyone can complete with a few basic tools and a location in a safe parking lot. And we’re here to give you step-by-step instructions.

What Is A Wheelbase?

The wheelbase of a vehicle is a measurement of the space between its wheels, more specifically, the space between each wheel’s centers.

Imagine a line running from the center cap on your front wheel to the center cap on your back wheel.

Beyond the length, your car’s wheelbase greatly affects how it drives and how much interior space you have.

What You’ll Need To Measure Your Car’s Wheelbase

For the wheelbase measurement of your car, not much is needed. In truth, you most likely already own all you need to begin.

These are the tools you’ll need to get the job done:

  • Chalk
  • Tape measure
  • Square measure

Organize your tools so they’re close by and easy to reach. Additionally, you’ll require a level workspace, such as a garage floor, a driveway, or on-street parking. 

Be sure to check your local regulations so you don’t violate any codes when using the street to carry out this task.

Top Tips For Measuring Wheelbase

It’s not difficult to figure out your car’s wheelbase, but there are a few considerations to make the process go as smoothly as possible:

  • Get your square’s angle as close to perpendicular to the wheel as you can. It might make your wheelbase measurement appear longer or shorter than it is if it is turned in either direction.
  • Don’t dismiss it if you see a measurement disparity between the two sides of your car. Your car may chew through tires more quickly or may be more difficult to steer on the road if one side is longer or shorter than the other.
  • The best places to measure your wheelbase are flat, smooth surfaces like a garage floor or paved driveway since they make it easier to see the chalk.
  • Make sure you check the sticker inside your driver’s side door jamb to compare your measurements to the manufacturer’s specifications.

    You should be able to discover the OEM’s wheelbase figures there along with the recommended tire pressures (see also ‘How To Check Tire Pressure Without Gauge‘) and the country of production of your car.

How To Measure Your Car’s Wheelbase

How To Measure Your Car’s Wheelbase

It’s important to note that you can measure directly from wheel to wheel without making chalk marks if you only want a general estimate of the wheelbase, but you’ll probably need a helper to hold the other end to get an accurate reading.

You can use chalk to measure with a little bit more accuracy by yourself.

So, here’s how to do it:

  1. Position the car on as level a surface as you can. The measurements you take may fluctuate if you are on an uneven or steep surface.
  2. Make sure the car is in gear or in park and apply the parking brake (see also ‘How To Use Paddle Shifters‘). Make sure the front wheels are straight and adjust the steering wheel (see also ‘What Causes Death Wobble?‘).
  3. Take your square measure and place it against the wheel, ensuring that the vertical axis is as close as possible to the center of the center cap.
  4. With your chalk, draw a line on the ground where the square’s base meets the road.
  5. Use a second square to make sure that you aren’t over- or under-measuring if you’re unsure of the angle or think you won’t be able to align at a perpendicular angle to the wheel.
  6. Leave two chalk marks on the ground, one for the front wheel and one for the back.
  7. Measure the distance between the two chalk marks using your tape measure. This is the length of your wheelbase.
  8. To explore and identify any alignment or tire wear issues, make the same measurements on the opposite side of the car.

    A body shop may be required to fix the issue if the wheelbases don’t line up on one side or the other.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Typical Wheelbase For Different Types Of Cars?

In order to provide more comfort and improve rear legroom, luxury cars typically have longer wheelbases.

On the other hand, hatchbacks have a shorter wheelbase, which makes them more maneuverable, enables them to jump through curves, and provides a thrilling ride.

There are, of course, always exceptions, like some front-engine sports cars with longer wheelbases that allow the engine to be positioned behind the front axle for improved weight distribution.

Is A Longer Wheelbase Better?

This depends on what you’re attempting to do.

A car with a long wheelbase is good if you want a smooth ride and lots of interior space, but if you want something quick and agile, a car with a shorter wheelbase is probably the best option.

Is It Possible To change A Car’s Wheelbase?

The wheelbase of a car can be altered, although it takes some work.

The wheelbase of your car affects everything, including the suspension and exterior bodywork (see also ‘How To Debadge A Car‘), so altering it necessitates altering everything else.

For example, to accommodate the altered distance to the drive wheels, the vehicle’s frame rails would need to be reduced or lengthened.

In the case of rear-drive cars, engine components like the driveshaft would also need to be adjusted.

Final Thoughts

With this guide, you’ll easily be able to measure your car’s wheelbase.

All you need is a few simple tools and a flat surface to get the right measurements and determine the length of your car’s wheelbase.

Dave Oliver

Dave Oliver is a seasoned car modification expert with over twenty years of experience in the field. His knowledge spans from restoring vintage models to implementing the latest customization technologies. He brings his passion and expertise to life through informative and engaging articles.

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