How to Correctly Measure a Rear Wheel Track

Written by mary lougee
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How to Correctly Measure a Rear Wheel Track
Measure the track width of a vehicle to determine if it will safely fit on a trailer. (CAR image by Edvin selimovic from

The rear wheel track of a vehicle is the width between the centres of each rear tire. Measuring the wheel track is important to determine if a car or truck will fit on a trailer for transportation or on a hydraulic car lift to make repairs underneath the vehicle. Crime scene investigators measure the track width of skid marks at an accident scene to determine what type of car was involved in a hit-and-run accident.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Wheel chocks or bricks
  • Jack
  • Jack stands
  • Measuring tape

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  1. 1

    Park the vehicle on a flat surface. Engage the emergency brake. Place a brick or wheel chock in front of each front tire to prevent the vehicle from rolling.

  2. 2

    Place a jack under the rear end of the vehicle and raise it high enough to place a jack stand on the left and right sides of the rear axle to support the vehicle. Release the jack handle to allow the jack stands to bear the weight of the vehicle. If you are able to reach under the bumper and gain access to both rear tires, you can disregard this step.

  3. 3

    Place the tip of a measuring tape on the centerline of the left rear tire. Stretch the measuring tape to the centerline of the right rear tire. Read the measurement to obtain the vehicle's rear track width.

  4. 4

    Raise the jack under the rear of the vehicle if you put it on jack stands in Step 2. Pump the jack handle to raise the vehicle slightly higher than the jack stands. Pull each jack stand out. Release the handle to lower the car to the ground.

  5. 5

    Remove the wheel chocks or bricks holding the front tires in place.

Tips and warnings

  • The centerline of a tire may have a thick line of tread or it may have a "V" pattern, depending on the type of tire. If you cannot determine the exact centre of the tires by the tread pattern, measure the width of one tire and divide by two. Then, measure off that result and mark with a chalk stick. Repeat for the tire on the other side. Take a measurement between the two chalk marks to determine the rear track width.
  • Note that front and rear track width generally are not the same on a vehicle.

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