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I'm buying rims for winter tires, what's the difference between multifit and hub-centric?

I'm buying a second set of rims for my winter tires and I have been asked if I want hub-centric or multifit rims. What is the difference?

Multifit rims are designed so that a single product will fit as many different applications as possible. Aftermarket manufacturers can then offer a value line that provides maximum vehicle coverage with the least amount of differing product.

Alternatively, hub-centric rims are designed to closely resemble original equipment and provide a tighter tolerance fit with minimal chance of high-speed wobbles and/or shakes.

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So what does hub-centric mean?

Most drivers have, at one time or another, changed a flat tire and know that their wheel is placed on the studs, and the wheel nuts are tightened to hold the wheel in place. What they may not have noticed is the mounting flange built into the vehicle's wheel hub, which aids them as they tighten the wheel, centring it precisely. All original equipment wheels are hub-centric and mate directly to this mounting flange. The intent of the studs and nuts is to secure the wheel only while the hub-to-wheel contact carries the weight of the car. Multifit rims do not contact the hub, resulting in the studs having to do all the work.

Many drivers use multifit rims for years with little trouble. However, as we march into the era of large-diameter rims and tires, fitment and drive-ability issues are becoming more of an issue. The additional cost for hub-centric products are minimal and worth consideration.

Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail globedrive@globeandmail.com, placing "Lou's Garage" in the subject area.

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