Best Wheels Spacers

When and Why You Might Need Wheel Spacers

Wheel spacers are metal devices that allow vehicle owners to fit wider and larger tires. They increase the clearance between the wheel and the hub. Installing your wheels farther from the hubs help to increase traction, give the vehicle an industrial and rugged look, update its off-road status, and allows it to roll over debris with ease. Overall, you get improved performance and capable riding experience.

 

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Benefits of Using Wheel Spacers

  1. Improve your car’s handling capabilities,
  2. Beef up the look of your car.
  3. Allow you to install larger tires.
  4. Provide a much-needed wheel balance.

How Wheel Spacers Work

A wheel spacer is fixed onto the axle. This is normally where the wheel should go. The wheel is then mounted onto the spacer rather than the wheel hub. This makes the wheel sit a little farther outwards, away from the car’s body. Typically, wheel spacers increase the distance between your wheels and the wheel hubs.

Such an installation allows the car owner to add larger wheels and tires which then give the car a bolder and distinguishing look. It also helps to keep the brake calipers and wheel wells from getting into contact with the rim and tires. This is possible no matter what size of car you have. Spacers are also available in different colors and come in a variety of sizes to add the exact clearance required.  

Types of Wheel Spacers

Bolt-On

Bolt-on wheel spacers are bolted to existing studs to attach them onto the hub. Buyers need to countercheck these when buying to make sure that they match their lug nut patterns and wheels.

Slip-on

Slip-on wheel spacers are fixed onto the studs to leave space for your wheels to get back on. Sometimes, the space left is not enough. This may be due to a slight or huge difference between the size of the wheel spacer and your wheels. As a result, you may not be able to securely fasten your lug nuts. This normally calls for extended studs that feature slip-on spacers that fasten the wheels in place.

Steel vs Aluminum

Wheel spacers are made with either steel or aluminum. Steel spacers are heavier than those made from aluminum and are normally used in cars that have a lot of power. The extra power gives them enough strength to deal with the additional weight put by the wheel spacers. This makes sure that the car does not slow down in any way.

Aluminum wheel spacers are built to be equally rugged. There are very few metals available today that can match Aluminum’s ability to combine strength and lightness. The metal is just as strong as others that weight up to three times as much. It’s also durable and corrosion-resistant.

How to Choose the Proper Size of Wheel Spacers for your Vehicle

Bolt Pattern

Bolt pattern refers to the wheel studs, lugs or actual bolts where your rim is mounted on. It refers to the studs that accommodate your nuts. These studs normally make a circle consisting of between 4 and 8 bolts. The rim will have an equal number of holes where the bolts slide into.

The bolt pattern is defined by the distance between these bolts. There are several cars out there that have a 6-lug bolt pattern. What differentiates their bolt patterns is the fact that they do not all line up the same way. A millimeter can make a huge difference between them. It would prevent one type of 6-lug rim from fitting all of them.

The best tool to use when trying to determine your bolt pattern is a bolt pattern gauge. Bolt patterns are measured from one bolt to another. The measurement cuts across. A 4-lug vehicle is measured differently compared to a 5-lug vehicle. For the latter, you’ll measure the distance between one bolt and the space that’s across it. This is because you’ll rarely find a 5-lug vehicle with bolts sitting right across each other. For a 4-lug vehicle, all you need to do is measure the distance between one bolt and the one sitting right across it.

Thickness

Wheel spacers are available in a wide variety of sizes. The most common types vary by 1/8 of an inch and go all the way to 1 inch and more. Buyers need to be absolutely certain of the thickness they need before buying a wheel spacer. This is because a difference or ¼ inch can break a fitment.  

You can make a wild guess of how much further your wheels need to sit after measuring your wheel and tire combination. While this is easy, it may not deliver consistent results. You could also try to buy a number of wheel spacers and try them out. Unfortunately, wheel spacers aren’t that cheap.

To start you off, get a box of washers. These can be obtained from the nearest hardware. You may already have them on your shelf if you’re a handyperson. Use flat metal washers, not plastic, split, or lock washers. They should have a hole large enough for your car’s lug bolts or wheel studs to pass through.

The average washer has an inner diameter slightly larger to provide for tolerance. Thickness varies between 1/16 and 3/16 of an inch. Pick washers that are of the same diameter and thickness. A box of 50 washers should be enough.

If your vehicle runs on wheel nuts, start by placing one or two washers on every stud. Test-fit your wheel as you do this. Remember to keep an eye on your wheel/caliper clearance. Add or remove washers where you need to adjust the clearance. Do this until you achieve the right number of washers representing the thickness you need.

If your vehicle is fitted with lug bolts, you’ll need to slide the wheel bolts into the wheel. Place a washer onto each bolt from the back side of the wheel. Keep the wheel in a vertical position to prevent the washers from dropping off. Add and remove the washers as you test-fit the wheel. Do this until you achieve the thickness that you want. This thickness represents that of the wheel spacers that you need.

How to Properly Install the Wheel Spacers

Items you’ll need

  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands
  • Rags
  • Lug wrench
  • Degreaser
  • Torque wrench

Steps

  1. Pack your vehicle on a level surface. Loosen all the wheels and jack the car. You can use jack stands to support each end of the car.
  2. Remove your wheels and set them away for a short while. Use a wire brush to rid the lug studs of any dirt and to clean the threads. You can also clean the hub surface of any dirt. Spray degreaser on the studs once you’re done.
  3. Fit the first wheel spacer onto the wheel stud. This is if you’re using slip-on wheel spacers. Make sure it sits firm against the wheel hub.
  4. Tighten the lug nuts to fix the spacer into place. This should be done to the specified torque which ranges between 70 and 90 food pounds. The wheel spacers should have come with sets of bolts for each. In case they didn’t, you can get the right bolts at your nearest auto parts store.
  5. Install your wheel and make sure it sits securely against the space. Fasten the lug nuts or bolts in a star or crisscross pattern using a lug wrench. Do this for all the other wheels.
  6. Use the floor jack to lift the vehicle so that you can remove the jack stands. Lower your car and make sure it gets safely to the ground.
  7. It’s advisable to check your wheel spacers after driving for the first 20 to 50 miles. This is to ensure that they are still safely secured and functioning well. You should also check the tightness of the lug nuts after the first 100 miles.

Hub centric rings

Hub centric rings are devices installed between the rim and the wheel hub to fill the gap left between the center bore of the rim and the wheel hub. You may need to use these when installing your wheel spacers. Typical hub centric rings are made of industrial plastic which is highly durable.

FAQ

Are wheel spacers safe?

Yes. Wheel spacers are as safe as your factory wheels when properly installed. The most common cases of failures are due to installation issues. These may include incorrect torque values or wrong hub bore fitments (spacer to hub or wheel to spacer). You should experience no problem if your spacer, hub, and wheels are installed correctly.

Are wheel spacers legal?

Yes. There are no federal laws in the United States that prohibit the use of wheel spacers on roads. Wheel spacers are also not regulated by the Department of Transportation. Provided that they are installed correctly, they are legal. The same applies in the UK. It should be noted, however, that wheel spacers are not legal in Australia.

Automotive Guides and Reviews

Wheels & Tires Car Parts

Tires
Wheels
Caliper Covers
Wheels Spacers
Wheel Adapters
Hub Caps
Tire Chains
TPMS Sensors
Spare Tire Covers
Center Caps
Hub Centric Rings
Lug Nuts & Locks