So, this is a somewhat contentious subject. Wheel spacers have a mixed reputation. While some individuals think they’re quite safe and useful, others think they should never be used on any kind of vehicle.
Wheel spacers are the subject of numerous rumors regarding their safety, but when it comes down to it, we are convinced that you won’t run into many folks who have had issues utilizing wheel spacers.
If you’re wondering which side in this long-running argument is correct, the short and simple answer is that wheel spacers are perfectly safe to use and can be done by anyone.
We advise you to read on if you want a more thorough response to the issue “are wheel spacers safe?”
The Wheel Spacers: What are They In a Car?
Let’s first define wheel spacers so we can discuss their safety before moving on to the topic.
Wheel spacers are mostly used to assist a vehicle’s stance to become wider. This is mostly accomplished by leaving a little amount of extra space between each of the mounting flange places for the wheel and the inside face of the wheel.
In plainer terms, it indicates that the wheels are all shifted outward. This outward displacement will have a length equal to the thickness of the spacer.
Wheel spacers are available in a variety of diameters, bolt styles, and thicknesses. This makes it possible for everyone to choose a set of wheel spacers that meets their unique needs.
Wheel spacers come in a variety of readily available types. They all essentially accomplish the same purpose. They merely use a different method of attachment to the wheels of the vehicle.
The majority of the time, employing wheel spacers results in you having to purchase aftermarket lug nuts or wheel studs to have the proper thread engagements.
Alloy wheels on a car by Clément Bucco-Lechat / CC BY-SA 3.0. The main purpose of wheel spacers is to help a vehicle’s stance become wider. This is generally achieved by leaving a little amount of extra space between each of the wheel’s mounting flange locations and its interior face. That simply means that the wheels have all been pushed outward.
Wheel spacers add extra space between your wheels and the wheel studs on your car, which can prevent your wheels from rubbing against the brakes, wheel well liners, or other parts that support the suspension of the car. This is made possible since the tires will be placed further from the hubs.
What Purpose Do Wheel Spacers Serve to a Car?
Wheel spacers are primarily used when your vehicle’s wheels are offset in a way that is not ideal for the outcome you want. Whatever your excuse, whether it be that the axles are a little bit too thin or that the offset of your wheels is insufficient.
Whatever your purpose, you may position your wheels and tires under the fender of your car wherever you like with the use of wheel spacers.
What Different Kinds of Wheel Spacers are Available for Cars In the Market?
There are many wheel spacers available in a variety of styles if you are seeking them. Nonetheless, we’ve provided a list of some of the more typical ones you’ll encounter. As follows:
- Centric bolt-on hubs
- Centric bolt-on lugs
- Centric slip-on hubs
- Centric slip-on lugs
Compared to others, some of these will be safer for your car. This largely depends on how your vehicle’s weight is being distributed by the wheel spacers.
1. Wheel Spacers for Bolt-On
Wheel spacers that mount directly to the hub and mesh against it are known as bolt-on spacers. Also, using bolt-on wheel spacers has many advantages. One of the most significant benefits is that you won’t need to worry if your wheel studs are simply too short.
They typically provide a much tighter fitment than slip-on wheel spacers. Bolt-on-wheel spacers typically tend to only be specific for certain vehicles and utilize your existing studs due to the tighter fit that they offer.
Bolt-on-wheel spacers are secured to your wheels and hub with bolts before the wheels are bolted to the spacers. They are typically employed when modifications of 20 mm or even more are required.
Wheel Spacers for Bolt-On Hub-Centric
The hub-centric bolt-on wheel spacers are secure to use on your car and function exactly like your real wheels.
These wheel spacers can be bolted to the hub thanks to their design, which allows them to slip over the wheel studs. They also have a lip that makes it easier for them to fit around the car hub.
This wheel spacer can put all of the pressure back on the hub by doing it in this manner. Because the hub is the strongest point, this is advantageous.
Measuring an outside rim diameter by Rossog. Wheel spacers come in a range of thicknesses, sizes, and bolt types. This enables everyone to select a set of wheel spacers that suits their requirements. There are many easily available types of wheel spacers. In essence, they all achieve the same goal. They simply attach to the vehicle’s wheels using a different technique.
Wheel Spacers for Bolt-On Lug-Centric
Also, these wheel spacers are fastened directly to the wheel studs on your car. Wheel spacers with lug-centric bolts come with particular lug nuts that enable them to be placed on the vehicle.
Unfortunately, unlike hub-centric wheel spacers, lug-centric bolts do not have a lip, therefore they are unable to transfer all of the torque to the hub.
They force all of that torque to travel to the studs of your wheels rather than the hub. The lug nuts on this wheel spacer were not built by the manufacturer to support the whole weight of your car; instead, the hub was made to do so, making this type of wheel spacer more dangerous.
Several manufacturers occasionally create lug-centric bolts on wheel spacers, also referred to as “floating” wheel spacers, to assist vehicles that have smaller axles to get around this.
It is just not worth the risk, even though smaller vehicles with small axles might be able to support a little extra weight on the lugs.
Also, it can be challenging for you to center these wheel spacers onto the hub. While you might not notice this when driving at low speeds, you’ll almost certainly feel it when traveling at speeds of at least 60 mph.
You can just go out and buy wheel-centering rings and combine them with the spacers to solve this issue. This is an additional expense, though, and you could spend that money on the spacer itself to get something with far higher quality.
Are Bolt-On Wheel Spacers Safe to Be Used In a Car? Do They Provide Maximum Safety?
As long as your bolt-on wheel spacers have hub centric, you may expect a ton of safety from them. Simply make sure that you are correctly installing them by adhering to the manufacturer’s directions.
Furthermore bear in mind that your wheel well now needs to have enough space for your new lower wheel offset arrangement that you have going before you get on the road and start driving.
If the wheels are pushed out pretty far, there is a greater likelihood that your tires will rub on the fenders.
If this occurs to you, you might want to think about modifying or correcting your vehicle’s suspension geometry. This enables you to roll up or pull up your fenders and even adjust a portion of your negative camber.
2. Wheel Spacers for Slip-On
If you’re searching for something basic, slip-on wheel spacers are the best option. Once the spacers are in place, you just slide them over the existing wheel studs, reattach the wheel, and replace the lug nuts.
Even while slip-on wheel spacers have a much safer and simpler design, there are still a few things you may want to take into account. Soon, we will discuss those.
Wheel Spacers for Slip-On Hub-Centric
The hub-centric slip-on wheel spacers are made to simply slide over your car’s lug nuts. But in addition to that, they also have some grooves that enable them to be attached to the vehicle’s hub.
These grooves are advantageous because they may transfer all of the torque to the hub itself, as you might have guessed.
This makes it possible to relieve the wheel studs of a great deal of stress. Yet, you still need to check that the wheel studs are long enough to attach the lug nuts.
Wheels with Asanti 28 in (710 mm) rims by Stefan-Xp / CC BY-SA 3.0. To prevent your wheels from rubbing against the brakes, wheel well liners, or other components that support the suspension of the automobile, wheel spacers offer more distance between your wheels and the wheel studs on your car. Since the tires will be positioned farther from the hubs, this is made possible.
But, if there is enough exposed thread, there is nothing to be concerned about. It ought to be rather safe.
Wheel Spacers for Slip-On Lug-Centric
These wheel spacers are directly fitted to your car’s lug nuts. Because of this, lug-centric slip-on wheel spacers tend to place all of your car’s weight on the lug nuts.
Checking if it has notches for the hub is one of the most important ways to distinguish between a lug-centric and a hub-centric wheel spacer.
It is safe to say that lug-centric slip-on wheel spacers are dangerous because they lack those notches. This is because the wheel studs are under a lot of stress as a result of these wheel spacers.
Are Slip-On Wheel Spacers Safe to Be Used In a Car? Do They Provide Maximum Safety?
The answer is straightforward: slip-on wheel spacers are safe as long as everything is put correctly and in the right order. assuming that the spacers you are using are hub-centric rather than lug-centric.
The lug nuts on your car need to have enough exposed thread for you to safely reinstall the wheel, so that is the first thing you need to check. Make sure you can spin the lug nut at least ten times before it becomes tight.
If you discover that there is not enough exposed thread, you should either choose a smaller wheel spacer or purchase extended studs. As a result, 15 mm slip-on wheel spacers are readily available, as are generally slimmer designs.
If you discover that you need to use longer wheel studs, be sure to purchase an installation tool. In addition to ensuring that your new studs are not harmed, using an installation tool will allow you to complete the installation more quickly.
What are the Advantages of Using Wheel Spacers In Terms of Safety
We are already aware of the purpose of wheel spacers, which is to extend the distance between a vehicle’s wheels to reduce wheel offset. Moreover, you can profit from:
1. Grip and Traction are Better
The width of a vehicle’s wheelbase will determine how much grip and traction it will provide you. A vehicle that is currently out of stock can have its performance improved with the use of wheel spacers.
Wheel spacers are frequently employed in many racing scenarios and competitions for this reason, which is one of the main ones.
2. A Suitable Fit for the Wheels
As time passes, an increasing number of drivers and auto enthusiasts, in general, are paying close attention to employing aftermarket tires and even custom wheels.
When you are driving, you will frequently encounter suspension and frame interference if your wheels do not have the right offset.
The tire wheel of the Subaru BRZ S by Tokumeigakarinoaoshima / CC BY-SA 4.0. Wheel spacers are generally employed when the offset of your vehicle’s wheels makes it difficult to get the desired results. Regardless of your justification, whether it be that the wheels’ offset is insufficient or that the axles are a little bit too thin. Wheel spacers allow you to place your wheels and tires under the fender of your automobile wherever you choose, no matter what your objective.
Using wheel spacers is perhaps one of the simplest ways to ensure that the wheels are fitted properly. Particularly in off-road-capable vehicles or even just trucks in general.
3. Improves the Vehicle’s Aesthetics
Many drivers and auto enthusiasts nowadays think that employing wheel spacers will enable them to improve the visual appeal of their automobiles.
In the majority of automobiles, a wheelbase that is broader than the one the car originally had is just inherently more attractive.
It gives the automobile a somewhat attractive, edgy, and aggressive appearance that works well for some cars, especially Jeeps, SUVs, and a wide range of trucks.
This style will enhance the appearance of your vehicle if you have a large truck or a larger vehicle overall.
What are the Disadvantages of Using Wheel Spacers In Terms of Safety?
As you can anticipate, everything has a few drawbacks in addition to its benefits. Some drivers and auto enthusiasts avoid using wheel spacers altogether due to some of their drawbacks. The most typical drawbacks of employing a wheel spacer are outlined below.
1. Occasional Wheels Vibration
Manufacturers of various cars often engineer and test all of their models to make sure they provide the highest level of drivability and the finest possible driving experience.
They may accomplish this by ensuring that the front end of the car has the right geometry for each model they produce.
This explains why adding wheel spacers to your car can cause excessive vibrations from the wheels. This is because wheel spacers alter your vehicle’s dimensions and all pertinent angles.
2. Quicker Wear of Wheel Components
The factory-installed parts for the wheels and the entire car are evaluated and built so that the stock configuration of the car can give you the best possible service.
But, you must keep in mind that when you widen a vehicle’s wheelbase, the operational strain on all of these components increases. As a result, parts like the hubs, axles, and bearings wear out more quickly.
This enhanced rate is more than what you would anticipate or obtain from the vehicle’s complete factory stock model when no wheel spacers are used.
3. Questions Relating to the Fenders’ Interference
The majority of frame and suspension problems may be resolved with wheel spacers, as we’ve already discussed. Yet, while helping you with these problems, they may also wind up causing additional problems with your car’s fender.
The factory-designed clearances for the wheel and fender are decreased as a vehicle’s wheelbase is stretched and its offset is raised.
This frequently results in damage to the fenders or causes the tire to brush up against it, causing additional damage.
To What Extent are Wheel Spacers Safe to Be Used In Cars?
Wheel spacers can be thought of as being relatively safe as they do not add to the weight of the car as the wheel studs do. But, you should keep in mind that even if they may have a safe application, improper installation could easily lead to severe results.
Magnesium alloy wheel on a Porsche Carrera GT by Nrbelex / CC BY-SA 2.5. Bolt-on spacers are wheel spacers that attach directly to the hub and mesh with it. Bolt-on-wheel spacers provide other benefits as well. The fact that you won’t have to worry if your wheel studs are simply too short is one of the biggest advantages. Compared to slip-on wheel spacers, they often offer a considerably tighter fit.
A clamping force between the wheels and their corresponding hubs holds a vehicle’s wheels together. All of the wheels’ lug nuts must be tightened to do this.
By doing this, the entire force may be transferred through the vehicle’s hubs. So, you may rest easy knowing that the weight of the car is not supported by the wheel spacers, regardless of the type you use.
Wheel spacers can be viewed as nothing more than an extension of the stock hub faces on the car.
Always keep in mind that having wheel spacers properly fitted on your car will not only make it look good visually but will also make it much safer than it would have been with the standard setup of your car.
Are Wheel Spacers Safe to Use for Both Driving and Racing Experiences?
As we previously indicated, they will give you the best driving experience if you install them appropriately. It frequently exceeds the performance of your car in stock form.
As you will have a wider track on the axles where your spacers are fitted, you may notice when driving around town that your car feels more stable when you are cornering.
Although it’s possible that you won’t notice much of a difference when driving regularly, you’ll notice a positive difference when you’re in the mountains.
You should be aware that you might not feel as balanced in your car’s handling if you install wheel spacers for daily driving or cosmetic reasons.
You must select hub-centric wheel spacers for the track when you are racing. Since you will be turning at a high rate of speed on the track, the lug-centric wheel spacers run the risk of clipping off completely.
You can anticipate some potentially fatal consequences in the absence of hub-centric spacers.
What Factors Do You Need to Consider Before Deciding to Install Wheel Spacers on Your Car?
There are a few factors to take into account when looking for the best wheel spacers.
1. The Benefits and Usefulness of Spacers for Rims
There are many different reasons why someone might wish to add wheel spacers to their car. Some people just do it because they like the way they appear.
After all, any Jeep or off-road vehicle can look better with a longer wheelbase. Several people might have significant obligations that necessitate daily long-distance travel.
Wheel spacers can make your journey more enjoyable and productive. Although it should be straightforward to get a hub-centric spacer that is substantial and designed for huge vehicles, you might find that maneuverability is more crucial than strength.
It is simple to choose the wrong lug nuts. You can choose the biggest, sexiest-looking lug spacer without understanding whether your car is hub-centric in design.
Selecting the best lug nuts for your needs may be made easier if you are aware of your situation and the goals you have for your car.
2. The Durability Associated with the Use of Spacers for Rims
You need something that can withstand rugged terrain and 500 miles of difficult driving. The wheel they are connected to may be in danger if your wheel spacers quickly wear out or break.
Wheel alignment of a Ford Focus by Mike Peel / CC BY-SA 4.0. The stock hub faces on the automobile can be seen as nothing more than an extension of the wheel spacers. Always keep in mind that your automobile will be considerably safer than it would have been with the usual setup if wheel spacers are correctly installed. This will not only improve the aesthetics of your car.
You run the danger of getting wounded if you do this. If you don’t want to check your wheels every hundred miles or so, make sure they are sturdy.
3. Warranty Included with Rim Spacers
You’ll need to have a plan in place in case the wheel spacer doesn’t work despite your efforts. Wheel spacers must be purchased from authorized dealerships.
This is because they frequently have a longer guarantee, one that is reasonable given the cost and kind of wheel spacer being purchased.
The typical period is two years, though occasionally a five-year guarantee will be offered. If you know where to look, that is. Consider using a different brand or retailer if the spacer’s warranty is missing.
Rims Spacers Installation Guide: How Can You Go About It?
Wheel spacer installation is a simple process. Using the right wheel spacer is the key to making it simple.
Your car or truck should be parked on a level surface. Loosen the lug nuts holding the wheel to the hub.
The car should be raised by placing a floor jack under it in the designated location. Your car should now be on the jack stand.
Up until you encounter a jack stand, repeat this process on each of the four corners.
Get rid of the lug nuts. The wheels should be taken out of the hub and put aside. Spray degreaser on the lug studs and wipe them down to get rid of any dirt or debris.
Use a wire brush to clean the threads if they are unclean. The hub area where the wheel fits should be cleaned.
Slide the wheel spacer over the studs if it’s not a bolt-on design. Place the spacer so that its holes line up with the holes in the wheel studs, and then press it down until it is securely against the hub.
Certain automobiles (like BMWs) use lug bolts that are placed inside the hub. In this case, line up the holes in the spacer with those in the hub.
Install the bolt-on wheel spacer on the studs if it is that style. Use lug nuts to secure the spacer to the hub.
If the bolts are not fastened with the spacer, the nuts that hold the spacer to the bolts can be purchased at auto parts stores.
Tighten the nuts holding the spacer in place per the guidelines provided in the instructions. This torque is presumably in the range of 90 foot-pounds.
Using the lug wrench, attach the lug nuts (or lug bolts) and tighten them. Repeat for each additional corner of the car.
Slide the floor jack under the automobile and lift it to get rid of the jack supports that are underneath.
Chrysler alloy wheel by Angela2109. Wheel spacers can only be bought from licensed dealerships. This is because their warranties are typically longer and are reasonable given the price and type of wheel spacer being purchased. Although a five-year guarantee is occasionally provided, the normal duration is two years. That is if you know where to look. If the spacer’s warranty is absent, think about utilizing another brand or reseller.
One by one, bring the car’s four corners closer to the earth.
Use a torque wrench to tighten the lug nuts in a crisscross, star pattern. Tighten them to the manufacturer’s suggested range of 70 to 90 foot-pounds, depending on the vehicle. Check the lug nuts’ tightness after 100 miles of driving.
Facts About Wheel Spacers: A Summary of What You Need to Know Before Installing Then on Your Wheels
Wheel spacers are aftermarket components that add extra space between your car’s wheel and hub to enhance handling and performance under certain circumstances.
If a reputable brand is purchased and installed correctly, they are often safe, but improper sizing or installation can harm the vehicle.
With the use of larger wheels, tires, and brake calipers, wheel spacers can enhance a vehicle’s handling, grip, and cornering.
These are inexpensive and simple alterations, with a good set often costing approximately $125.
Wheel spacers are an upgrade in style because they have a direct impact on a vehicle’s appearance and performance.
On the other hand, they may eventually result in additional damage to the suspension parts due to increased wear and tear, worse ride quality, and more steering effort.
Finding a repair that guarantees their work may be challenging when employing wheel spacers or any aftermarket component owing to liability concerns.
Wheel spacers may make it so that tires don’t rub against the fenders or wheel wells, which is harmful and may harm the tires or other parts of the car.
It is necessary to remove the wheels, slide the spacers onto the same bolts as the wheels, and tighten the nuts to the appropriate torque specifications to install wheel spacers properly.
It is crucial to confirm that the car’s fenders or wheel wells comply with local rules before installing wheel spacers.
Before having wheel spacers fitted in your car, you should be aware of everything there is to know about them.
Are spacers for wheels safe? They are, provided you install them properly. We sincerely hope you found this advice useful.
Jim Wicks is the founder of MotorVehicleHQ. With over two decades of experience in the automotive industry and a degree in Automotive Technology, Jim is a certified car expert who has worked in various roles ranging from a mechanic, car dealership manager, to a racing car driver. He has owned more than 20 cars over the past 15 years. Ask him about any vehicle you see on the road and he can tell you the make, model and year. He loves the aesthetics of all things cars, and keeps his vehicles in pristine condition.
In his free time, Jim enjoys getting his hands dirty under the hood of a classic car or taking long drives along the country roads. His favorite car? A 1967 Shelby GT500, a true classic that, according to Jim, “represents the pure essence of American muscle.”