Vehicle enthusiasts spend a great deal of money on customizing the look and performance of their vehicles, with the use of wheel spacers becoming increasingly popular in recent times.
But what are wheel spacers, and are they really good for your car? If you’ve been wondering about this, keep reading this article to learn all you need to know about wheel spacers!
What Are Wheel Spacers?
Wheel spacers are round discs installed between the mounting hubs and wheels of a vehicle. Installing wheel spacers pushes the wheels outward and results in better aesthetics, improved handling, and greater brake clearance. They are mostly made of billet aluminum and can have thicknesses ranging from 3mm to 23mm.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of using wheel spacers, whether wheel spacers will damage any component of your vehicle and much more, keep on reading!
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Wheel Spacers?
Wheel spacers have gained tremendous popularity in the car afterparts market, but they can be a huge nuisance to vehicle owners if they’re misused.
So, before you decide to get wheel spacers installed in your car, you should understand the pros and cons of doing so, such as the following:
- Better stability and handling performance of the vehicle
- More stopping power due to a larger brake clearance
- Option to use a wider range of custom wheels and tires
- Appealing aesthetics
- Don’t contribute to uneven tire wear
- More vibrations
- Fewer threads available for lug nuts
- Wheel mounting holes might turn out-of-round
- Wheels might go out of the frame
- Insurance might not cover wheel spacer related services
Are Wheel Spacers Safe For Daily Driving?
As long as you install the wheel spacers correctly, you can rest assured that you will face no safety issues in your daily commutes.
In fact, in some cases you’ll experience better handling and stability, particularly while turning corners.
Do Wheel Spacers Ruin Wheel Bearings?
Wheel spacers increase the amount of force applied on your vehicle’s wheel bearings, increasing the rate of wear and shortening their life span.
Do Wheel Spacers Affect Ride Quality?
Wheel spacers improve ride quality by increasing the stability and handling performance of the car, which is one of the reasons why wheel spacers are becoming popular among vehicle owners.
Do Wheel Spacers Affect Alignment?
Wheel spacers will not affect the alignment of your tires as long as you have only moved the wheels further away and not changed the camber, caster, or toe settings.
Do Wheel Spacers Affect Brakes?
Wheel spacers are often installed to accommodate larger braking kits that don’t fit properly on the default wheel offset.
In such cases, wheel spacers work nicely with the brakes to improve braking power.
However, keep in mind that if installing wheel spacers increases the clearance between your brakes and the wheel, you may notice a decrease in braking stability.
Do Wheel Spacers Lower MPG?
Wheel spacers lower the MPG of vehicles by a small amount since they add extra weight to the wheels, which increases the load on the engine.
Additionally, installing wheel spacers and pushing the wheels outside the fenders also affects the aerodynamic profile of the vehicle, increasing air resistance and the engine’s load overall.
Are Wheel Spacers Illegal?
Currently, the use of wheel spacers is not regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Although the federal government does not have any laws in this regard, state governments do have the authority to outlaw the use of wheel spacers.
Due to this, sellers mostly market wheel spacers for off-road use to avoid getting into legal problems.
However, you can still get them installed in your vehicle if you don’t do any off-road driving, as long as they’re not illegal in your state.
How Do You Choose Wheel Spacers?
Here’s how you can choose the best wheel spacers to upgrade your car’s handling and give it a new and more appealing look:
1. Figure out your vehicle’s wheel and tire height along with the alignment setup
Note that the height and alignment of your tires play a huge role in determining your vehicle’s stance.
2. Choose the sitting position of your wheel:
Now you need to decide your wheel’s flush (the alignment of your wheel with the fender). You should inspect your vehicle from different angles to decide which position looks best.
Ideally, there should be a minimum clearance between the top of the wheels and the fender in the position you select to prevent any rubbing.
3. Measure your wheels to choose the right spacer width:
Once you know your wheel stance, use a measuring ruler to determine how far out your wheels need to extend from the top, middle, and bottom.
As well, you can have a few people sit inside the car to check if the tires rub with the fender when the suspension kicks into action.
4. Choose the right spacer style for your vehicle:
European cars that use bolts to secure a wheel to the hub use slip-on style wheel spacers that are installed right over the hub and wedged by the wheel.
In this case, you will also need to get new wheel bolts that are longer than the old ones by the size of wheel spacers so they can properly secure the wheel.
On the other hand, wheels in Asian and American cars are usually secured with lug nuts, allowing for two different wheel spacer options.
The first (and simpler of the two) option is to bolt wheel spacers to the hubs, and the second option is to use a slip-on style spacer with longer studs which can be more difficult to install.
How Do You Install Wheel Spacers?
It’s important to install wheel spacers carefully and by following the right steps to avoid vibrations during steering later on.
You’ll need the following tools to install wheel spacers:
- Lug wrench
- Torque wrench
- Car lifter
- Degreaser spray
- Wire brush
- Impact wrench
Here are the steps you should follow to successfully install wheel spacers yourself:
- Loosen the mounting bolts of the tire with a torque wrench
- Lift the car with a jack and car lifter so that the tire no longer touches the ground and remove the wheel
- Use a wire brush to clean and smoothen the surface of the wheel hub and clean the lug studs using a degreaser spray
- Mount the wheel spacer onto the hub and once it is adjusted into the right position, tighten the lug studs or bolts with your hands
- Mount the wheel back onto the wheel spacers and tighten the bolts with a torque wrench
- Lower your vehicle to the ground and remove the jack
Once you have installed the wheel spacers, you should go for a test drive to make sure everything is working properly.
However, if you hear vibrations coming from your tires or notice a decrease in the stability of the car while steering, this is an indication that the installation was not done correctly.
If you are not able to resolve these issues yourself, visit a professional mechanic to assist you.
Where Can You Buy Wheel Spacers?
You can visit your local auto parts dealer to purchase a set of wheel spacers for your car, or you can purchase a wide variety of wheel spacers from online stores such as Amazon and Walmart.
In fact, Amazon sells wheel spacers from several notable brands such as ZY Wheel, KSP Performance, Richeer, IRONTEK, Orion Motor Tech, and many more.
You can expect to pay between $65 and $100 for a pair of wheel spacers depending on their size and material. Additionally, if you visit a professional mechanic to get spacers installed, you will be charged around $200 to $400 for the service.
Do You Need To Tell Your Insurance Provider About Wheel Spacers?
If you have installed wheel spacers in your vehicle, you should inform your insurance company, as insurance providers can sometimes reject your claim for a payout in the case of an accident by holding the wheel spacers responsible for your car going out of control.
This is especially important, since the U.S. federal government does not regulate the use of wheel spacers.
What Is The Difference Between A Wheel Spacer And A Wheel Adapter?
Wheel spacers are used to create extra space between the wheel hub assembly and the wheel.
On the other hand, a wheel adapter is used to mount custom wheels on any car by changing the bolt pattern accordingly.
The main difference between these two tools is that a wheel spacer only increases the wheel offset by pushing the wheel further off the hub, while a wheel adapter changes the bolt pattern to adjust the new wheel.
Additionally, wheel spacers are usually small and lightweight whereas wheel adapters are larger and heavier.
If you want to know more, you can also see our related posts on what are wheel chocks, if wheel spacers are bad, and what are wheel adapters.
Wheel spacers are circular discs installed between the wheel and mounting hub to increase the wheel offset. This is normally done to make the car’s tires look more appealing, improve handling performance, and prevent the brake from rubbing with the tires too much.
The U.S. federal government does not regulate the use of wheel spacers or have any laws prohibiting their use. However, you should make sure to install them correctly to reap the proper benefits.