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What are Wheel Spacers and How to Install Spacers for Wheels?

When it comes to wheel spacers, you’ll quickly discover the majority of people have already made up their mind and have strong opinions of them. On Google, YouTube, and car forums, you will find two groups: those that claim wheel spacers are entirely safe when installed correctly and those that urge others to avoid them like the plague.

blue-wheel-spacers

What are wheel spacers and why we use spacers for wheels?

Wheel spacers are round discs that are installed between the rotors and wheels.

There are a few reasons you may want to use wheel spacers. The first is to get better vehicle stability, which you’ll notice most during cornering and turning because wheel adapters help move the tires farther apart. They help distribute the weight equally on all four wheels. It’s this improved weight distribution that helps enhance the car’s handling.

Another reason to use wheel spacers is to correct improper wheel offset. Sometimes new wheels can interfere with steering or suspension components on a vehicle, and a wheel spacer can remedy that. This can also be an issue when you pair a factory wheel with modified suspension. For example – on a lifted truck, the new steering and suspension components are built for a wheel with a different offset and back spacing. Therefore, the factory wheel might require some extra space to keep them from touching.

before-and-after-wheel-adapters

Are wheel spacers safe?

The short answer is, yes. As long as your wheel spacers are of high quality and properly installed, you should be fine. They only become problematic when improperly fitted or used in an inappropriate manner. So, while some may argue that wheel adpaters should never be used and are dangerous, others understand that they can be very useful and safe if done right. If the wheel, hub, and spacer are correct for the application and the bolts/lugs are torqued to the right amounts, you should not encounter any problems with running spacers.

It is also important to do your research and make sure you get the right ones for your applications. That’s because, sometimes, wheel spacers can actually cause your tires to rub on the outer edge and that can become quite an issue. They can also wear out your car’s suspension parts more quickly. But, while that can be detrimental in the long run, it doesn’t make them inherently unsafe. Whether you are looking into spacers for aesthetic or performance purposes, there is no reason why you should not reap the many benefits associated with them for both daily driving and racing.

blue-wheel-adapters

Types of wheel spacers

There are two types of wheel spacers available in the market. These include; hub-centric and lug-centric.

  • Hub centric: The hub-centric wheel spacer is completely safe to put on your vehicle. The type of wheel spacer bolts onto the hub assembly and slides over the wheel studs. The hub-centric spacer fits on the wheel centring flange on the hub. 
  • Lug centric: The type of wheel spacers are attached with the help of lug nuts. Lug centric wheel spacer looks like a large washer that fits in between the hub and wheel.

How to Install Wheel Spacers

STEP 1

Park your car or truck on a level surface. Loosen the lug nuts that fasten the wheel to the hub. Slide a floor jack under the car at the appropriate point and jack up the car. Lower the car onto a jack stand. Repeat this process until all four corners are supported on a jack stand.

STEP 2

Finish removing the lug nuts. Slide the wheels off the hub and set them out of the way. Spray degreaser on the lug studs and wipe them down with a rag. If they are very dirty, use a wire brush to clean up the threads. Wipe down the hub surface where the wheel installs, as well.

STEP 3

Slide the wheel spacer onto the studs, if it is not the bolt-on type. Line the holes in the spacer up with the wheel studs and then slide the spacer over the studs until it seats firmly against the hub. Some vehicle (BMWs for instance) use lug bolts that thread into the hub. In this case, line up the spacer with the holes in the hub.

STEP 4

Place the wheel spacer onto the studs, if it is a bolt-on wheel spacer. Install the lug nuts onto the studs so that the spacer is bolted to the hub. The bolts will come with the spacer, but are also available at auto parts stores if they are not with the spacer. Tighten the nuts that hold the spacer in place to the specifications outlined in the directions. This will likely be around 90 foot-pounds.

STEP 5

Slide the wheel onto the lug studs so that it seats firmly against the spacer. Install the lug nuts (or lug bolts) with the lug wrench and tighten them. Repeat for the other corners of the vehicle.

STEP 6

Slide the floor jack under the car and lift the vehicle so that the jack stands can be removed. Lower the vehicle to the ground, one corner at a time.

STEP 7

Tighten the lug nuts with a torque wrench in a crisscross, star pattern. Tighten them to the manufacturer's recommended setting, which should be anywhere from 70 to 90 foot-pounds, depending on the vehicle. Check the tightness of the lug nuts after the vehicle has been driven 100 miles.

OMT-wheel-spacers

The problems created by installing ill-fitting, low-quality wheel spacers on your car can outweigh the performance benefits they bring. That's why it's worth taking the time to find quality wheel spacers for your car. As far as quality goes, you can't go wrong with brands like OrionMotorTech.