Wheel spacers are becoming increasingly famous as a special add-on for most car owners. They are an aftermarket upgrade that is now all the rage among streetcars and off-roaders.
If you are wondering whether you need to invest in wheel spacers, or you are curious about what does wheel spacers do, this article will thoroughly lay out everything you need to know about wheel spacers.
What Are Wheel Spacers?
Wheel spacers are round discs usually installed between the wheels and the rotors of a car or in front of the rotor. They are used to place your tires where you want them under the fender. They are unique components you customize for your car to create space between the wheel and the wheel hub assembly.
They are used when the end package you want doesn’t match your wheel’s offset. Wheel spacers are available in several diameters, thicknesses, and bolt patterns, and they are particularly popular in North America and Europe.
Depending on your car and how much you want your wheel pushed out, the wheel spacers can be between 3mm and 23 mm. They can only be bought as aftermarket parts and don’t come pre-attached with any vehicle. There are different types of wheel spacers, such as bolt-on spacers, hub-centric spacers, and others.
What Does Wheel Spacers Do?
You may be wondering, “what do wheel spacers do?” We will quickly look at that below.
Wheel spacers create additional space between the wheel and the wheel hub assembly. When these two parts are too close, the vehicle’s driving performance will be affected. For example, the tire may constantly rub against the suspension components. One can avoid this friction by adding wheel liners.
Wheel liners move the wheel, resulting in a better space between the wheel and the wheel well. In addition, they are used to provide better handling by creating good traction on the road. Wheel spacers increase the tire scrub radius, which will change your car’s handling. This can help you gain better control of your car.
Also, wheel liners are used to improve the appearance of a vehicle. For example, when the wheels of a car are pushed out of the mainframe, the vehicle will look slick.
Are Wheel Spacers Safe?
High-quality wheel spacers are safe if properly installed. In fact, they pose no danger whatsoever. High-quality spacers are manufactured from billet aluminum, making them as strong as wheels. In addition, the right size of wheel spacers and bolt type have studs the wheel can attach to.
At most, wheel spacers can make your suspension parts wear out in no time. But this affects car maintenance rather than safety.
However, they are still additional components for your car, and adding more components corresponds to more recorded part failure or repairs in most automobiles. Just ensure you tighten the spacer bolts and nuts to prevent any accidents.
You should check your state or region to see if attaching wheel spacers is legal. For example, some states outlaw tires sticking out beyond the fender as they may raise pebbles and dirt that can strike other road users and pollute the air.
Pros and Cons of Wheel Spacers
Despite what wheel spacers do, they have their pros and cons, and we will examine them below.
When a car’s wheel is spaced from the hub assembly, the car will gain better traction and have a more balanced grip. The improved distance between the left and right wheel also makes the car feel more planted, and this generally results in better cornering and handling.
If you want your car to stand out from other stock vehicles, a wheel spacer can do that for you. A wider-than-stock wheelbase helps your car achieve uniqueness and an outwardly domineering look.
Allows for Larger Wheels
A wheel spacer makes switching your car’s tire and replacing it with wider tires that are not the correct wheel offset easier. For instance, off-roaders often replace factory tires with taller ones. But unfortunately, these tires will rub against the fender flares and create friction without spacers.
Some wheel spacers are specifically for rear wheels because most drivers often switch out their rear wheels and leave the front ones as installed from the factory.
What wheel spacers do is pretty helpful to car owners, but they also have some disadvantages that should make you wary.
Faster Component Wear
Widening your vehicle’s wheelbase often increases operational pressure on the components, resulting in faster wear and tear. Also, your suspension and hub components suffer additional strain to compensate for this change. For example, the ball bearings and the wheels will no longer touch, and the wheel bearings will wear out quickly.
Increased Steering Effort
While wheel spacers will give you improved handling, they will also require you to use more effort to steer your vehicle. This is because the tire scrub radius increases when the wheels are further apart. This makes it more exerting to turn the tires, which may take some getting used to, especially if you often drive at low speed.
Also, your absorber may have a poorer function. Springs and shocks may not be able to absorb road bumps as much as they used to in factory setup.
Installing wheel spacers can lead to excess wheel vibration. Manufacturers usually optimize front-end and suspension geometry to ensure better drivability for their vehicle models, but this can be upset by altering the dimensions and angles or hanging the custom tires with wheel spacers.
Wheel Spacers or Wheel Adapters?
Wheel spacers and wheel adapters have similar functions, but they are not necessarily the same. Wheel adapters can serve as spacers because of how they are designed. However, they are primarily used to change a wheel’s lug nut pattern.
A new lug nut pattern allows a car owner to obtain any wheel for his car. So, with the right wheel spacer, a vehicle owner can buy an aftermarket tire that ordinarily wouldn’t have for the car.
The wheel spacing and wheel adapting benefits are now combined in one product. For example, wheel spacers adapter kits allow you to change to larger tires and bolt patterns with one kit at a similar price for wheel spacers alone. So, it’s not a bad idea to invest in a kit.
The answer to “What do wheel spacers do?” is simple. They provide improved performance by creating smoother car handling and making aftermarket wheel replacements seamless. Wheel spacers are very affordable, and they are also easy to install. Just ensure you have weighed the pros and cons before installing them.