Are Wheel Spacers Safe? Everything you Need to Know

There are a series of questions about wheel spacers, such as are wheel spacers safe? Are wheel adapters safe? What are their functions, pros, and cons? In this article, we’ll discuss at length some of these mind-boggling concerns.

Wheel spacers are a transverse topic in the automotive community. Either mechanics use them all the time, or they won’t go near them at all.

Personally, I notice that all-wheel spacers’ adverse outcomes are caused by misinformation or improper installation. I feel that installing wheel spacers before and after the 3rd gen of any car model is perfectly safe. Let’s quickly look at the functions and purposes of spacers.

What are wheel spacers and their functions?

Wheel spacers are components installed on a car’s wheel stud to form extra clearance between the wheel hub housing and the wheel. Simply put, wheel spacers extend the distance or offset between the wheel hub housing and the wheel itself.

They are typically used to install bigger tires. Wheel spacers are mounted on a car’s wheel stud with bolt partners, allowing the wheels to be installed effortlessly.  Certain custom wheels are designed to sit close to the cars’ inner wheel well. This, however, is not good for some reasons and wheel spacers create extra clearance to balance the users’ needs.

Aside from creating space between the wheel and the hub housing, wheel spacers increase performance and offer a stunning appearance to suspension systems.

Are wheel spacers on jeeps good? Many people use wheel spacers to add unique traction and grips to their SUVs and Keeps. Since wheel spacers make the wheel a bit further from the hub housing, it is more likely to offer better grip or traction when making turns. Some people only use them to push out the wheel from the car for a more aesthetic value.

are wheel spacers legal

What are the pros of wheel spacers?

As alluded above, The common reason most people install wheel spacers is to create an offset between the wheels and their corresponding hub housing. They’re used for several reasons. However, they have advantages and disadvantages.

Increased Aesthetic value: Many car enthusiasts mount wheel spacers on their baby ride for the sole aim of increasing aesthetic value. In many applications, wheel spacers can be outwardly stunning and visually appealing.

Improved traction and grip: The further a vehicle wheel is from the wheel hub housing, the better its traction and grip. If you own an SUV or any 4×4 vehicle, you may be asking, are wheel spacers good or bad on 4×4 vehicles? They are excellent for 4×4 trucks since they improve traction and grip.

They provide an opportunity for enhanced performance, which is necessary when cornering. They’re also suitable for racing. This is a significant reason why many car racers install wheel spacers on their cars. If you’re considering wheel spacers for racing, ensure you go for a high-end spacer.

Cost-effective: A high-end set of 4 wheel spacers will cost $80 to $125. Considering the aesthetic value, improper fitment purposes, and performance, it is good for the money.

Easy installation: Wheel spacers are easy to install by an average driver or car owner. It is as easy as mounting a new wheel. You can install it in your garage, mechanic workshop, or even on a driveway using some essential hand tools. You can install each wheel spacer within 10-15 minutes, which makes it easy to be installed on any day of the week.

Installation of a bigger brake kit: If you have a hard time getting an OEM brake kit for your vehicle and decide to go for a bigger one, wheel spacers will create enough interior space to achieve it. Most larger brake kits work fine on 17 or bigger inches rim, which means it’ll be challenging to fit on your standard rim. This application may not be an option for you, but it’s worth considering.

Proper wheel fitment: A more significant number of motorists are shifting their attention towards the use of aftermarket tires and custom wheels for one reason or the other. 

As a result of this shift, some folks end up buying wheels with improper offset, leading to suspension and frame interference. The cost-effective and easiest way of resolving such fitment issues is by installing wheel spacers, especially in racing cars, trucks, or off-road applications. Are wheel spacers good or bad in these situations? Of course, you get it right.

wheel spacers good or bad

What are the cons of wheel spacers?

Just as the saying goes, whatever has advantages also has disadvantages. Having seen the reasons most motorists choose to install wheel spacers on their vehicles, you might wonder, are wheel spacers legal? Are there disadvantages to it? There are no federal laws that prohibit wheel spacers in the United States. However, they’re illegal in Australia. The following are the cons of installing wheel spacers. 

Premature component wears: High-end OEM wheels are produced with quality materials to provide optimum performance to the vehicle they are used on. However, extending the vehicle’s wheelbase creates additional operational pressure on the suspension system components.  As a result, parts like the axle, wheel bearings, and tires wear out prematurely.

Heavier steering: Depending on the size and weight of the wheel spacers, the steering wheel will potentially become hard to steer. The extended wheelbase will require more effort to steer the steering wheel, making it difficult to turn the tires. 

Again, this totally depends on the size of spacers used. A 1 inch will not impact the steering, but 2, and 3-inch wheel spacers will potentially affect the steering.

Wheel vibration: Automakers typically design all their vehicles to provide an excellent ride experience and drivability. They achieve this by engineering optimal frontend geometry on all their cars. Whenever motorists use modified components such as wheel spacers, it can result in unusual wheel vibration.

FAQS:

Q: Are wheel spacers dangerous?

Generally speaking, wheel spacers are not inherently dangerous. However, poor installation of cheap wheel spacers is extremely dangerous. That said, you need to only buy high-end spacers and ensure they’re correctly installed.

Q: Do wheel spacers affect alignment?

Wheel spacers do not affect alignment specifications. It only pushes the wheels outwardly from the wheel hub assembly, and all suspension system components maintain their designated front-end geometric relationship to carry the wheel.

Q: Do wheel spacers affect bearings?

Wheel spacers can cause untimely bearing failures. It adds more load on the bearing since it pushes the wheel outwardly and places more operational pressure on the bearing.

Q: Do wheel spacers affect ride quality?

There is usually no change in ride quality that affects installing wheel spacers. In any case, a few persons have complained about changes in ride quality. This complaint tends to be true because spacers increase leverage on the wheel hub bearing and cause untimely failure. And, it is known that bad wheel hub bearing affects drivability.

Q: Should I use anti-seize on-wheel spacers?

No, do not apply anti-seize on spacers because it serves as a lubricant. The application of anti-seize will significantly reduce friction between the studs and the threads of the nuts. As the wheel keeps rotating as you drive, the nuts may loosen and start vibrating or wobbling. If you fail to notice it on time, it will wind up damaging the spacers and making them separate.

Q: Will wheel spacers stop my tires from rubbing?

Wheel spacers are used for various reasons such as improper fitment purposes, aesthetic appealing, and performance. They also enable motorists to install bigger wheels and tires without rubbing by creating offset between the wheels and inner wheel well components.

Q: How much does it cost to install wheel spacers?

The cost of installing a wheel spacer depends on the type of spacer you want to buy, your location, and your mechanic. The average price of installing wheel spacers should be between $120 to $250. The spacer should cost around $80 to $150, while the service charge should be about $50 to $100.

Are Wheel Spacers Actually Safe? YouTube

Final words:

At this juncture, it is apparent that we’ve cleared the air on the mind-boggling question, are wheel spacers safe? Spacers have been in the automotive industry for the past decades. And as long as you get the matchable ones and mount them properly, there are few chances of failure.

Disregard all information that says otherwise. There may be some information on the internet that says otherwise, but the truth is no one wants to admit that they applied excess anti-seize or forgot to tighten the lug nuts, or purchased inferior wheel spacers.

A wide number of people have used spacers even in the highest level of Motorsport Without issues. Follow our guides and regular maintenance, and you’ll have a safe ride.

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Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a seasoned automotive technician for the past 9 years, and a technical writer. He loves writing about auto professional repair guides, DIY repair guides, and buyer’s guide. After spending six years in the automotive workshop, he decided to impact his knowledge to people aside his domain, and he has achieved this by centering his Automotive writing skills on REPAIRS.

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