What are wheel spacers? They are a popular aftermarket modification that can enhance a vehicle’s stance and handling. However, there has been an ongoing debate on whether wheel spacers are safe.
While some argue they can improve stability and performance, others claim they pose significant risks. Let’s explore the drawbacks and benefits of wheel spacers and provide insight into their safety.
In this article:
What Are Wheel Spacers Used For?
They can increase the distance between the wheel hub and the wheel. This boosts the wheel’s offset, bringing it closer to the fender and giving the vehicle a more aggressive stance.
Additionally, wider tires or larger brake calipers can be accommodated by using wheel spacers. But they must be installed correctly and with the appropriate size and thickness to avoid any safety issues, such as wheel wobble or excessive stress on the wheel bearings.
Are Cars With Wheel Spacers Safe?
Yes. Wheel spacers can be safe if installed correctly and used with the appropriate hardware. Still, there are risks associated with using them.
I used to install thicker wheel spacers in the wrong way, which caused the wheels to become loose. Soon after that, I could feel the wheels wobbling while driving and almost hit a tree. So take it seriously.
Based On Types
Wheel spacers on trucks come in two main types: bolt-on and slip-on. Bolt-on wheel spacers are attached to the hub using extended bolts or studs, while slip-on wheel spacers are slid onto the seat and secured in place by the wheel itself.
Bolt-on: You can feel completely secure using bolt-on wheel spacer as long as they are hub-centric. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter, and before you get on the road, check to ensure your wheel well has adequate space for your new lower offset stock setup.
Slip-on: These are the most convenient types to install. Just attach the wheel and tighten the lug nuts after installing; they will slip over your current studs.
Based On Uses
Besides the types, your safety depends on your intended use of the aftermarket wheel spacers.
Daily driving: When installed properly, they not only make your automobile safer than the factory arrangement, but they are also safe. The advantages still exist even though this isn’t a significant benefit for regular driving. When I drove in the highlands, I finally noticed the difference.
Racing: Hub-centric spacers are required rather than lug-centric ones if you intend to use them on the track. Because of the increased pressure from spinning at such fast speeds, lug-centric spacers may shear off completely, which might be fatal.
Towing: Hub-centric wheel spacers won’t bring you any problems. However, lug-centric ones might not be able to support the additional weight. They will easily support the weight of the car without resulting in any serious harm. Simply anticipate some normal wear and tear in addition to this.
Are Wheel Spacers Legal?
The legality of wheel spacers for cars varies depending on the state or country you live in. Some states prohibit the use of wheel spacers altogether, whereas others have specific laws regulating their use. In the state of California where I live, it is legal to use this gear. Still, it is illegal in New Jersey.
It is crucial to check your area’s laws and regulations before mounting these products to your car to ensure they are acceptable. Furthermore, in order to assure safe and legal use, select premium spacers that are the right size and have them fitted by an expert.
Keep in mind that breaking local regulations or utilizing subpar spacers can lead to fines, vehicle confiscation, or even accidents. Thus, always put safety and legality first when thinking about these body components.
Wheel Spacers Pros And Cons
Like any automotive modification, wheel spacers come with their own set of pros and cons.
Enhance the car’s handling, traction, and cornering under different circumstances. The distance between your tires on the car’s driver and passenger sides is widened using wheel spacers, which improves performance.
Make extra space for larger tires and wheels. You can use tire packages that ordinarily rub against the fenders or wheel wells by using wheel spacers, which sit further away from your vehicle’s body.
Reasonable-priced modification. A good pair typically comes with an approximate cost of $125, making this one of the more affordable automobile changes you can make.
Simple to install. Wheel spacers can be installed on your car if you know how to replace a tire. Remove each wheel, install the spacers with bolts, and then put the wheels back in place.
Steering becomes more difficult. Because the wheels are wider apart, it takes more effort to turn them. However, with current power steering, this problem is virtually insignificant.
Riding quality degrades. The more gap you have between your wheels, the more likely some components may become unbalanced, and your ride quality will suffer.
Cause your suspension to deteriorate more quickly. Your suspension’s parts are more stressed when you space your wheels farther apart. This can eventually harm parts like axles and wheel bearings.
How To Install Them Safely
Installing wheel spacers can be done if you follow the correct steps. Here is what you need to do.
Step 1: Gather the necessary tools, including a torque wrench, a jack, a pair of jack stands, a lug wrench, and wheel spacers.
Step 2: Park your vehicle on a flat and level surface. Ensure the car is in park mode or that the handbrake is engaged.
Step 3: Use the wrench to unfasten the wheel lug nuts you will install the spacer. Notice not to completely take those nuts out, just loosening them.
Step 4: Lift the car off the ground using a jack, and place the jack stands under the vehicle’s frame to support it.
Step 5: Detach the lug nuts from the wheel and carefully remove the wheel from the hub.
Step 6: Clean the hub and spacer surfaces with a wire brush to ensure a proper fit.
Step 7: Place the spacer on the hub and hand-tighten the lug nuts. Ensure the spacer is centered properly.
Step 8: Fasten the lug nuts using the torque wrench in a star pattern. Refer to the instructions provided by the manufacturer for the specific torque values.
Step 9: Place the wheel on the spacer, and hand-tighten the lug nuts.
Step 10: Use the jack to lower the vehicle, then remove the jack stands.
Step 11: Use the torque wrench to tighten the lug nuts to the manufacturer’s recommended torque specification.
Step 12: Repeat the process for all other wheels.
Step 13: After installation, take your vehicle for a test drive to guarantee everything is working correctly and the spacers are securely in place.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are 2-inch Spacers Safe?
Yes. They are quite safe to use and won’t vibrate if put correctly. It is advised that you get the installation of your wheel spacers done at a reputable facility.
Can You Daily Drive With Wheel Spacers?
Yes. You can drive with them every day if they are put correctly. Nevertheless, it’s critical to be aware of any potential negatives and monitor your car’s performance for any problems.
How Long Can You Drive On A Spacer Wheel?
Spacer wheels are not intended for long-term use and are usually used as a temporary solution to allow a vehicle to be driven short distances to a repair shop. It is generally recommended not to go on a spacer wheel for more than 50 miles at a speed of no more than 50 mph.
The Bottom Line
Wheel spacers on tires can be a safe and effective way to enhance a vehicle’s performance and aesthetics, but only if installed and used correctly. Remember to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, choose the appropriate size and material, and have them installed by a reputable professional.