Are Wheel Spacers Bad? Here’s What You Need To Know

Have you ever wondered if wheel spacers are bad for your car? The average driver does not put much thought into the wheels on the vehicles they purchase, but wheel spacers can have a huge impact on the way your car drives, handles, and performs.

In this article, we are going to examine the reasons why wheel spacers are popular among many car enthusiasts, and why many professionals advise against the safety of wheel spacers.

Everybody knows that tires need to be replaced regularly in order to maintain the vehicle in good working condition. However, the wheels inside of those tires are hardly ever thought about twice. If you want to make sure that the wheels of your vehicle are in top working order, it’s important to understand every part of the assembly.

Wheel spacers, or wheel adapters, are something that most people have never heard about, let alone have any concern for. If you have heard of them, then you are probably familiar with many of the issues we will discuss in this article including why they are popular, and why they could be dangerous.

There are many reasons you should know about wheel spacers. They are a part of your brake system and can be damaged in an accident, or maybe you would just like to improve the appearance of your vehicle. Either way, it’s better for you to know if they are really good or bad. That question can be difficult to answer and everybody seems to have an opinion on the answer.

An attractive car wheel on the road.

Wheel spacers have been around for a long time and were created out of genuine need. The benefits of wheel spacers have been heavily debated in the auto industry. Many experts believe that they are superficial and are not worth the safety risks.

While others believe that if they are installed properly there can be numerous benefits. What’s ultimately most important is your own opinion.

Using these facts you should be able to make a decision about whether or not wheel spacers are right for you. Here is the most important information you need to know to decide if wheel spacers are bad for your car, and how you can make a decision on whether or not to install them.

What Are Wheel Spacers?

A wheel spacer is an auto part that is designed to attach to the wheel assembly of a vehicle. The wheel spacer increases the distance between the wheel well and the wheel. There are many reasons why a person might want to add a wheel spacer to their wheel assembly, but is that a good idea?

Wheel spacers can add a unique look to a vehicle by forcing the tires to stick out from the vehicle. This also has the benefit of increasing the width of the vehicle adding additional traction and performance.

By using wheel spacers you can add millimeters to inches of extra space to the width of your vehicle. There are two main types of wheels, each has its pros and cons. We will discuss the two types of wheel spacers and their main differences.

The two types of wheel available to most vehicles are the lug-centric wheel and the hub-centric wheel. You will need to check what type of wheel is on your vehicle so that you may know which type of spacer to buy.

A Hub-Centric wheel has the wheel bores line up with the axel, and then are affixed with lug nuts to the mounting plate. A Lug-Centric wheel has the lugs affixed directly to the hub to allow for an increased hub diameter.

For minimal wheel extension, the best spacers to use are Floating Spacers between the wheel and the hub of your vehicle. It is important to remember to use factory wheel studs to secure the wheel. If factory studs are not used when securing the wheel, the measurements could be off and this can lead to major safety issues.

The newest form of wheel spacers is Bolt-On spacers. They are generally used for large-wheel extensions. Bolt-On spacers affix to the hub of your vehicle, and the wheel is attached to the spacer. This creates a new hub for your wheel to be bolted onto.

Here are a few of the most common reasons why you would want to install spacers on your vehicle.

Why Might You Want, or Need Wheel Spacers?

Wheel spacers are not the most important part of your vehicle, however, they can serve as an alignment device, to increase compatibility, or to make your vehicle look more attractive. Many people wonder if wheel spacers are right for their vehicle, or their lifestyle, these tips should help you decide if they are right for you.

The most common use for wheel spacers is to give a vehicle a more eye-catching look. Some people will enjoy the way a vehicle looks with wheel spacers, while others might find the look to be too aggressive. When installed correctly the wheel spacers cause the wheels to pop out a few inches from the body of the vehicle.

However, it is not often that wheel spacers are installed only to make a car look more appealing, even though it is a cheap and simple modification. The reason for installation can vary from owner to owner, and it’s important to understand the many reasons why an owner of a vehicle might choose to install wheel spacers.

Besides giving your vehicle an improved look, which can be enough on its own, wheel spacers also give the benefit of increasing the width of your wheel track. Having an increased width between your wheels offers greater stability and handling can be greatly improved.

Vehicles that have a wider wheel track ratio compared to the height of the vehicle are also safer from rollover accidents. Cars are must safer from roll-over accidents than SUVs because they are lower to the ground, and have a wider wheelbase-to-height ratio. By adding wheel spacers to an SUV you can improve that ratio.

Wheel spacers allow for the upgrade of components of systems like brakes or suspension. This will solve any clearance problems you have, allowing you to fit larger wheels and brakes onto your vehicle.

You cannot upgrade to larger disk breaks if your wheel cannot spin freely. If a wheel rubs against the wheel well this can cause costly damage to the body of the care. Increasing the size of your wheel can cause similar issues that can be resolved with wheel spacers.

Pick-up trucks that have been lifted with a custom lift kit often use wheel spacers because a lift kit is a very large suspension enhancement that can cause the wheel to rub against the wheel well.

Larger, or wider tires can create the same problem with rubbing on the wheel well. Wider tires do increase handling, therefore you can counteract the rubbing by using wheel spacers.

Wheel spacers allow for the entire wheel assembly including your brakes and suspension to remain intact while still allowing the wheels to move away from the wheel well.

Auto mechanics fixing car wheels.

Upgrades to your vehicle can be costly. If you make a mistake buying the wrong part, or the wrong component it can be devastating, but if you have the opportunity to use wheel spacers to mitigate the issue, you can save a lot of time and money.

Any aftermarket auto parts that are purchased for your vehicle have a chance of not fitting correctly. Even if an aftermarket part states that it will match your vehicle, it is not always the case. This can especially be true of aftermarket wheels.

A common miscalculation that is made when purchasing aftermarket parts is the wheel offset measurement or the distance between the mounting point of the wheel and the centerline. This miscalculation could be the difference between wheels and brakes being compatible or not.

If you’d rather not spend more money on new wheels, wheel spacers are a perfect solution to correct the problem at minimal cost to you.

Why Might You Want to Avoid Spacers?

Wheel spacers have a large number of benefits, but on the other hand, they also have a number of reasons why many experts advise against them. Wheel spacers when not installed properly can create a number of safety problems. Here are a few reasons why some say those risks of safety problems are not worth it.

Safety should always be the top priority, and it’s for this reason that some experts advise against wheel spacers. Most professionals in the auto industry will have a strong opinion on the safety of wheel spacers.

Every part of a vehicle contributes to its overall safety and reliability. If any piece of the vehicle is installed improperly it can cause major damage or worse. Wheel spacers are no different, in fact, they can be one of the most dangerous auto parts to install improperly.

The wheel assembly, including the wheel spacers, supports the entire weight of the vehicle. If this piece of equipment fails, it can cause a catastrophe such as losing a wheel.

Because the wheel spacer has to be adjusted to the exact correct measurement of the stud length, if any mistakes are made, the wheel can come off during regular driving. Especially if the mistake is made with floating wheel spacers because they attach directly to the wheel.

This is why it is absolutely critical when installing wheel spacers to use the correct length of stud to secure the wheel.

Also, if the spacers are not correctly tightened, as with wheel mounts, this may cause the entire assembly to malfunction, and your wheel will disconnect from the vehicle. This is an accident waiting to happen.

The quality of the wheel spacers is also very important. Parts that are not of top quality or can not hold the weight of your vehicle can malfunction and cause accidents. Most manufacturers produce high-quality wheel spacers from durable aluminum, but make sure that you are always getting your parts from a trusted manufacturer.

Vehicle manufacturers spend billions of dollars to engineer safe and reliable automobiles. Making any aftermarket changes to a vehicle will decrease the overall lifespan of the factory parts because they were not designed together.

This is especially true for wheel parts, like wheel spacers, because they are load-bearing components of the vehicle. Parts of the suspension can also have a decreased lifespan because the change in the wheel spacing was not what the factory engineers had intended.

The space between the center of your tire and your ball joint is called the scrub radius. The scrub radius is necessary to allow the wheels to turn left and right. If wheel spacers are installed on your vehicle this will increase the scrub radius making the tire track wider. A wider tire track makes your vehicle less maneuverable.

Are Wheel Spacers Good or Bad?

Now that you understand what wheel spacers do, and the pros and cons of using them, are they good or bad?

If wheel spacers are installed correctly. This means making absolutely sure that every measurement is correct, they are installed for a purpose, made for your make/model of vehicle, and made of quality parts from a trusted after-market manufacturer then they can have many benefits.

However, if they are not installed properly or by a professional. If they are not recommended for your vehicle, or many measurements are off, then you run the risk of losing a wheel during regular driving and having an accident.

The quality of material and type of wheel spacer will not have any benefits if it does not match the bolt pattern. If you do not understand how to install the wheel spacers, you must seek professional installation, it is not safe to install them improperly. Improperly installed wheel spacers can lead to an accident.

Remember to always purchase wheel spacers from a trusted manufacturer and a reliable retail outlet. Because of the reasons mentioned in the article if you cannot trust the parts or the vendor, you cannot trust that your vehicle will be safe on the road.

Before you decide to install wheel spacers, make sure that you have a clear goal in mind for why you need to install them. If you make sure that they are necessary and install them correctly you can make sure your vehicle stays in top-notch condition.

Are Wheel Spacers Safe for Daily Driving?

Wheel spacers can be installed on any make or model of vehicle. It is true though that because they are an aftermarket part, they are more than likely going to be installed on specialty cars, or high-performance cars, so this begs the question: “Is it safe to install wheel spacers for daily driving?”

From what you have learned in this article it could be hard to decide if wheel spacers are right for a daily driver. To make this decision it will be important for you to take into consideration the many positive and negative consequences of installing wheel spacers on your vehicle.

If they are installed correctly they should be able to be used on a daily basis for regular driving activities. If the proper protocols are not followed, the wheel spacers are installed improperly or the material and quality of the wheel spacers are poor, then it is not advised they be used for daily driving because you are at risk for a serious accident.

Because of this, if you follow the advice presented in this article and do not take any chances while you are on the road, then it is safe to use wheel spacers for daily driving.

Mid size SUV car driving on the highway.

Before You Go

We hope that you have enjoyed this article as much as we have and we hope that you have learned the basics about wheel spacers. As you have learned in this article, there is no simple answer if wheel spacers good or bad.

The answer can be very subjective, and different professionals will have different advice. This is something that you have to decide on your own with the information available to you.

In short, wheel spacers can be beneficial for your vehicle if installed correctly, are made of quality materials, and are purchased from a trusted vendor. However, if wheel spacers are not installed properly, are made from low-quality parts, or come from an unreliable vendor, you could be setting yourself up for disaster.

If you still have questions about the benefits and risks of wheel spacers be sure to contact a professional for assistance with deciding what is best for your vehicle. They will be able to give you the correct measurement information, answer installation questions, and any other concerns you might have.

When it’s all said in done, only the owner of the vehicle can decide what is best for them and their wheels. If you think wheel spacers will serve your needs make sure to follow the tips in this article to stay safe!

If you have any questions or comments, make sure to leave them below!

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About Brock Rangel

Hi, I am Brock, and I am the lead editor/photographer for TheCarColony. I have been a mechanic for over 14 years now, and I am here to spread my car knowledge across the web!

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