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What are Wheel Spacers & What Do They Do?

Wheel spacers have only one reason for existing: to move the wheels further away from the body of the vehicle. As their name suggests, wheel spacers offer more space in the area between the wheel hub assembly and the wheel itself. The spacers are placed over the holding bracket in order to create this additional room. This aftermarket part is fairly common and a low-cost upgrade that boasts a number of benefits for both street-focused cars and off-roaders.

Typically used to install larger tires, wheel spacers are devices that fit over a vehicle’s holding bracket to create extra clearance between the wheel and the wheel hub assembly. In other words, wheel spacers increase the offset or the distance between the wheel and the wheel hub assembly. Wheel spacers are matched with a vehicle’s bolt pattern and fit over the existing studs, allowing the wheel to be mounted normally.

Wheel spacers are round metal spacers that fit between the hub of your vehicle and the wheel. They 're going to install right on your wheel assembly. Spacers push the wheel away from the body for a number of different reasons, including appearance, fitting, performance and handling. It is important to note that the spacers are only moving the wheel outwards and not the hub assembly. The result is a larger gap between the wheel and the wheel.

To achieve better vehicle stability especially, during the car’s cornering and turning, people tend to use wheel spacers. Responsible for creating space for the wheels, this component causes the tires to move further apart. As a result, the vehicle’s weight is distributed equally on all the four wheels, enhancing the car’s handling.

And because the wheels sit further away from the hub assembly when using wheel spacers, the traction that a vehicle has when cornering is improved. Wheel spacers are also used merely to extend the wheels outward from the vehicle to give it a more menacing look.

Wheel spacers can run from 5mm (0.20 inches) all the way to 45mm (1.75 inches) or even larger. The bigger wheel spacer sizes are more common for off-road vehicles. 

There are a lot of benefits when it comes to installing wheel spacers, making them a fairly popular aftermarket part. They do not, however, come pre-attached to any vehicle. Purchasing wheel spacers specifically for your type of vehicle ensures that they match the bolt pattern and fit perfectly so that you do not experience any mounting issues.

Why Should I Use Wheel Spacers?

It's not a good thing that your wheels are very close to the inside of the wheel. This causes some less than desirable driving characteristics and may cause the tire to rub against the wheel liner and suspension components during turns. Wheel spacers are the solution for poor fitment. Wheel spacers simply add a little more space so that you can avoid clearance issues that could lead to performance degradation.

  • Installing high-quality aluminum wheel spacers not only brings a visual change but also more comfortable driving experience. 
  • Wheel spacers are also used for spacing wheels and it can allow large tires and wheels with a different bolt pattern to be mounted.
  • Wheel spacers also avoid wheel scrub. If you experience new rims hitting the control arms or suspension, you could install wheel spacers to fix the problem. After installing the correct wheel spacers, the rubbing will be eliminated instantly. Like magic.

Do Wheel Spacers Have Disadvantages?

Well, they do, actually.

  • Using wheel spacers means breaking the contact between the ball bearing and the wheels. And, because of this sizing, the wheel bearing life may be shortened or, worse, lead to failure.
  • If your car has wheel spacers installed, the nearby suspension and hub components may experience accelerated wear. This is due to the added stress spacers place on parts that were originally designed to specifically tested tolerances set forth by the manufacturer. The wider geometry caused by spacers can cause parts like the wheel bearings to wear out more quickly than normal, which most wouldn’t find ideal. 
  • Depending on the size of your wheel spaces, you may experience heavier steering. The wider track means that more effort is required to turn the wheels, making it more difficult to turn the steering wheel. 
  • In addition to noticeably heavier steering, you may experience changes in your car’s suspension characteristics. For example, the springs and shocks on your vehicle will likely not absorb bumps and harsh road conditions as well as the stock setup. 
  • Having your wheels stick further out from their suspension components can result in worse ride quality. The bigger the spacers, the bigger the negative impact on overall ride comfort will be.

So, Should I Install Wheel Spacers, Then?

Ultimately, the advantages and drawbacks of wheel spacers are your overall vision, knowledge and management capabilities. While there are certainly potential hazards to consider with this aftermarket mod, most of the problems that arise are the result of inexperienced owners trying to adjust their wheel packages in ways that go well beyond what the factory specifications can support.

If you look carefully and remain within the maximum tolerance of your car you can achieve several aesthetic and performance benefits by wheel spacers. You may want to start looking at wheel spacers if you are looking for a larger rotor and tire package and enjoy better handling and traction.

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