Wheel spacers are used when the offset of your vehicle does not match with the tires you want to install to the hub. They are installed between the holding bracket of the vehicle and the wheel. This pushes the wheels a bit outwards from the mainframe of the vehicle. Most of the potential buyers generally want to know “are wheel spacers safe, any problems expected?”, let us find out in this article.
Wheel spacers are generally used in custom made cars and those having large tires. The major purpose to install wheel spacers in these vehicles is to avoid contact of the wheels with the wheel hub assembly and the suspension unit.
Are Wheel Spacers Safe?
There are a lot of questions raised over the safety of wheel spacers. This is due to some myths that people hear without actually using the device and due to incomplete information. We will discuss here some common myths that are trending in the market about the wheel spacers and see if they are true or not.
Myth 1- Wheel Spacers Are Not Safe
There are some incidents that have raised questions over the safety of the wheel spacers. But when looked after the cause, it was found that the cause for the problem was not the wheel spacers, but the improper installation of it.
Each vehicle has its own set of wheel spacers, and you should install only that to your vehicle. Often the bolt pattern, improper torque value on lugs and bolts, etc, and most commonly improper installation of the wheel spacers lead to its failure.
Myth 2- Installing Wheel Spacers Lead To Bending Of The Studs
Because the wheel spacers push the wheels out of the mainframe of the vehicle, people believe that it puts a lot of pressure on the studs and may lead to its bending. This is not true at all. All the load from the wheels is due to the clamped force that is transferred to the axle by friction.
The only reason that may bend the studs would be due to loose bolts or improper torquing of the lug nuts. This would put all the pressure of the vehicle on the loose wheel studs and may bend the axle.
Myth 3- Installing Wheel Spacers Disturb The Balance Of The Wheels
Installing wheel spacers correctly would actually increase your handling, traction control and avoid rubbing of the wheels over the wheel hub and suspension components. It is totally false to say that installing wheel spacers would disturb the balance of the wheels of your vehicle. Instead, they do the opposite, if installed properly.
All these myths are totally false and the only reason for the problems people face while using wheel spacers is due to improper installation of it or installing wheel spacers that are not made to fix your car’s wheel hub. So, we think that it’s clear to you that wheel spacers are totally safe to use and they do not cause any harm to your vehicle.
Problems Faced Due To Wheel Spacers
There is no device in this world that provides you with 100% efficiency and has no disadvantages. The same applies to wheel spacers and although having so many advantages, it also has some disadvantages that may lead to some problems. Let’s discuss it.
The major problem after installing wheel spacers is that it can alter the scrub radius of the car. The scrub radius is the distance between the center of the contact patch of the wheel and the kingpin axis. It is positive, negative, or zero.
If the scrub radius of your car is positive, installing the wheel spacers would further increase the positive radius, and the pressure on the steering rack while braking would be increased. This may cause the following problems-
- You could experience a jerk in the steering wheel on a bumpy road.
- The tires may lose grip and may lock up while braking.
- Your steering could become unpredictable.
If the scrub radius of your car is negative. Installing wheel spacers could make the scrub radius become zero. This is more dangerous and may cause scrubbing action in the front tires. This would make them spin in opposite directions and the handling of your car would become unpredictable.
Pros And Cons Of Installing Wheel Spacers
Let us now discuss the pros and cons of wheel spacers in detail.
Pros Of Wheel Spacers
1. Installing Wheel Spacers Avoids Rubbing Of Tires With The Wheel Hub
As mentioned earlier, the major use of wheel spacers is to avoid the rubbing of wheels over the wheel hub assembly in cars having wider tires and custom made cars. This is because the wheels are pushed out of the mainframe of the vehicle after installing the wheel spacers.
2. Traction Over The Road Is Increased
Installing wheel spacers increases the surface area of the vehicle. This, in turn, increases the traction control of the vehicle over the road.
3. You Can Install Your Favorite Set Of Tires
If you like a specific set of tires, but they do not match the wheel hub of your car, then wheel spacers could help you. Installing wheel spacers that would match with your tires offset and the wheel hub would allow you to do this.
4. The Off-Road Performance Of Your Vehicle Would Be Increased
Wheel spacers increase the clearance between the wheel hub and the wheels, avoiding contact between them. This is useful when you are amongst those people who like to take their car off-road. Off-roading causes a lot of wear and tear between these components, but wheel spacers can help reduce this wear and tear by increasing the area between the wheels and nearby components.
5. You Can Install Bigger Brake Kit To Your Vehicle
If you think, that you need a bigger brake kit for your car, wheel spacers can help you with it. Normally, the rims of vehicles are 17 inches or less. This would not allow you to install bigger brake kits. Installing wheel spacers would give more clearance in the wheel hub assembly and allow you to install a bigger brake kit.
6. Gives Your Car A Better Appearance
Apart from providing so many advantages to your vehicle’s system, installing wheel spacers gives your car a better look. The wheels of your car would be out of the mainframe of the vehicle, giving it a unique and stylish look. Also, wheel spacers allow you to install a variety of tires that you could not install otherwise.
Cons Of Wheel Spacers
1. Wheel Spacers Can Sometimes Make Your Steering Feel Heavier
Due to the change in the design of the vehicle’s wheel alignment, installing wheel spacers might make your steering a bit heavier than normal. Wheels spacers widen the surface area of your vehicle, which would also widen the track of your vehicle while turning. You would need to get used to this mechanism before you find it comfortable.
2. The Wear And Tear On Your Vehicle Would Be Increased
In some cases, installing wheel spacers might put additional pressure on the suspension components, and as the wheels will not be touching the ball bearings, it may reduce its lifespan and the wheel bearings might get worn off earlier than normal.
3. You Could Experience More Bumps Than Normal
Installing wheel spacers would not allow the suspension unit to perform its job properly. This would make you experience more shocks on a bumpy and uneven road.
4. You Need To Install Wheel Spacers To All The Four Tires
If you want all the advantages from the wheel spacers, you need to install them for all the four tires. Also, installing them only on the front or rear tires would lead to understeering of your vehicle, and you would experience the grip only at that side, which contains the wheel spacers. So, you need to install them at all the tires.
So, we have discussed all the problems you could face after installing wheel spacers and have also discussed some common myths that stop people from installing them in their car. Wheel spacers are totally safe when installed properly and they can surely enhance the performance of your car in many ways. Make sure you buy the right set of wheel spacers that are made to fit your car’s wheel assembly and install them correctly.
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