FAQ : Wheel Spacers 101

FAQ : Wheel Spacers 101

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Wheel Spacers are some of the most important parts you can ever decide to install on your vehicle. While these wheel spacers are a very simple part, the process behind selecting or choosing the right spacer can often be confusing. We’ll show you everything you need to know about wheel spacers, offset and making your vehicle look it’s absolute best.

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The VIP craze has died down, but that won’t stop people from stuffing the biggest rim combinations into their cars.

Many times customers seem confused when talking about offset or the use of a wheel spacer. Other times some may think that spacers are dangerous and not truly meant for competitive motorsports. Before we delve into these subjects, it’s important to remember the basic uses for wheel spacers.

We stock a complete lineup of Eibach wheel spacers in our store. Find someone with a lower price? Let us know!

Why Do I Wheel Spacers?

Wheel Track Width : You’ve seen the commercials and they are indeed speaking the truth. Wider is better and it’s a great way to improve grip and handling by simply pushing out your wheels and making your wheel track wider. This in turn enables your car to be more stable and predictable when pushed at limit. This is a lot like buying a wider rim, only without the true cost of another rim, tire and labor.

Image courtesy Perrin Performance
Image courtesy Perrin Performance

BBK Clearance : If you have opted for a big brake kit or simply an oe replacement upgrade, like the Mitsubishi Evolution X brakes on a 240SX, you may need spacers depending on the style of rim and offset. Most big brake kits require a 17inch rim or larger and even then the design or mounting surface of the rim itself may become problematic.

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This is when you will need a spacer to give your brakes and rims the clearance they need. Without the use of a spacer, the wheel may strike or scrape your big brake kit, ruining more than your day.

– Looks : Even if you aren’t a big fan of the ‘flush movement’, chances are you want the same thing everyone else wants. Rims and tires that fully take up the wheel well and sit flush with your fender line, giving you an aggressive overall look.

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Image courtesy Perrin Performance

Adjusting Offset : You just bought a set of rims that don’t really fit all too well, or maybe you picked up a set of used rims and they aren’t quite right for your car. You know the saying make them fit right?

If the rim’s offset is too high, your wheels will sit too far inward and maybe even run the inside fender liner when making u-turns. This condition can also lead to your rims hitting suspension components like your control arms or coilovers. Needles to say this is not something you want to leave alone. Correct this issue by installing the correct wheel spacers to push the wheels outward and restoring the look and ride of your vehicle.

Chart courtesy Perrin Performance
Chart courtesy Perrin Performance

Other scenarios may include different widths for the vehicle that you are installing new rims on. If your vehicle was equipped with 7 inch wide rims stock, and you opt for a wider 8 inch rim with a higher offset, there’s a lot more calculating that needs to be done.

Not only is the offset different from the older rim to the new one, but the width of the wheel is usually different as well. Give us a call if you have any further questions.

Cons of Wheel Spacers

Wheel spacers will increase your track width, but will also increase your scrub radius and your inner fenderwell clearance. Your steering wheel will want to recenter itself faster and it may take more effort to turn at low speeds, especially if you are upgrading to wider rims. 

Excessively wide wheel spacers and rims will also negatively affect the life of your wheel bearings. Premature failure can occur if you decide to go too big when sizing spacers and rims.

What do I look for when shopping for Wheel spacers?

The chart above shows you exactly what you will need to shop for wheel spacers. Common terms such as PCD or bolt pattern tell you what the lug nut pattern of your vehicle is. This value shows you that the spacer you are shopping for will slide over the lug nuts and bolt down to your wheel hub.

Thickness gives you measurements on how far this wheel spacer will adjust your wheel’s offset. We’ll be showing you how to measure this value with your vehicle later in the writeup. The thickness value will also tell you if need you need extended wheel studs or another solution. If the wheel spacer you select is too thick for your lug nuts to tighten down on, this can create a very dangerous situation.

We provide full alignment and tire services in Hayward CA
We provide full alignment and tire services in Hayward CA

Will my wheel spacers change my alignment?

It’s a fair question to ask, after all you don’t want to waste the money you just paid your alignment shop by installing wheel spacers. Unfortunately most of this answer will have to do with the spacers that you purchased. To continue discussing the alignment of your car and wheel spacers, it will really depend on whether your spacers are hubcentric or not.

Most trusted manufacturers like H&R, Eibach, Perrin sell hubcentric wheel spacers exclusively, which is pretty much the only kind of spacer you want. Hubcentric spacers eliminate the possibility of loosening or shifting, and these wheel spacers are tested, designed and put to the test in extreme competitive circumstances

Eibach makes some of the best spacers available.
Eibach makes some of the best spacers available.

Any wheel spacer thicker than 10mm usually incorporates a hubcentric ring with extended center bores and extended hub centering rings. These rings and CNC machined finish ensures top notch fitment and quality that will hold up to all of the abuse and power you can throw at it.

Because the spacer is CNC machined to sit flat and with protruded hub centers, this means that the wheel spacer will never change your static alignment or wheel balance.

how will i know if i need extended studs?

Most OE manufacturers use a lug nut or stud that is 28-31 mm in length, and all it takes is a simple conversion to see how much you are spacing your wheel studs.

From five to seven millimeters, you can still utilize the stock lug nuts and studs so long as you properly seat your wheel spacers. Upwards of ten millimeters however you are going to need to reach some sort of compromise, and 15mm, 20mm and above will require at least a 50mm lug stud or bolt.

ARP Wheel Studs are the best solution for your needs
ARP Wheel Studs are the best solution for your needs

Certain BMW and Lexus vehicles utilize hubcentric wheels, which can complicate matters when you are looking to just space out your wheels. Hubcentric rims sit on a lip machined around the rim and hub instead of on the wheel bolts or studs.

This hubcentric lip provides a stable ledge for your rims to sit on, increasing surface contact and making the rim stronger. Rims specifically designed for these vehicles should not be used on vehicles without this hubcentric ring, as wheel bolts are not strong enough to support the weight of the rim and suspension travel.

If you own a vehicle with hubcentric rims, give us a call before placing your order for a set of wheel spacers. Thinner wheel spacers like the 5mm or 10mm may or may not work on a hubcentric vehicle, and while it may slip over the lip it may not go past it. (For example ; your hubcentric ring is 9mm, your Eibach spacer is 5mm leaving a 4mm gap between the hubcentric ring and the rim.

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Slip on wheel spacers are not recommended

Improper installation or slip on wheel spacers can create dangerous vibrations, as the wheel may not be truly centered on your hub. This condition can lead to an accident or death if you are not careful, make sure to properly inspect your spacer and wheel for fitment.

What Size Spacer Do I need?

Determining the size spacer you require is very simple and can be accomplished in just a few minutes with a tape measure. You will need these two measurements ;

Height – Measure from the ground to the top of the tire

Gap – Measure from the outer tire edge to the inner fender lip – subtract 1/4″ to determine maximum spacer size. Your front wheels and / or fender may require further modification to gain clearance.

Tips :

-When talking about tire sizes, remember that sizes vary a great deal from one manufacturer to another. Even though the tire size is listed as “245”, the actual widths can be hugely different among brands and even tire types. Tire manufacturers publish their actual widths on their websites. This is important because a setup with a wider 225 tire may rub versus a setup running a narrower 225 tire.

-When installing spacers, never use anti-seize or grease between the spacer and the rotor hat face. In fact, you should scrub this area clean with Scotch-Brite or a wire wheel attachment. A thin amount of anti-seize can be placed on the lip of the hub for the spacer to sit on and on the spacer lip for the wheel to rest on.

 

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