What’s the Wheel Deal ?
Most wheel spacers are used to offset the wheel from the hub which is its original mounting point. This provides a “space” causing the wheels to be pushed outward to your fender. There are many reasons why someone would want wheel spacers eg. narrow axles or not enough wheel offset. Wheel spacers can put your tires and wheels where you want them to be, achieving a specific look or allowing you to run certain rims and tire combinations.
Myth: They are Dangerous ? In a one-word summation, NO. ( but they can be a hazard if you buy the cheap ones)
Fact :They often create more problems than using a wheel with the actual offset you need to achieve the same result
What you should know : The best and highest quality wheel spacers are made of a billet aluminum which is very strong, if not stronger than some of the rims we’re being offered in Trinidad and Tobago…. but that’s a whole other topic.
When you increase the offset of the wheel, you place more stress on the axle’s studs, and in a front axle application on the bearings or ball joints and spindle. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying do not buy wheel spacers but you need to properly consider what you want to achieve and what you intend to use a vehicle for.
The quality of a wheel spacer or adapter is key as it would give you piece of mind knowing you stand a less likely chance of having your passengers or even family put at risk. There have been many recorded cases where cheap casted spacers have broken into pieces, shattered, broken wheel studs and even degraded visibly.
So how can you tell a good spacer or adapter?
- Brand – Companies who stand by their products and provide warranty should be a clear sign that you are buying something strong. Most of the branded spacers have gone through rigorous testing and have been in some cases certified safe by various bodies. Cheap spacers often do not contain any branding and sometimes not anodized properly causing visible defects.
- Price – Cheap wheel spacers ! NO NO NO ! We’ve come across so many claiming to be forged and their packaging claiming to be 7075 or 6061. If it’s too cheap then most likely it’s not real. Chinese manufactures are known to advertise specs of products that are not actually what they sell. Stick to known brands, chances are if its from china they aren’t being too truthful about their product.
- Material – Strength of course depends on the material the spacers are made out of 7075-T6 is the strongest followed by 6061. Most brands carry a 60**-T6 spacers and are the most common ones found. If you are out for hardcore performance 7075 is what you need to get! The forged 7075-T6 can meet the demand in different kinds of the extreme environments (rally, off-road etc.).
- Manufacture Process – Wheel spacers come in forged or cast options. Casting is the process where metal is heated until molten, while in the molten or liquid state it is poured into a mold or vessel to create a desired shape. Forging is the application of thermal and mechanical energy to steel billets or ingots to cause the material to change shape while in a solid state. In essence forged products have been proven to be 66% stronger than similar cast products. Casting products are ideal for use in low stress environment if your vehicle is strictly for show purposes or highway use. Be warned that cast products often contain air pockets because of the way they are produced. These air pockets create weak points in the product and can lead to fractures and failures.
- Bolts/Studs/Nuts – The standard grade for wheel studs commonly is 6.8,8.8,9.8,10.9 etc. From our research the recommended grade for a secure safe stud is 10.9 . Always look for certification on your studs to verify you are getting what you pay for. In most cases proper studs have a logo engraved and a SCM435 or better certification. Ideally the 10.9 nuts should be paired with a grade 8 or above
- Surface Treatment – Always look for a hard anodized finish as this makes the material nonporous and therefore more resistant to corrosion and degradation due to exposure to various elements
- Warranty – No warranty…that should speak for it self. Don’t buy if they cannot stand behind their product.
Lug-Centric vs Hub-Centric:
There are two types of wheels on vehicles: Lug-centric wheels and hub centric wheels. Whatever type of wheels you have, your vehicle will need to match up with the type of spacers you may choose to buy.
Hub-centric means that the wheel bore and axle line up perfectly, and lug nuts are used to secure the wheel to the mounting plate.
Lug-centric means that the lugs themselves do the centering due to an increased hub diameter.
Floating Versus Bolt-On:
Floating spacers are placed between the wheel and hub of your vehicle, but use the same factory wheel studs to secure the wheel in place. For this reason, they are usually used to accommodate minimal wheel extension.
Bolt-on spacers are generally used for larger wheel extension. These types of spacers bolt onto the hub of your vehicle, causing its wheels to be bolted on the spacer. In essence, this forms a new “hub” onto which your wheels are now bolted.
Wheel Spacers Increase Scrub Radius
Scrub radius is the distance between your vehicle’s central tire contact patch and the upper ball joint where it would theoretically touch the pavement if moved straight down.
In short, the scrub radius has a profound effect on how easy it is to turn the front tires of your vehicle.
Wheel spacers increase the scrub radius as the tire track becomes wider, making your vehicle less maneuverable.