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Are Wheel Spacers Safe? Are There Different Types?

mechanic performing wheel alignment

Wheel spacers are not always a standard part of a vehicle, but they are a widely used component. Their primary purpose is to improve the vehicle’s aesthetics and enhance performance when necessary. The types of wheel spacers have many differences but also differ in levels of safety when it comes to the vehicle’s performance.

There are a few types to choose from, and it is crucial to learn about each type individually to decide which one is the right one for you.

divider 7What are Wheel Spacers?

Wheel spacers are mechanical components that add additional space between the hub assembly and the wheel. They sit between the brake rotor and the wheel, and their purpose is to move the wheel outwards, creating more space between the wheel and the body. By adding wheel spacers, you can improve the vehicle’s performance and style.

They can make a drastic difference, especially in the vehicle’s performance. They can help your wheels not brush against brakes or any other components that connect to the vehicle’s suspension. Wheel spacers come in many different varieties, with different thicknesses, diameters, and bolt patterns, allowing anyone to find ideal wheel spacers that meet their vehicle’s requirements.

Are Wheel Spacers Safe?

When it comes to the safety of the wheel spacers, you will need to consider several things. Generally speaking, if you purchase high-quality wheel spacers—preferably hub-centric—you will ensure the safety of your vehicle. The most important part of having a safe ride with your wheel spacers is purchasing those that fit your vehicle precisely. Buying generic spacers won’t ensure they fit on your vehicle’s hub perfectly, which will make the primary connection weak and unsafe.

Types of Wheel Spacers

Depending on how you install them, their effect on the vehicle, and their safety, we can split wheel spacers into four categories. Read the following carefully to learn which spacers are safest and most practical to use.

Hub-centric Slip-on

Hub-centric slip-on spacers are designed to move a lot of torque away from the studs and onto the hub. They slide or slip on the lug nuts with grooves that connect to the hub as well. The grooves are the main reason for the torque being transferred to the hub directly.

Safety: These wheel spacers are generally safe to use on your vehicle, although you may need to ensure that the studs are long enough to attach the lug nuts.

Lug-centric Slip-on

Lug-centric slip-on wheel spacers are mounted directly onto the lug nuts. The main difference between the lug-centric and the hub-centric spacer is that lug-centric wheel spacers do not have notches or grooves for the hub. All of the vehicle’s weight is centered on this part of the vehicle instead of on the hub.

Safety: Since all of the vehicle’s weight goes directly to the studs, the lug-centric slip-on spacers are not as safe as the hub-centric ones.

Hub-centric Bolt-on

Hub-centric bolt-on spacers work the same way as regular wheels. You bolt them onto your hub and slide them over the stud of the wheel. This type of wheel spacer has a lip that must fit around your vehicle’s hub perfectly. Once you install hub-centric bolt-on spacers, all pressure will be centered around the hub, which is the strongest part.

Safety: These wheel spacers are entirely safe to put on your vehicle. It is crucial to obtain a bolt-on spacer that precisely fits your vehicle, though.

Lug-centric Bolt-on

Lug-centric bolt-on spacers work similar to hub-centric spacers, with the only difference of not having a lip that centers all the torque around the hub. In the lug-centric spacer, all the torque is transferred directly to the vehicle’s wheel studs. These wheel spacers are much more challenging to install and center on the hub, making them less practical than hub-centered bolt-ons.

Safety: Lug-centric bolt-on spacers are significantly less safe than hub-centric ones. The main reason behind this is that the lug nuts cannot support your vehicle’s weight, unlike the hub.

Properly Installing Wheel Spacers

Correctly installing wheel spacers is crucial in ensuring the safest possible vehicle for you and your loved ones. When installing bolt-on spacers properly, an essential step is to ensure you have enough wheel-well available. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions so that everything can run smoothly. Once you pull your wheels further out, your tires may rub against the fenders, so check if you need to adjust the suspension. Slip-on spacers are incredibly straightforward to install and use. They simply slide over your existing studs, and you attach the wheel back on and put the lug nuts back in their place.

Benefits of Wheel Spacers

The benefits of installing wheel spacers are various. They improve the overall look of your car and have some performance advantages. Some of the most important advantages are:

  • Improved handling
  • Easy to install
  • Better aesthetics
  • Affordable
  • Precisely fitted to individual needs
  • Improves incorrect offset

Drawbacks of Wheel Spacers

Even though wheel spacers add many different benefits once installed, they also have a couple of drawbacks that are important to mention. It is essential to consider the disadvantages before purchasing wheel spacers to make an informed decision.

  • Fenders may interfere with the position of the wheels
  • Additional component wear and tear
  • May decrease the quality of the ride
  • Not all types of wheel spacers are considered safe

divider 7Final Thoughts

Even though we’ve established that wheel spacers are generally safe to add to your vehicle’s design, there are some factors you will need to consider. It is crucial to know that hub-centric and lug-centric wheel spacers work differently and affect your vehicle differently. Hub-centric spacers are much safer than lug-centric ones, and you can even choose between the slip-on and bolt-on spacers, depending on what you need. Hopefully, this article gave you some insight and helpful information so you can make the best decision possible.


Featured Image Credit: Golubovy, Shutterstock

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