View Full Version : Wheel Spacers
What's the general consensus on wheel spacers?
In the front I get some rubbing on the front coil towers when fully stuffed. In the rear I only have about 5/8" clearance between the tires and shocks. I've already been rubbing them just around the streets. I could gain some more (1/4") clearance if I were to relocate my limiting straps (but that will be a PIA). So I’d like to get a little more breathing room front and rear. Expense is a concern and I would prefer to keep the stock aluminum wheels. With my 255/70-16's I don't have especially wide tires, a narrower/taller tire (235/80-16) is an option but probably not for a while unless I could sell these.
So what do you guy's think? Wheel Spacers...good option, or asking for trouble?
09-05-2006, 06:17 PM
The big problem with wheel spacers is that it can create more rubbing problems on the front end. As your wheels turn (side to side...as in turning a corner), the outside edge will travel in a larger arc than w/o the spacers. When the tire reaches its closest point to the sheetmetal (or plastic, as the case may be), look at how close you are to hitting...then imagine stuffing the tire while turned that far....it gets very close in there.
Then there is the issue of added leverage on all of your front suspension components. This can wear ball joints faster than normal. If you use cheap spacers (the kind that simply fit over your existing wheel studs), you also have less thread engagement on the lug nuts. Obviously, if you use the more expensive spacers, this isn't an issue as they generally use your existing studs to mount the spacer, which has new studs on which you mount the wheels.
I know a number of people using them on strait axles, and they haven't had any problems with them. I don't know of anyone using them on the front of a IFS vehicle, and personally, I would not do it....I would run narrower tires before I ran wheel spacers on a IFS vehicle.
09-05-2006, 08:47 PM
Do you know how large of a spacer you can use and still have enough threads on the studs? Probably not much.
Or preferably, use wheels with more offset to move the tires outward a bit.
09-05-2006, 10:49 PM
I use wheel adapters to reduce the rear spacing of my wheels. I have run them for over 40k with no problems.
I do not like the thin slip "over wheel stud" spacers, for the added stress on wheel studs in an unsupported addition.
I am IFS and run 1.25" on the front and 3" on the rear.
I have been all through the "suspension components wear faster" argument. That doesn't hold water for me. Oversize tires and driving conditions play a bigger part IMO. This is just a way to reduce rear spacing and maintain wheels with matching rear spacing.
I have no fear of them as long as they are a quality unit and maintained properly.
...it can create more rubbing problems on the front end...I would run narrower tires before I ran wheel spacers on a IFS vehicle.
I am blessed with a SFA so no worries there. Good point about the solving-one-problem-only-to-create-another phenomena. While I think I am pretty safe with the added width on the rear, the front would indeed require a closer look.
The type of spacer I am considering is the bolt-on adapter type and those seem to start at a 1" minimum thickness. Again, I think a narrower tire would be the ideal solution, the tires I shoulda got are .4" narrower (each side) and have an increased radius of .75". The additional .4" of clearance might not be enough if I am occasionally rubbing the shocks around town. Of course the increased diameter might create its own set of problems. I wish there was a way to try on a pair of tires before you buy.
But it sounds like the cheapest/easiest approach would still be the bolt on spacers...seems to be an accessory that some people don't like, but others use without problems.
09-06-2006, 01:16 AM
I would only recommend machined aluminum bolt-on spacers - certainly not cast, and not slip-on. That being said, I think installing spacers, or wheels with less backspacing would likely introduce different problems - not necessarily severe ones.
For instance, when you compress your front suspension, your tires tuck nicely within the fenders. I'm just speculating, but I would think that spacers might cause your tires to interfere with the outer edge of your fender upon compression. That is just a theory I have of a potential trade-off you might encounter.
I'd hold out for narrower tires unless your need to alleviate rubbing is dire. Good luck, David! :)
09-06-2006, 02:03 PM
Heres your chance/reason to get another set of "Offroad" rims and tires.!
I would honestly get another set of rims before i went with spacers! Get some cheap black steelies and be done with it.
Spacers are one of those debate items (such as air lockers and optimas :) ). SOme people love them, some wouldnt give them to their worst enemy. Check on Mud in the FJ60 area and there have been 3-4 people that have destroyed spacers and one guy had one fall off even.
For each is own, but if you DO decide on them, make sure they are "Hub Centric" instead of "Lug Centric"
Thats my .02
09-06-2006, 02:27 PM
There are two different products being discussed here.
1) Spacer - sandwiched between hub and wheel. Width is limited by the length of the studs.
2) Adaptor - bolted to hub, then wheel bolted to adaptor. Width is usually at least 3/4 minimum to fit properly.
An adaptor could be used to change bolt pattern or retain the bolt pattern and simply widen the stance.
I know several people running adaptors and have never heard any negative feedback.
Ask around on your Jeep forum for anyone who is running these or contact a mfg. and ask them.
I've heard good feedback about this guy:
I ran Spidertrax 1.25" wheel spacers on my XJ with Rubicon wheels for many on road and off road miles without any mechanical problems, but I did trim the sheetmetal and adjust the bumpstops accordingly.
09-06-2006, 03:39 PM
Wheel spacers can be a safe and effective upgrade. Be sure to research your options as there are different types. Also, correct installation and regular maintence is very critical to ensuring your wheel does not fly off while going 65mph down the interstate. Yes it *can* happen, but often it is because installation and proper maintenence was not performed correctly or regularly.
I have used spacers as have many people I know, all with no problems.
09-06-2006, 11:42 PM
I reviewed a few for S-10CREWCAB.COM (http://www.s-10crewcab.com/phpBB2/index.php) - Ordering wheel spacers / adapters ( comparison and review ) (http://www.s-10crewcab.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=1740)
It is important to look for one that has a large enough diameter to match the hub / wheel mounting surface. Some can be smaller and pose a potential problem. Make sure there is enough beef to prevent swelling near the recess when torquing them down.
Also check the wheel studs. Matching the sock wheel studs might be a good idea, unless you want to carry additional tools for another size lug nut. Heavier studs might be an advantage too though.
In areas prone to oxidation (rust) the mounting surfaces may become uneven Some cleaning may be needed for a good surface match. You are dealing with disimilar metals here , so electrolysis may be an issue as well.
Lots of things to consider. The Ebay wheel adapters that are in that article have been a good product.
09-07-2006, 08:04 AM
Lots of people do use wheel spacers without apparent problems, but keep in mind that you are altering your steering and suspension geometries significantly. To make it easier to visualise the effects, imagine an absurd spacer, say a metre thick. The weight of the vehicle is now being supported more than a metre from the wheel-bearing, which won't be able to survive the extra leverage for long. The springs work harder too.
Also, the king-pins (the "hinges" around which the front wheels swivel when you steer) are no longer vertically in line with the centre-line of the front tyres, they are a metre further inboard!. So when you turn the steering wheel, the front wheels must now swivel around in a big arc within the wheel-arch (i.e moving backwards and forwards in the wheel arch), instead of simply swiveling around their own vertical axis.
When you hit a rock with the front-left wheel (say), the long leverage means that the wheel will be knocked backwards in the wheel arch, jerking the steering wheel in your hands, and causing you to swerve left. (Kinda like the soap-box carts we made as kids, with a rope that steers the whole front axle).
With normal spacers, these problems are manageable, but it's probably as well to be aware of them. The effects are masked by power-steering and supple suspension and good basic construction, but keep in mind that you will be putting more strain on suspension and steering components and wheel bearings.
(The same arguments apply to wheel-rims with large offsets, by the way. Your vehicle was designed to have the centre-line of the tyres centred over the king-pins, and an increasing shift from that position will have an increasingly adverse effect on handling and robustness. Just use narrow tyres! :cool: ).
Thanks for all the input gentlemen...I think as a temporary fix I will just use spacers/adaptors in the back to give my shocks some breathing room and start looking into selling these tires to get some narrower ones...another project on the list!
(:violent-smiley-031: its a demanding habit no? )
09-08-2006, 11:51 AM
I ran spacers for a long time (3+ years), but ended up changing to a custom backspacing that eliminated the need for them. I never had issues with mine but have heard of a lot of problems. Mine were 1/2" and I replaced the stock lugs with longer ones to play it safe. I only run steel wheels on ALL of my 4x4s, don't know if that plays a role in the longevity/safety of the spacer.
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