The wheel spacers are an element that allows you to widen the track of the vehicle, that is the space of the driving lane occupied by the car in motion. In other words, this accessory creates an effect of the increased width of the car, giving it larger proportions, slender and with a sporty line.
This spacing of the wheels then makes it possible to greatly improve the car’s grip on the road, guaranteeing greater stability, as the conflict between brakes, rims and compressions is eliminated. Having made this general premise, let’s now analyze some of the more specific characteristics of this component.
Wheel spacers are generally made of aluminum with the addition of an added magnesium. It is a very resistant metal alloy that is then further hardened through an anodizing process, it consists in the electrolytic production of an oxide substrate which increases the hardness and scratch resistance of this component. There are also steel models with a much heavier weight than those in light alloys.
Choice and assembly
The choice of spacers must be made very carefully, first of all taking into account the structure of the rim and the wheel hub. It is also recommended to always opt for original products from certified companies, which ensure product quality, efficiency, and safety. If your car breaks down in the middle of the road you can call the towing service near your area.
During the assembly phase, it is also necessary to know that they will greatly influence the suspensions, which could also cause rapid wear of the bearings of these. For assembly, it is first necessary to take the measurements of the distance between the edge of the mudguard and the tire, also taking into consideration the diameter of the hub, which must be suitable for the spacer, with the part that must be on the same line.
The fixing screws, at least 10-12 mm, should never protrude from the rim mounting surface. In general, the installation of the spacers is a fairly similar process, which takes an average of 15 minutes. However, it is advisable to carry out the operation in full concentration and precisely, using the appropriate tools.
Spacers are usually purchased as a kit, which primarily consists of circular spacers with nine holes. The disc must be inserted on one of the wheel bearings through the central hole; the spacer is then attached to the wheel with the screws supplied in the kit.
For correct assembly, after purchasing the necessary kit, you need the following tools: 1 wheel wrench or one for 100 mm nuts; 1 car jack and, if necessary, a jack and wheel chocks.
It is then recommended to follow the instructions below:
- Make sure the engine is off, the parking brake is pulled, and the key has been removed.
- Loosen the wheel screws to prevent the tires from turning during unscrewing; it is recommended to do this when the car has not yet been raised.
- Raise the car with an elevator or by using the vehicle jack, which must be positioned correctly and precisely on the corresponding points of the frame. Note that incorrect positioning of the jack could cause serious damage to the car.
- Since caution is never too much, if you work with a jack it is better to secure the car with the appropriate wedges in order to prevent it from moving.
- After loosening the screws, lifting and securing the machine, you can easily remove the wheel.
- Once the wheel has been removed, the spacer can be installed, following the instructions contained in the installation manual supplied with the kit. During this phase, it is necessary to make sure that all the screws are tightened in a crisscross pattern.
- Once this is done, you can proceed to reinstall the wheel, fixing it with the prescribed copy.
- Once the spacers have been installed, it is then necessary to register the modification of the roadway, since, during the overhaul of the car the correct installation, the dimensions, and the production brand of these components are checked. All these data must be present in the vehicle approval document. The non-registration of the carriageway increase of the car entails a financial penalty.
Types of wheel spacers
On the market, there is a very wide range of these components which in practice allows you to find the right spacer for each type of car.
Considering that the vehicle’s widening margin ranges from 5 to 90 mm per side, let’s now give a brief overview of the three most common types:
- Spacers without centering fringe – Being thinner, the rim is centered on the hub flange and slightly longer screws are required for assembly than standard ones.
- Spacer with centering flange – If a widening greater than 6 mm per side is desired, the use of a spacer with a centering ring is recommended. For assembly, a longer screw will be required: as a rule, the excess length will be equal to half of the spacer. The use of standard screws is not possible.
- Spacer screwed on the hub – This type of spacer provides the maximum possibility of enlargement; the component is fixed with screws specially supplied in the kit, which replace the traditional ones. With the screw housings, there are threaded holes in the spacer, to which the wheel is screwed using the screws from the factory equipment.
However, the increase in the car’s track width is subject to legal limits, which must be strictly respected. The maximum width of the track ends in fact at 5 mm from the mudguard: this for safety reasons in order to avoid an excessive protrusion of the wheel, which could act as a sling against objects (small stones, pieces of glass, various fragments, etc.) hit by it during the race, catapulting them dangerously backward.
By law it is clearly forbidden – but it is a rule that unfortunately many forget – the use of “homemade” spacers: only components in accordance with the law, tested and approved, can be installed on the car.
Advantages and disadvantages of wheel spacers
The undoubted advantage of the spacers undoubtedly consists in a better grip of the car on the road, especially when you have to take curves, as well as – this clearly according to personal tastes – in improving the aesthetic appearance of the car creating the effect of greater proportions.
Alongside the advantages, however, some disadvantages and drawbacks that can be encountered must be kept in mind. First of all, the suspension parameters are changed, in some cases even radically. Bearings are exposed to much faster and faster wear. It can also have a negative impact on the entire steering mechanism, the components of which can also wear out faster. Negative repercussions could then also be had on the crankshaft components.