Are Wheel Spacers Safe?
Spidertrax Wheel Spacers and Wheel Adapters.
What is a wheel spacer? It's just that: a mechanical component that spaces your wheel away from the original wheel mounting surface. They can be as simple as a cast or machined metal spacer that goes on the wheel hub and wheel studs before the wheel, or they can be a separate machined piece of metal that bolts to the wheel hub and wheel studs, much like a miniature wheel. Wheel spacers are used for several reasons, such as adding track width to a vehicle, helping to clear brakes, or to helping alleviate tire rubbing.
A wheel adapter is very similar, and it effectively adds width to your vehicle at the same time as a side effect of what it does. It takes one-wheel bolt pattern and adapts it to a different pattern. This article is mostly about wheel spacers, but as said, these two parts are very similar and most of the information you'll need about wheel spacers is also true for wheel adapters. The only extension on that is that not all wheel bolt patterns can successfully be adapted back and forth.
Both wheel spacers and wheel adapters need to be installed correctly, and they also must be a high-quality part that is designed to fit properly and withstand the rather large loads that these parts can see when driving down a road or on the trail. The use of both wheel spacers and adapters can be a contentious topic because there are drawbacks with their use. Still, they have a place in the off-road world. Here are some good rules of thumb to follow when using or considering the use of wheel spacers or wheel adapters. The included video gives lots of information for the installation and use of a set of Spidertrax Wheel Spacers on a 2018 Mahindra Roxor.
Rules for wheel spacers and adapters:
Use high-quality wheel spacers or adapters from a company that you trust. We trust Spidertrax wheel spacers and wheel adapters.
Follow the included instructions when installing these parts.
Wide wheel spacers or adapters are harder on parts and more likely to cause a failure than narrow wheel spacers or adapters.
Never use impact wrenches on wheel spacers or adapters.
Never stack wheel spacers or adapters.
Never use multi-piece wheel spacers or adapters (that means ones that have two or more parts that bolt together.
Make sure the inner lug nuts and inner wheel studs to not stick out past the outer surface of the wheel spacer or adapter.
Torque the inner lug nuts to spec and use Loctite.
Pros of using wheel spacers or adapters:
Added vehicle width makes your rig more stable in the turns and on sidehills on the trail
They can help with rubbing issues allowing for more steering throw or to prevent tire or vehicle body damage
Cons of using wheel spacers or adapters:
You are adding additional parts to a rotating component of your 4x4 that sees heavy loads. That in and of itself can cause parts to wear more quickly and to eventually fail. A wheel falling off a 4x4 on the road or trail can lead to disaster.
Your scrub radius will be negatively impacted (in almost all cases this is true unless you are using some strange wheels with very deep backspacing.)
Wheel spacers and wheel adapters are harder on steering parts like your axles, ball joints, tie-rod ends, and so on. You are increasing the length of the lever arm that effectively pries on these parts when you drive.
Wheel spacers and wheel adapters are hard on your vehicles wheel bearings for the same reason. You are increasing the mechanical advantage that the wheel and tire have on the wheel bearings, steering parts, and axle housing.