Spacers: Looks worth the risk

Reviews

There are rumors about the dangers of wheel spacers, which are used when the offset of a wheel is not ideal for the end look you’re going for. They go in between the hub of the axle and the rim, adding distance between them. Spacers bolt onto the studs of an axle in place of the wheel and have studs themselves for the wheels to attach to. Whether it’s because the axles are too narrow or the fact that there’s not enough rim offset, wheel spacers can push your tires and wheels out to where you want them under your fender.

So, are they dangerous to use? It depends.

The high-quality wheel spacers that are made of billet aluminum are just as strong, if not stronger than the wheel hubs they attach to. When installed properly, you should have no problems; however, it is when people buy cheap spacers, don’t use proper torque specs, and don’t use a thread locker that they run into issues. Spacers have two main applications: to widen the track width and to change the bolt pattern.

The only benefits of spacers are that they can make your car look better and give it a wider stance for a better approach angle on trails. There are many dangers, including that increasing the offset of the wheel places more stress on the axle’s studs. In a front-axle application, more stress is placed on the axle’s bearings (or spindles) and ball joints. Also, if not installed correctly, the spacer can detach from the rim while you are driving. This is a risk many people are not willing to take.

I was recently in the market for a set of tire spacers, and I was choosing between 1.5”, 2”, and 3” spacers. While I think 3” would have looked the best, they were more expensive and put significantly more stress on the car’s studs and ball joints. However, I did not think the 1.5” spacer would give me the aggressive tire look I was going for.

I shopped around with prices varying from $90 to $200; I chose 2” wheel spacers by Titan as a final choice. These were around $140 for a set of four, well-reviewed, made from high-quality aluminum, with a black finish so they wouldn’t stick out through the rim. I also was able to get a good deal on a set of lug nuts for my rims included in a package deal for only $20 extra. Installing these spacers was a breeze. I had to jack the car up, take off the wheels, put the spacer on using a tread locker, tighten it down to 100lbf using a torque wrench, then put the wheels back on with an impact drill and finish it off with a torque wrench as well. The tread locker was put on the spacer to make sure the driving vibrations did not knock the bolt loose while I was on the road.

While I am very happy with the results, I wish I could go just a bit wider on the spacers for a better look. Unfortunately, I know I cannot do so without putting too much force on the joints. However, the 2” spacer I installed gives the car a much more aggressive and better look than it did from the factory.