Wheel spacers are commonly used to improve the stance/looks of a vehicle by bringing the wheels further out towards the arch.
They are also used when the wheel is 'touching' an inner suspension component.
Wheel spacer shims are most commonly used to to push the wheel out 3-7MM as the inside of the rim is hitting a suspension component. These spacers are not required to be 'hubcentric' as the cars original hub lip extends through these and into the wheel due to width being only 3-7MM.
Uses: Wheel hitting inner suspension component, improve stance
What to look for: Make sure the spacers PCD (bolt pattern) matches that of your car. Often they are universal and will fit a wide variety of PCD's. Does the kit include bolts? You will want bolts 5MM longer than stock. Make sure the centerbore of the shim is either the same size, or bigger than your vehicles centerbore.
The most common type of spacer usually used for improving the stance/looks of a vehicle.
These spacers go in between your wheel and the hub, then you use extended bolts will go through the wheel, through the spacer and into the hub.
Uses: Improve stance
What to look for: Only use hubcentric spacers when going wider than a 7MM spacer. The hub lip on your car will slide into the spacer, and a new hub lip will extend from the spacer into your wheel. Quality does matter with these spacers, forged spacers are the best of the best, do not settle for less, cast spacers are not made to the same tolerances and may cause vibrations if not completely true.
Bolted spacers are used on cars that have studs protruding from the hub instead of bolts that go in.
Bolted spacers also allow you to change the PCD of a vehicle.
Use case: Sam has a 1995 Nissan S13, Sams wheel sit 25MM in the arch and Sam wants them to be inline with the arch for cosmetic reasons. Sam bolts the spacers to his car using the supplied nuts with the spacers. The spacers are now bolted to the car and will stay there even when a wheel is removed. The spacer has new studs protruding from it, Sam fits the wheel the same way he would without spacers, using the studs that protrude from the new spacer and using his standard wheel nuts.
What to look out for: Make sure the inside centerbore of the spacer matches your car and that the outside centerbore matches your wheel. Make sure the studs on the spacer match the same stud thread as original so your standard wheel nuts still fit.
Bolted spacers with bolts are commonly used when using a spacer over 30MM wide.
Bolted spacers are also used to allow quicker wheel changes without re-fitting the spacer each time you take a wheel off.
Bolted spacers are also used to change the PCD of a vehicle.
Use case1 : Jack has a 2015 BMW 5 Series. Jacks BMW is 5x120 PCD. The wheels Jack wants to purchase are only made in 5x112. Jack bolts a bolted spacer to his BMW (5x120), then bolts the wheel to the spacers (5x112)
Use case 2: Daniel wants to fit 50MM spacers to his BMW M3, Daniels BMW has wider fenders than factory and needs the wheels to sit inline with his fenders. Jack uses his BMW on track and is constantly change tyres and wheel combos, he uses a bolted spacer instead of a bolt through spacer as he wants the spacer to stay in place when changing his wheels for speed.
What to look out for: Make sure the inside centerbore of the spacer matches your car and that the outside centerbore matches your wheel. Make sure the bolt hole thread on the spacer matches your car so you can use your original wheel bolts.
Spacers are completely safe when done correctly
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