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Wheel Spacers Pros And Cons

Did you ever wish your car could turn heads as you drive down the road? Or maybe you’ve wanted better handling or a way to upgrade your brakes without any fuss.

Whatever your wish, it could be that wheel spacers are the answer.

Wheel Spacers Pros And Cons

Pros Cons
Aesthetics Additional Strain
Handling Altering Vehicle Dynamics
Clearance Installation Errors
Wheel Fitment Quality of Spacers

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of wheel spacers. We’ll look at what they are, the pros and cons of using them, and tackle the all-important question: are wheel spacers safe?

Let’s take a closer look.

wheel spacer
Example Of A Wheel Spacer Used To Increase Offset

What Are Wheel Spacers?

Wheel spacers are a neat little invention that car enthusiasts and professionals use to tweak their rides. They may look like simple metal rings, but they actually play a pretty important role in your car’s setup.

Think of them as the peanut butter in a PB&J sandwich. Just like peanut butter goes between the two slices of bread, wheel spacers are installed between your vehicle’s wheel and the wheel hub (that’s the central part your wheel attaches to).

The result? Your wheels stick out a little further from the side of your car, truck, or SUV.

Now, you might be wondering: “Why on earth would anyone want to do that?” Good question! People use wheel spacers for a few different reasons that we’ll explore in this article, including:

  • To make their vehicle look cooler or more aggressive
  • To improve the way their vehicle handles on the road
  • To create more room for bigger brakes or other parts
  • To fit a set of wheels that wouldn’t normally fit their car or truck

There are two main types of wheel spacers you might come across: slip-on spacers and bolt-on spacers.

Slip-On Spacers: Just like their name suggests, these spacers simply slip onto your wheel hub. They’re a bit like a second skin for your hub, and your wheel goes right on top of them. They’re the simpler of the two types and are usually used when you only need a small adjustment.

Bolt-On Spacers: These guys are a bit more complex. They bolt onto your wheel hub and then provide a new set of studs for your wheel to attach to. If you need a bigger adjustment, or your wheels don’t fit over slip-on spacers, these are the go-to choice.

sweet miata
Miata With Nice Fitment

Pros of Wheel Spacers

Alright, now that you know what wheel spacers are, let’s talk about why people use them. After all, if you’re going to put something new on your vehicle, it better be for a good reason, right? Here’s the scoop:


Let’s be honest, how our cars look matters to us. A set of wheel spacers can give your ride a more muscular, beefy look because they push the wheels out wider. This makes your vehicle look more aggressive and might just make heads turn as you drive by.


Here’s a cool fact: race cars often have their wheels set wide apart. Ever wonder why? It’s because a wider wheelbase (that’s the distance between the wheels on each side) can improve how a car handles. When your car’s wheels are pushed out further, the weight of the vehicle is spread out better. This can help your car stay stable when you’re making sharp turns or maneuvers. It’s like how a gymnast spreads their arms out to keep balance on a beam.


Sometimes, especially when you’re upgrading your vehicle, things get a bit tight. Maybe you want bigger brakes that won’t fit with your current wheel setup. Or perhaps your tires are rubbing against the inside of your car’s wheel well. Wheel spacers can help here by pushing your wheels out and away from the body of the car. This creates a little more space or “clearance” for those new parts to fit.

Wheel Fitment

This one’s pretty straightforward. Let’s say you’ve got a set of wheels that you love, but they just don’t fit your car. Maybe the bolt holes don’t line up, or they sit too close to something inside your wheel well. Wheel spacers can help you make those wheels fit, by adjusting how the wheels sit on your car.

best tires for canyon driving
Tire Performance On The Road

Cons of Wheel Spacers

Wheel spacers can be pretty great, but just like anything else, they have their downsides. We’re going to give you the full picture, so you can make the best decision for your ride. Here are some things to consider:

Additional Strain

When you install wheel spacers, you’re changing how your vehicle was originally designed to work. Because the wheels are further out, parts like your wheel bearings and suspension have to work harder to keep everything running smoothly. It’s a bit like trying to lift a heavy box with your arms fully stretched out—it’s a lot harder than when the box is close to your body. This extra strain might mean more frequent repairs down the road.

Altering Vehicle Dynamics

Pushing your wheels out changes your car’s balance and handling. Sometimes, this can be a good thing, like we talked about earlier. But it can also make your car behave differently, especially when you’re driving fast or need to dodge something in the road quickly. It’s important to remember that just because race cars use wide wheelbases doesn’t mean it’s always the best setup for everyday driving.

Installation Errors

This one’s big. Wheel spacers need to be installed correctly. If they’re not, you could end up with a wheel that’s loose or, even worse, a wheel that comes off while you’re driving. That’s scary and dangerous. If you decide to use wheel spacers, make sure they’re installed by a professional, or if you’re doing it yourself, follow the instructions very, very carefully.

Quality of Spacers

Not all wheel spacers are created equal. Some are well-made and will do their job just fine. But others, especially the cheaper ones, might not be as good. Cheap or poorly made spacers can crack, break, or not fit correctly, all of which can be dangerous. Like most things in life, you tend to get what you pay for.

vehicle accident

Are Wheel Spacers Safe?

Like many things, wheel spacers are as safe as you make them. That might sound a bit vague, but here’s the thing: if you choose high-quality spacers, have them installed correctly, and check them regularly, they can be perfectly safe. They’re used widely in the automotive world, from everyday drivers to high-performance race cars. But, if any one of those pieces isn’t up to par, you could run into problems.

Responsible Use

Remember, wheel spacers change how your vehicle handles. They can make your car feel more stable during turns, but they can also make it react differently at high speeds or during sudden maneuvers. So, if you choose to use wheel spacers, it’s crucial to understand how they change your car’s behavior and drive responsibly.

Professional Installation and Regular Checks

If there’s one thing you take away from this section, let it be this: professional installation and regular checks are key. Wheel spacers need to be installed correctly and checked often to make sure they’re still safe. This is not the place to cut corners. If you’re not 100% sure you can install them correctly yourself, get a professional to do it.

Quality Matters

Lastly, remember what we said about the quality of spacers. Not all wheel spacers are created equal. Lower-quality spacers can crack, break, or fit poorly, leading to dangerous situations. So, choose wisely and don’t be afraid to spend a little extra for better quality.

hub centric vs lug centric
Hub Centric Vs Lug Centric

Hub Centric Vs Lug Centric Spacers

Hub centric and lug centric refer to how the spacer aligns with your car’s wheels. It’s all about where the spacer centers itself. Is it centered around the hub of your wheel (hub centric)? Or does it line up with the lug nuts or bolts (lug centric)? That’s the basic difference. But let’s go a bit deeper.

Hub Centric Spacers

Hub centric spacers are designed to fit snugly over your vehicle’s hub. They align with the center hole in your wheel, creating a direct line from the hub to the wheel. This is a good thing because it means the vehicle’s weight is supported by the hub, not the wheel studs.

Think of hub centric spacers like a perfectly sized lid on a pot. They fit just right, covering the hub and providing a solid, stable base for your wheels.

These spacers are generally considered safer and more stable, and they’re the type most professionals recommend for most applications.

Lug Centric Spacers

Lug centric spacers, on the other hand, don’t have that snug fit over the hub. Instead, they line up with the lug nuts or bolts. This means they can be a bit less stable because the vehicle’s weight is being supported by the wheel studs, not the hub.

Lug centric spacers are like a lid that doesn’t quite fit the pot. It still covers the pot, but it might slide around a bit. This can lead to uneven wear on your wheel studs and potential issues down the line.

These spacers are generally less recommended, especially for high-speed or heavy-duty applications. They can work for some people and some vehicles, but it’s important to understand the potential risks before choosing them.


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Final Thoughts

Just like how a well-tuned car turns heads on the road, we hope this deep dive into wheel spacers has caught your attention and answered some key questions you might have had.

Wheel spacers can be a valuable addition to your vehicle, improving its aesthetics, handling, and even making room for that much-desired brake upgrade.

However, the safety and effectiveness of wheel spacers hinge on quality choices and correct installation. So if you decide to take this route, be smart about it.

Good luck and happy motoring.

About The Author
Will Creech
Will has been an automotive enthusiast since he was old enough to make engine sounds. Formerly a member of the contract training team at Discount Tire, he is unusually knowledgeable on all things related to tires. He is now the owner of and main contributor to TireGrades.com.
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