How to Install Wheel Spacers

by William Zane

Wheel spacers are metal spacers that fit between a vehicle's hub and the wheel. Spacers come in a variety of thicknesses and relocate the wheel farther away from the hub. These are used to widen the track of the vehicle, leading to more stability and better handling, which is why they are often used on racecars. Wheel spacers can also make a car look better by locating the wheel in a more visually aggressive position. There are two types of spacers: One type simply slide onto the hub, while the other type bolt to the vehicle's wheel studs. Bolt-on spacers have another set of studs that the wheel installs onto.

Park your car or truck on a level surface. Loosen the lug nuts that fasten the wheel to the hub. Slide a floor jack under the car at the appropriate point and jack up the car. Lower the car onto a jack stand. Repeat this process until all four corners are supported on a jack stand.

Finish removing the lug nuts. Slide the wheels off the hub and set them out of the way. Spray degreaser on the lug studs and wipe them down with a rag. If they are very dirty, use a wire brush to clean up the threads. Wipe down the hub surface where the wheel installs, as well.

Slide the wheel spacer onto the studs, if it is not the bolt-on type. Line the holes in the spacer up with the wheel studs and then slide the spacer over the studs until it seats firmly against the hub. Some vehicle (BMWs for instance) use lug bolts that thread into the hub. In this case, line up the spacer with the holes in the hub.

Place the wheel spacer onto the studs, if it is a bolt-on wheel spacer. Install the lug nuts onto the studs so that the spacer is bolted to the hub. The bolts will come with the spacer, but are also available at auto parts stores if they are not with the spacer. Tighten the nuts that hold the spacer in place to the specifications outlined in the directions. This will likely be around 90 foot-pounds.

Slide the wheel onto the lug studs so that it seats firmly against the spacer. Install the lug nuts (or lug bolts) with the lug wrench and tighten them. Repeat for the other corners of the vehicle.

Slide the floor jack under the car and lift the vehicle so that the jack stands can be removed. Lower the vehicle to the ground, one corner at a time.

Tighten the lug nuts with a torque wrench in a crisscross, star pattern. Tighten them to the manufacturer's recommended setting, which should be anywhere from 70 to 90 foot-pounds, depending on the vehicle. Check the tightness of the lug nuts after the vehicle has been driven 100 miles.

Items you will need

About the Author

William Zane has been a freelance writer and photographer for over six years and specializes primarily in automotive-related subject matter among many other topics. He has attended the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, where he studied automotive design, and the University of New Mexico, where he studied journalism.