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How Do Wheel Spacers Work?

by Contributor

Purpose and Function

Wheel spacers are designed to space the wheel away from the car on larger tires. The bolts in the wheel spacers match the holes to the tire hub, and come with studs that secure the spacers to the wheels. The bolts through the wheel spacers are also called studs. These studs are what hold the wheels onto the vehicle. The studs are mounted to the disc hub/brake drum. In this arrangement, the wheels and the spacers are fitted together compactly, as if they were one solid unit. When you fit the wheel onto the studs, place a lug nut over each stud, and then tighten them with a wrench. This secured arrangement allows for even, level driving on all four tires, without the risk of the tire or spacers flying off. If you're doing off-road driving, install wheel spacers for a smoother and safer off-road driving experience.

Types

All wheel spacers create stress on the vehicle's hub and axle. Aluminum and urethane wheel spacers add that little extra balance needed for off-road type vehicles (all terrain vehicles) and recreational driving. With off-road vehicles the spacers are attached to press in studs that are already on the ATV or four-wheeler motorcycle. Some wheel spacers, however, do require that the press-in studs be taken out from the wheel hub before placing the wheel spacers on the wheel. In this case, extra-long bolts are driven through the entire arrangement (hub holes, wheels and wheel spacers).

Installation

Mount one wheel spacer per each tire. Work on level ground with the emergency brake secure. Make sure to loosen up the lug nuts on the wheel of choice before you jack the car off the ground. After loosening the wheel, place the jack under the car and lift the wheel slightly off the ground (not more than 1 inch off the ground). Remove the lug nuts completely from the wheel using your fingers. Take the wheel off. Install wheel spacers onto the wheel studs with a torque wrench (Using a torque wrench helps you avoid having a wheel fall off the vehicle while you are driving.). Bolt the wheels in place. Tighten each lug nut to the correct value (foot per pound). Install the wheels onto the spacers, and secure with bolts and wrench. Have a friend step on the brake pedal when you tighten the bolts. Remember to check your spacers once a month for loose bolts.

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