Are Wheel Spacers and Wheel Adapters Safe?
Wheel spacers are normally used when there is a clearance problem with brakes, tie rods and other components. By spacing out the wheel, you can gain a small amount of clearance for tie rod ends, brake calipers, etc. For these applications, a 1/4″ spacers is normally used between the wheel and hub to gain the necessary clearance. The problem here is with a spacer installed, you then have far fewer threads on your wheel studs for your lug nuts to safely hold your wheels on. As long as you have at least 7 full threads for the lug nut to thread on to, these thin spacers normally work fine. Every vehicle is different, sometimes even from the front to the rear wheels, so carefully inspect each for safe installation.
Thicker wheels spacers are also available. Their purpose is to push the wheels out farther. Many Jeep owners use these to widen the track width and gain stability while rock crawling. Most are imported products and made from a low grade aluminum and are approximately 1.25″ thick. These bolt on using the factory wheel studs and have other studs built into the spacers to bolt your wheels back on. These spaces are typically made from either cast aluminum or machined from billet aluminum (aircraft grade). Any cast aluminum product (spacer, wheel, etc.) is a mixture of molten/liquid aluminum with and poured into a mold to create the desired shape. They typically have sand or a similar product added to the molten metal to help it flow into all the crevices of the mold. Although many of these spacers work fine, we have seen several of these adapters crack and fail many times. 4 Wheel Parts will not install these, nor will we sell them as a carryout item. These are a “buyer beware” item. However, there are some high grade spacers available in limited bolt patterns. A spacer made from billet aluminum is a block of solid aluminum that is either forged or milled into the desired shape. These types of spacers are quite a bit stronger than their cast alternatives. Due to the process and work involved in building them, they also cost more. If you need spacers, we recommend you purchase the highest quality ones available to reduce the risk of failure.
Wheel adapters are just like the thicker wheel spacers above, but they are designed to change from one bolt pattern to another. An example would be so you could install Ford wheels on a Chevy. Most of these are imported and made of a low grade aluminum. These are also about 1.25″ thick. Although many of these adapters work well, we’ve also seen these crack and fail several times. For customers insistent on having these, we do sell them. However, we won’t install them for safety reasons. Again, buyer beware. There are some higher quality manufacturer’s of these such as Poison Spyder, Transdapt and American Force to name a few.
Only you can determine what you are comfortable installing on your vehicle. The experts at 4 Wheel Parts are hear to help you make the RIGHT decisions when it comes to choosing accessories. Sometimes it costs more to do it right. But that’s the price of being safe.