A lot of people are interested in how to install wheel spacers and even if the process is not rocket science, you still need to pay attention to some essential aspects that will make your job successful. This is why we have decided to make a detailed tutorial in order for you to install them in less time and in order for them to be installed correctly.
There are some things that we need to cover first, like what the purpose of a wheel spacer is and so on so that when you finish reading this article, you will be able to do this like a pro. First of all, let’s cover the essentials.
What are wheel spacers used for?
Have you ever seen a movie with a massive car that gave the impression it is elevated above the wheels? Well, that big impressive car most certainly has wheel spacers. There are several reasons why people decide to install wheel spacers and a lot of them do it for their cars to have a more impressive appearance.
However, there are a few reasons which are more technical and the truth is that besides having a bad-ass car, wheel spacers come with some benefits which are important to be mentioned.
- Better stability and handling of the car, especially when cornering or when you have to turn your car around.
- The weight will be evenly distributed because the wheels will be a little bit further apart from one another.
- Giving a correct offset in case you have a new rim that is not the perfect fit.
There are also some downsides that come along with installing wheel spacers that are worth mentioning, like the reduction of the lifespan of the wheels. The most important downside that wheel spacers have is the fact that, if installed incorrectly, and we want to emphasize this, if installed incorrectly, they can be the cause of accidents.
In the United States, there are many accidents every day due to incorrect installation of wheel spacers, and this is why it is essential that you read this article in order to prevent such accidents and stay safe. So let’s talk about how to install them properly.
Tips before you start:
- Pro tip 1: Measure how much you can move the wheel outward before hitting the bodywork using a tape measure. Always keep in mind that you will need some space for the body roll and suspension movement.
- Pro tip 2: don’t measure the space for just one wheel, but for all four. This is essential because many times they are not exactly the same, so it is important that you know your measurements well before you start installing your wheel spacers.
- Pro tip 3: Read the instructions manual provided by the manufacturer from top to bottom before you engage in installing your wheel spacers because you might do something wrong if you don’t know what step you need to take next.
- Pro tip 4: after you have installed the wheel spacers, ride your car for 50 miles and check if they are still in the initial position and that they have not loosened up.
The supplies that you need before you start:
- A torque wrench
- A wire brush
- A bottle of degreaser
- An automotive jack
- A tire iron
- A pair of gloves in order to protect your hands, but if you can’t work well using them, you can leave them behind
- A shop rag
Decide what type of wheel spacers you want to install
There are 2 types of wheel spacers: slip-on and bolt-on. Slip-on wheel spacers are easily installed because they are designed to simply slip onto the stud. There will be enough room left for your wheels to fit over them.
The downside of slip-on wheel spacers is that, depending on the wheels, they might not fit in properly and you can risk an accident if you don’t know how to check if they are correctly installed. Therefore, a more secure option, if you want to install them yourself, is to use bolt-on spacers that use bolts in order to be secured onto the hub.
Make sure that your car is on a level surface
This is important because all the wheels have to be on the same line when you do the installation. The first thing you need to do is to let the lug nuts loose in order to detach the wheel from the hub. Now you have to elevate the car and place a slide floor jack under each of four sides of the car near the wheels.
- Pro tip 1: Never take off the lug nuts before you have elevated the car even though you have loosened them.
- Pro tip 2: If the car is lifted with only one floor jack, you should never get under the car in order to work because this is how most accidents happen and you could be killed by the weight of the car.
Remove the lug nuts
As we have said before, it is essential to do this after the car is elevated. Take the wheels of the hubs and put them aside. After that, you need to clean the lug nuts with degreaser and if they are very dirty, you can use the wire brush that we have mentioned before.
Everything has to be cleaned and degreased, so you should wipe down all the surfaces of the hub, especially where the wheel was installed.
Put the wheel spacer onto the stud
If you are using a bolt-free wheel spacer, you should slide it on the studs. The important thing you have to pay attention to now is the holes in the wheel spacer. They have to fit the studs of the wheel, so make sure that you align them correctly if you want the wheel spacer to fit. Make sure that you slide it until you feel that it has a strong fit onto the hub.
If you are using a bolt-on wheel spacer, on the other hand, you have to put it onto the bolts and after that, you have to attach the lug nuts onto the bolts as well. You should thoroughly install the lug nuts in order for the wheel spacer to not be able to slide off. In case you don’t get the bolts in the package, you can buy them separately.
After you have attached it, you will need to use your torque wrench in order to hold it in place to the proper specifications.
- Pro tip 1: Before you put the wheel spacer onto the studs, you can use some special adhesive in order for them to be well-positioned. You can ask for a specialized one at your local store.
- Pro tip 2: Follow the exact instructions that the manufacturers give you and try not to hold the nuts too tight or too loose because this can cause accidents.
Install the lug nuts
It is essential here that you use the original lug nuts because they are the perfect fit. For a proper sitting of the bolts, try to tighten them using a star pattern. If you don’t follow this step thoroughly, you might not be safe while using the wheel spacers, so make sure to do it properly.
Do this for all 4 wheels
After you have repeated these steps for all the wheels and you have put the wheels back on, you can lower the car and slowly remove all the jacks. You have to be careful to lower the car for each wheel in part in order to do it safely.
Do a checkup
If you have followed all the steps above, now a great practice is to check if you have tightened everything according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This is something that you can do occasionally if you want to be sure that you are driving safely all the time. It will not damage anything if you make it a habit to do this every week.
Frequently asked questions:
- Can I install any wheel spacers on my car?
The answer to this question is ‘not quite’. This is because there are some wheel spacers that can fit multiple vehicles, but some of them are specially made for a type of car. This is why it is best that you check with the manufacturer before you decide to buy wheel spacers.
- Will my car work with just 2 wheel spacers?
Yes, it will. However, it is not a good practice because, as we have said before in this article, when you use 4 wheel spacers, the weight is distributed evenly on every wheel. If you use only 2, this balance will be disturbed and, according to the car model you are driving, it could create serious issues.
Obviously, the best choice for the installation of wheel spacers is to take your car to a professional. However, if you want to install them yourself, you will be able to do so, but you have to be careful to check if you have installed them correctly because, if not, as we have said in the first section of our article, you will be at risk of having an accident.