Wheel spacers are a great tool in the right hands. They can alter wheel offset and allow the installation of bigger wheels. But they are only safe when their size is correct and the installation process goes smoothly. To determine what size of wheel spacers you need, try putting flat screw washers onto the studs and then installing a wheel back on. This method only works for finding the exact distance you need to put between the wheel and the car body. Do not try to drive while your wheel has washers on the studs. It is dangerous and not worth it.
Determining the right size can be really tricky. You can try online calculators and other tools, but if you are familiar with installing wheels or have some time on your hands, it is best if you actually use this method. Adding washers one by one will allow you to see how much more space you need to create to fit a new set of wheels or larger brake calipers.
This method is also great for those who want to change offset for no other reason than a purely aesthetic choice. Numbers are abstract, but washers actually push the wheel further, making it look exactly how it should after the upgrade.
What Washers to Use?
If you're looking for a precise spacer thickness for your vehicle, plain flat washers are the perfect option. Not only are they affordable and easy to use, but they also provide an instant solution that won't break the bank. Furthermore, plain flat washers provide maximum compatibility across all brake systems, requiring no extra modifications or upgrades.
Do not try to use lock washers, split washers or plastic washers, as they may succumb to the pressure under fastening. To ensure strength and longevity when securing objects, it is best to choose flat washers made from resilient materials such as stainless steel or aluminum alloys. As an added bonus, these premium-grade products are also accessible and cost-efficient online.
Prior to attaching wheel washers, check that the center hole has a fitting diameter for your bolt or wheel stud. If not, you will not be able to fit them on the studs. Once the washers are secured and your wheels fit, be sure to install them correctly using high-quality lug nuts and torque wrenches for safety and longevity.
To use this particular strategy you will need to put multiple washers on each stud or bolt, for instance a conventional 5-bolt wheel may demand as many as 8 washers per stud (assuming a 1" maximum spacer thickness). In other, more drastic projects, you might require up to all 50 washers from the box. For under $6, you can purchase a box of 50 5/16" washers that are suitable for multiple purposes.
To ensure the most accurate results, we advise using identical diameter and thickness when conducting this experiment. So if you happen to have some spare flat washers casually lying around, make sure they are from the same set and have identical thickness and diameter. Otherwise, it would be best to buy a new box to make the fitting and measuring process easier for you.
How to Determine Wheel Spacer Size with Washers?
The technique for measuring wheel spacer size with washers slightly differs for wheels with lug nuts and lug bolts.
Finding the appropriate thickness of your spacer is absolutely critical for ensuring successful customization. Although it can be difficult to gauge, you can use measurements from your wheel/tire combination and make an educated guess as to how much further out the wheel should go.
Acquiring the right spacers, however, is not an easy feat. It’s implausible to purchase various dimensions of spacers and perform a trial-and-error approach to figure out which ones will work in your project.
For wheels with lug bolts: When working on wheels with lug bolts, add washers to the bolts on the backside of the wheel and ensure they are kept in place by orienting the wheel vertically. Before tightening, adjust the number of washers as needed and measure the total thickness used on one wheel bolt for correct fitment.
For wheels with lug nuts: While working on wheels that use lug nuts (studs projecting from the hub), start by placing a small number of washers on each stud. Test fit the wheel and carefully check for clearance with the caliper. If more clearance is necessary, add additional washers one at a time.
What Size Wheel Spacers are Best?
The best wheel spacers are the most fitting for your vehicle. In other words, these are the most reliable options in terms of safety on the road and interference with performance. Spacers alter offset, so they have some impact on handling and steering. Remember that suspension will also feel the difference in distance between the wheels.
This is why testing the size with washers is necessary. By altering the number of washers you can determine exactly how thick you need your spacer to be to get you closer to the goal. This method will also help to cut down the extra millimeters you could have added for good measure. Adding as little as possible while still making sufficient changes is a good way to play safe.
The most common size for wheel spacers is 2 inches. These are not too small and too big for the majority of modern trucks and cars. This distance is usually enough to get clearance for suspension or brakes without threatening the fender lip. And usually, it creates a visible change in offset without overdoing it.
What Size Wheel Spacers are Safe?
The washers method is a great opportunity to test the safety of the size you pick for the spacer. A wheel spacer size is considered safe if it creates enough clearance for suspension, brakes and car body on one side and for the fender lip on the other. Washers act like a spacer creating custom offset and backspacing for the wheel, and you can move it around to check if the wheel touches anything in the process.
If your goal is to make space for other parts, you can keep the number of washers as low as possible for that purpose. The change will be slight in terms of how the wheels look but it would still be sufficient for your goals. The best practice with spacers is to make them as small as possible.
Keeping the wheel spacers' size as small as you can is important to maintain the overall performance. Don't forget that while you can increase the track width with spacers, your vehicle's suspension will remain at the same spot. So the more distance you put between the wheels, the more stress will apply to the suspension parts.
Is A 2-inch Spacer Too Much?
The honest answer is it depends. For most vehicles, 2-inch wheel spacers are just about right. But it also depends on the wheels, their size, stock offset and fender size. There are too many variables to say for sure for just any vehicle, but generally speaking, 2-inch spacers can be considered safe and effective if the clearance allows it.
Most car manufacturers leave space for wheel customization and it is usually enough to fit 2-inch wheel spacers. In contrast, another car model will easily fit even bigger spacers without any modifications. The problem with 2-inch+ spacers is that you will probably need longer lug bolts or studs to keep them secured. Regular-sized studs can prove to be inefficient because they fail to provide enough thread engagement.
Overall, the best size for wheel spacers depends on your vehicle's specifications. It is always possible to add more washers to increase the distance and help you reach your perfect spacer size. But keep in mind that too big of a spacer can threaten safety and performance. The safest option is always to pick something reasonable and test it first before fully committing.
How Much Offset Does a Spacer Add?
Wheel spacers do not add wheel offset, but they reduce it, moving it further into the negative range. When looking for a wheel spacer, bear in mind that with every single inch of spacer width, you will get about -25mm offset. That is because the distance from the hub assembly to the centerline of any given wheel is getting bigger. And that means that the overall offset is decreased, and it becomes less positive.
With the abundance of wheel spacers available in various thicknesses, customizing your wheels' offset should be easy. But before installing, it is important to carefully consider the size and type of spacer that will be compatible with your current vehicle's wheels and tires.
Can You Use Washers as Spacers?
You should not mess around with your wheels. They are not an accessory, but a safety feature that allows your vehicle to move and brake safely. For this reason, you should not use washers as a temporary replacement for a spacer. Driving with a few washers piled up on studs or bolts is not safe at all. It can result in a loose wheel.
Washers are only good for mock-up spacer width. It shows how much offset you will have with a certain spacer size. They help you figure out if you have enough clearance for suspension, brakes and fenders. But they are unable to guarantee that the wheel stays intack if you attempt to drive with washers still on.
The main problem with using washers on wheel lug bolts and studs is that it is impossible to torque them down properly. So even if you do not plan on using washers instead of spacers, you still should not use them under the lug nuts. This is not a helpful life hack at all. It might seem tempting in some situations, for instance if you lack a few millimeters of clearance or want to compensate for a damaged hole where the lug studs should go. But even a single tiny washer will cause lug nuts to loosen up after you torqued them.
To sum up, wheel spacers are important parts that should not be replaced by washers. If you want to customize your wheels for better fitment and performance, stick to professionally made wheel spacers that provide optimal safety and reliability.
How to Measure Wheel Spacer Size with a Yardstick Method?
The most common and popular method of measuring the spacer size requires washers. However, that is not the only way to get the numbers you need. There is an alternative technique that allows you to measure what spacer size you need to look for, and it is called the yardstick metod.
Although this method may require more effort, you won't have to take off the wheel. A yardstick is a must-have for completing it successfully.
To make sure your suspension can handle the load of any permanent heavy items you may have in your trunk, such as large speakers, try substituting them with ballast to account for their weight. Additionally, set this weight at its maximum capacity to ensure that neither it nor your car will be overwhelmed.
- Position the ruler at the farthest edge of the fender where it meets with your wheel, ensuring that it is straight.
- To accurately gauge the distance from the outer lip of a wheel to its straight edge, simply use a tape measure.
- The measurement you just obtained is precisely how much space is required to ensure your wheel lines up with the fender.
That is far from ideal, however now you comprehend that your spacer size ought to be lower than the number previously determined. Leave enough space between the wheel and fender so it won't touch each other even with pressure or if there's a drop in tyre pressure for any reason.
This approach provides a beneficial simulation of extra weight, yet does not indicate if the new offset will provide enough clearance for the fender as the wheel moves inside its housing.
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