Vehicle geometry can be complicated with all the measurements involved, and they often get confused. You do not need wheel spacers to widen the wheelbase. Instead, you can find a licensed engineer to perform a chassis extension with all the necessary adjustments to driving shafts, wirings and more. There are lots of ways to achieve what some people call a "wider wheelbase" with or without spacers. And here, we will look into different methods to alter wheelbase, stance and track width.
And here is the reason why you do not need spacers for increasing the wheel base at all. Spacers are meant to alter offset and backspacing. They push the wheels apart and away from the car's body. So, wheel spacers increase the track width, but the wheel base measurement remains the same.
Why Can't You Widen Wheel Base With Spacers?
Wheel base measurement is often confused with other notions like stance and track width. So before we dive deeper into this popular question, we should clear all the misconceptions and figure out how wheel spacers fit into all this.
Wheel base (or wheelbase) is a measurement that shows the distance from the center of a front wheel to the center of the rear wheel on the same side. The diagram below will help you picture this imaginary line easily. It is not the length of the entire car but only a part of it. This measurement impacts two major things in vehicle design: how much space you will have inside the car and how smooth the drive will be. You might have noticed that luxury cars tend to have longer wheel bases, and there is a good reason for that. When you put enough distance between the rear and front wheels of a vehicle, all bumps on the road are less noticeable to you.
In contrast to the wheel base, the track width is something you can alter using wheel spacers or by other means. Changing wheel offset or size can affect this particular measurement and make your vehicle look wider and reduce body roll. Installing wheel spacers is just one way to achieve this, but it is not the most simple one. Depending on how much you want to change the stock wheel offset, replacing rims could also be a valid option.
And the last thing people often call wheel base is the stance. By "wider stance" they usually refer to wider track width, but the meaning of stance is much more diverse than that. This is a customization buzzword that can refer to the height above the road, wheel fitment inside the fender arches and cambering out. Sometimes it is impossible to make a heavily stanced car without spacers because it depends on the wheel size and offset. But it is not always necessary, so you can stance your car without installing wheel spacers if the clearance allows it.
Can You Extend the Wheelbase of a Car without Wheel Spacers?
No, the wheelbase of a car can not be extended by adding wheel spacers. But you can do it in a different way. To increase the wheelbase of a vehicle you need to put the front and rear wheels somehow further apart. This can be done by a method that came from the RV community, the chassis extension. RV enthusiasts claim that chassis extension provides numerous benefits, including increased capacity, more space for cargo on the tray and reduced overhang. It also improves stability and handling, making it an ideal solution for truck owners.
This is not a simple task since the car frame is one of the integral parts that do not like to be messed with. And this kind of upgrade comes with many potential risks and requires thorough research. And be ready for higher insurance rates associated with it as well.
We do not recommend extending the wheelbase of your vehicle using this method, but it exists and people use it anyway. The chassis extension requires the chassis to be cut and then extended by welding pieces of metal to connect the pieces. You should remember that the chassis is a part of your vehicle's skeleton. It is the structural part that has to bear the load of the vehicle, passengers, cargo and the parts you add to the vehicle to upgrade it. So, its integrity is crucial for your safety.
Do not attempt to extend your wheelbase yourself. Only a professional engineer should perform this truck modification. There are shops throughout the US that qualify for this exact type of work. It would be best to contact them for a consultation first.
Is a wider wheelbase better?
A bigger wheelbase has its benefits, like a smoother ride, more interior space and better stability, but they sacrifice some maneuverability for that. Vehicle manufacturers adjust the length of the wheelbase across the models for various reasons, including off-road capabilities, handling, and aesthetics. Additionally, it affects manufacturing costs, interior space, weight distribution and overall weight of the vehicle.
You can not increase the wheelbase length indefinitely because the longer it is, the more you risk making your vehicle high-centered. This means that cars with longer distances between the front and rear wheels are more prone to get the underbody damaged on bumpy roads. To mitigate this effect, the clearance must be increased, but that ruins the purpose of an elongated wheelbase, its stability.
All in all, a wheelbase with greater length will provide more stability when running at speed and heavier loads, yet it may be slower to turn. Another disadvantage of longer cars is their ability to tackle turns with challenging angles. Their turning radius is heavily affected by the wheelbase length, and shorter cars have a big advantage over them in the same situation. They feel safer during turns, but they also feel sluggish and awkward sometimes for the same reason.
The disadvantages of vehicles with longer wheelbases are difficult to fix, but the main concern with short-wheelbase cars can be balanced out with a wider track. By switching to rims with a more negative offset, wider wheels or adding wheel spacers, short cars can improve their stability by widening the track.
How to Widen Stance Without Spacers?
You can widen your vehicle's stance without spacers by switching to rims with a more pronounced negative offset and larger aftermarket wheels. Aftermarket wheels can be customized to meet your vehicle's needs, providing a wide array of options when it comes to widths, offsets and bolt patterns. This allows you to tailor your car according to the desired performance goals while also improving the overall look and feel of your ride. Thanks to modern manufacturing processes, aftermarket wheels can be crafted with precision and oftentimes provide superior strength and durability compared to stock wheels. Whether for aesthetic or performance reasons, aftermarket wheels are a great way to customize and enhance your driving experience truly.
When it comes to widening your car's stance, the offset and backspacing are the biggest contributing factors. Moving the wheel mounting point closer to the inside of the wheel will cause it to protrude further outward on the other side, creating a wider track. To achieve the most desirable outcome, opt for a more negative offset or a less positive offset. However, beyond certain extremes of these measurements, this can decrease the fender clearance beyond risky limits.
Finding wheels that will fit your car and provide a wide range of offsets to reach the desired effect can be quite demanding. Although custom-made ones are an option, they may prove to be too costly in the long run.
As you broaden your car's stance, it is pivotal to ensure that the space between the tire sidewall and fender remains sufficient. If you decide to push the wheel further outwards, the tire will inevitably move closer toward the fender lip, leading to a potential issue of the clearance. In general, if your car's wheelbase is able to accommodate wider wheels then you should keep this in mind prior to purchasing and mounting them. Furthermore, ensuring that you have a sufficient amount of wheel offset can help make sure that your wheels don't rub against the fenders, or this could cause unnecessary damage.
Is a Wider Wheel Track Better?
Yes, a wider track is better for racing cars and vehicles with shorter wheelbases since it improves stability. It can also completely transform the looks of a long-wheelbase vehicle but can offer little more than that regarding performance and handling.
Installing wheel spacers or low-offset rims is a great way to improve the stability and handling of your car. It does this by widening the track width, which helps to reduce body roll and makes it easier for the vehicle to stay in control when cornering. However, it is important that you take into account a few parameters, including tire size, rim size, and offset, before doing so, as incorrect fitment can be detrimental to both performance and safety.
The wheel track width of a car has a direct effect on its lateral and diagonal weight transfer. A longer wheel track width increases the stability of the car when cornering, as it better distributes the weight of the vehicle to all four tires. This helps reduce body roll, allowing for better control when taking corners. Conversely, a narrower wheel track width will lead to an imbalanced weight transfer as the car moves through turns, thus resulting in poorer handling characteristics.
Changing the track width of the wheels on your car can have a major impact on its handling characteristics. For instance, having a shorter track width at the front and a wider track width at the rear will typically induce more understeer as it increases the amount of weight transferred to the front tires. On the flip side, having a wider track at the front and narrower ones near the back will give you an oversteer tendency in which the rear end of your vehicle can get out of control when cornering. It is important to find a balance between these two extremes to ensure maximum stability and performance when driving.
Disadvantages of a Wide Track
There are a lot of benefits to widening your car's stance with or without wheel spacers, but as always, there are some drawbacks to consider too.
Widening your car's track can have a considerable impact on steering effort and kickback. In increasing the front scrub radius, there is an unavoidable increase in steering effort, as well as an increased sensitivity to bumps and potholes, resulting in a more pronounced kickback for the driver. By considering this effect carefully when making changes to your vehicle's stance, you can ensure that you are getting the most out of your car's handling capabilities.
Faster Suspension Wear
A wider track can put additional stress on the suspension bearings, as the load is cantilevered beyond what the suspension can withstand. This can lead to excessive wear and tear on these components over time, resulting in damage such as misalignment and weak bearings. To avoid or reduce this issue, it is important to select a suspension system that has been designed for your vehicle's specific track width in order to ensure it can handle the extra load. Additionally, it is beneficial to check the suspension regularly for signs of wear and tear, particularly when making larger modifications such as widening your track.
Increased Turning Radius
The track width affects the turning radius of the vehicle as it requires more distance for the wheels to turn in order to complete a given corner or maneuver. This means that drivers will have to plan ahead and allow more room when negotiating tight corners or completing low-speed maneuvers, as traveling further than necessary can lead to dangerous situations. Additionally, increased friction between the wider tires and the road surface can also affect braking performance, so taking extra care when driving is important.
How to Measure Track Width?
To measure wheel track width, you'll need a measuring tape and, depending on your car's clearance, a low-profile trolley jack and some jack stands.
- Place the car on a level surface, raise it with the jack and place the jack stands for support.
- Turn the front wheel straight and use the tape to measure between axle treads.
- Measure end to end but subtract tread width from your measurement to get the exact wheel track.
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