Wheel Spacers - Are they safe?

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Thread: Wheel Spacers - Are they safe?

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    Junior Member abrams57's Avatar
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    Default Wheel Spacers - Are they safe?

    I've been looking at wheel spacers for my Tundra, but how safe are they. If the wheels are hub-centric balanced, doesn't that mean that the load is on the hub and not the lugs? After installing wheel spacers, you've now transferred the load to the lugs. Is this okay to do or what?
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    Default Wheel spacers

    I recently used wheel spacers on my application because the wheels I wanted to use were only avail in 4 7/8 backspace, and I needed approx 3 5/8 backspace.
    I used spacers that were 1 1/4" thick (this is the minimum thickness , if you go thinner you'd have to shorten your existing studs). I bought mine from wheelspacers.com there are other companys also you can find on the web too. Just make sure they are made from 6061 T-6 billet alum. and are hub centric (the I.D. of the spacer is slightly bigger than the O.D. of your rotors) I believe it's 107mm ???

    As for are they strong enough, and load location etc...
    These are used everyday in serious drag, road, and offroad racing and seem to hold up fine. So my street/hwy/ mild offroad driving habits shouldn't be a problem

    Just make sure you get them from a reputable company that makes these daily . There are many factors of great importance, and this is one area where you dont want a problem.

    As for my application, no problems at all . They bring my wheels out into my fender flares perfectly. I think I paid $60.00ea? complete with new tapered lug nuts and new pressed in studs.

    Good luck

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    To add to grego's post, I too was unsure about spacers/adapters. I would always hear negatives about them but I didn't like the way the stocksetup was tucked in there so I took the leap.

    I am happy to say that after 4 years of running the spacers/adapters I have yet to have a problem with them. Like some people I do alot of hmmm... High Speed Driving I have also done some light off-roading and still not a problem (knock on wood)

    I'm not saying that they are extremely reliable cause I have only had them for 4 years but all I know is that after these past 4 years the units do not have a single blemish. Just my 2c.

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    Junior Member abrams57's Avatar
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    Do you have them on all 4 wheels? What thickness are they and if you don't mind, where did you get them? Anyone have pics of the new stance?
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    Yes, I have them on all 4 wheels. I believe that they are 1 1/2". Off the top of my head I can't remember who i ordered them through but what I do remember is that it was from a company in one of the off-road magazines. I'll look for the info and post it later..

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    Having dealt with the hassles of spacers, I would not use them. While there are a few people that are able to use them with success, the chances of having problems are great. I would strongly suggest getting wheels that have the correct offset from the beginning than trying to make something work.

    If you have to use something to make your wheels work, use an adapter instead of a spacer. They are much safer and a lot less hassle.

    If the wheels are hub-centric balanced, doesn't that mean that the load is on the hub and not the lugs? After installing wheel spacers, you've now transferred the load to the lugs. Is this okay to do or what?
    Your wheels are balanced hub-centric because that should be the dead center of the wheel. OE wheels are centered by the hub, but because aftermarket wheels are made for a variety of vehicles, the center hole of the wheel is usually larger than your hub. This requires your lugs to center the wheel which even with the correct lugs to match the taper of your wheel, it may not center, thus causing a vibration. Now, when you add spacers, you are increasing the likely hood of a balance problem because they make it more difficult for the wheel to center itself. They also put more stress on the lugs. Longer studs and ET lug nuts help keep it secure, but try holding a book in close to your body then hold it straight out. The further you move the weight away, the heaver it will get.

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    I have been asking myself this same question for 6 months now. I would like to keep stock wheels but push them out as well. I actually bought some 1 1/4 adapters from H&R Spring and had them on the truck for about 1 month. Everything seemed to be fine, I just chickened out and took them off. The only thing you will notice with adapters is more "road feel" and more "scrub". When you use adapters you will increase the scrub radius so when you turn you will hear/feel the tires more. I am trying to find somebody I trust to tell me that adapters are safe because I would like to go back to them. From what I have found out so far, you are not actually putting more stress on the lugs, just the ball joints and wheel bearings. You are moving the load on the bearings out an inch which could cause premature failure. But offset wheels do the same thing. All the stress on the lugs come from sheer force, and you are not changing that with adapters. Also, if you are going to use stock rims (or rims that are hub centric) then make sure you get adapters that are hub centric to the hub AS WELL as the wheel. The adapters from H&R Spring are only hub centric to the hub, not the wheel. One more thing, make sure you specify that you want to use ADAPTERS not spacers. Spacers are NOT safe. I think that when you say spacers (and mean adapters) people will say that they are not safe. Or I could be completely wrong about all of this. I would really like to know what DJ thinks about the use of ADAPTERS.

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    Just to clarify my beliefs, an "adapter" is if you have a 6-lug vehicle and want to put a 5-lug wheel on it. A "spacer" is if you have a 6-lug vehicle and 6-lug wheel, but just want to move it out. Am I right or wrong on this?
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    DJ
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    Originally posted by jaimr

    ...

    I would really like to know what DJ thinks about the use of ADAPTERS.
    You will never find wheel adapters or spacers on any vehicle I own.

    The design of vehicle suspensions, and the matching of wheels to those suspensions, should be left to experts. The hairs go up on the back of my neck when I read about putting spacers or adapters between the wheels and the hubs JUST TO CHANGE THE APPEARANCE OF THE VEHICLE.

    Here's a bit if insight into some of the effects of doing this:

    A vehicle is not a "rigid body". It is flexible. As it rolls down the road, it flexes, and this includes the suspension components. I mean that the individual components of the suspension actually change their shape, and they change their positions and orientations relative to each other.

    For example, the upper and lower control arms of the Tundra front suspensions pivot at their inboard ends. They pivot about bushings that are partly RUBBER.

    Think about what happens to the control arms when you apply the brakes: 1) The forces generated try to rotate the spindle so that the upper ball joint is pushed forward and the lower ball joint is pushed rearward; 2) They push the tire, wheel, and spindle toward the rear, which pushes both ball joints toward the rear; and, 3) They try to rotate the tire, wheel, and spindle so the front of the tire points more outboard (i. e. because of the positive scrub radius, it tries to make total toe more negative), by putting an inward force on the end of the tie rod, thus pulling outward on both ball joints. Now, just what is the "net force" on a ball joint, and thus what is the "net change" in the orientation of the control arm to which it is attached?

    If you space the wheel more outboard the vehicle, this DRASTICALLY increases the scrub radius, which is small to begin with. It thus DRASTICALLY increases the negative change in total toe that happens upon braking, especially hard braking. Do you want to GUESS what the effect is, just because you like how it LOOKS?

    As I stated above, the vehicle flexes as it rolls down the road. In fact, total toe changes as it rolls depending on, among other factors, the speed of the vehicle. In a rear wheel drive vehicle like the Tundra, with rack-and-pinion steering mounted behind the front axles, total toe tends to become more negative as the speed increases. The specification for total toe is set such that the the "dynamic" total toe at a nominal speed (commonly about 55 mph) is zero. This prevents tire wear and increases stability, because the tire is not "scrubbing sideways" as it rolls down the road.

    The increased scrub radius GREATLY affects the change in total toe due to speed. So, if you set the alignment of total toe dead on the factory spec, does that result in total toe being zero as you cruise down the road? Again, do you want to GUESS what the effect is, just because you like how it LOOKS?

    How often have you seen or heard of a traffic accident which appears to have no reasonable cause? The driver just turned a corner or put on the brakes and the vehicle swapped ends? Next time it happens, look to see if the vehicle has stock wheels and tires on it.

    I apologize for the rather strident tone of this response, but this subject is a raw nerve with me. I don't presume to tell people what they can and cannot do in modifying their own vehicles, but I point out that the accidents that result from modifications often have undeserving victims.

    I follow the beat of a different cliche. I don't own a vehicle to impress anyone. Mine look fine, and I keep them clean and in good repair. To me, they are just transportation. I am concerned with how they work and how safe they are, not with what passersby think of them.

    So, what do I drive? I have a 2000 Tundra Access Cab V8 SR5 4WD with the offroad package, on factory alloy wheels with Michelin LTX M/S in P265/70R16 tires. My wife has a 2001 Sequoia SR5 4WD, on factory alloy wheels with Michelin LTX M/S in P265/70R16 tires. I am VERY satisfied with how they drive.
    Remmy700P likes this.

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    Thanks DJ for the response, we really appreciate your comments. Once again you have taught us something. You have talked me right out of using adapters. But, the wheel search will continue!!!

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    DJ
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    Originally posted by jaimr
    Thanks DJ for the response, we really appreciate your comments. Once again you have taught us something. You have talked me right out of using adapters. But, the wheel search will continue!!!
    Please keep something in mind in your search for wheels.

    Suppose you were to use a spacer or adapter to space the factory wheels out from the hub. Compare that to not using a spacer or adapter, instead using a different wheel with a "deeper dish" that moves the tire out the same distance the spacer or adapter did. From the point of view of the effect on the suspension, THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO SITUATIONS.

    Perhaps I wasn't clear on that point.

    I don't like the idea of spacers or adapters because of the potential of weak mounting, runout, and imbalance of the whole assembly. My primary concern is the effect on the suspension of spacing the wheel out from the hub compared to where it was designed to be. The effect of moving the wheel out is the same, regardless of whether it was done with a spacer, and adapter, or a different wheel.

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    Thanks for clearing that up,

    If anyone out there is considering wheel adapters/spacers dont go to pep boys, Mr. Gasket, Summitt Racing or your local whatever parts store and get them.
    Do your homework, I'm assuming if you're reading this you have access to a computer. Get to a search engine type in "wheel spacers" or "wheel adapters" and you'll see a handfull of companys offering these . Make phone calls, ask questions , learn off their websites what they're selling etc...

    I run wheel spacers only because I wanted to use a certain wheel that was only offered with too much backspace for my application, so I had to bump 'em out 1 1/4" (no problems what so ever)

    If you have to run them, make sure of the following:

    made from 6061 T-6 billet alum
    hub centric (and if possible, wheel centric)
    at least 1 1/4" thick (to clear existing studs)
    holes are chamfered/tapered and come with matching nuts
    have new studs pressed in
    make sure you get them from a company that makes these daily and knows the in's and out's of this product.

    when installing:
    clean back of spacer, rotor and drum face with brake parts cleaner and toothbrush to insure clean flat surfaces.

    use a good torque wrench when installing. I was told to go to 100PSI . Did it in steps 35PSI, 70PSI,100PSI in a cross pattern.

    And whenever you rotate your tires or have them off, recheck your torque specs.

    Good luck.

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    My Ivan Stewart wheels said to torque them to 90 ft/lbs. Doesn't it depend on the type of wheel?
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    Thanks moto,
    I'll look into that.

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    Default What about alignment issues with adapter

    "To add to grego's post, I too was unsure about spacers/adapters. I would always hear negatives about them but I didn't like the way the stocksetup was tucked in there so I took the leap.

    I am happy to say that after 4 years of running the spacers/adapters I have yet to have a problem with them. Like some people I do alot of hmmm... High Speed Driving I have also done some light off-roading and still not a problem (knock on wood)

    I'm not saying that they are extremely reliable cause I have only had them for 4 years but all I know is that after these past 4 years the units do not have a single blemish. Just my 2c".


    Island_Tundra,

    Hey long time no hear (although I have seen your truck a few times rollin around the Island). I am in the same predicument as others may have, in that my wheels are designed as such that I cannot run wider tires without upper control-arm rub. I thought about wheel adapters (not spacers) and asked around for advise from the AK Tech and others in the automotive field.

    The feedback I get is that the vehicle would obviously have to be realigned and rebalanced due to the adapter's nature to cause a wheel to lose balance (in several months time). Ball joint and bushing stress would also be greatly increased.

    Can you give feedback on any possible alignment and balancing problems that you may have encountered? And what was done to correc it. I am planning on getting the 1.5" adapters (specs as you mentioned above) so I can run at least 285/50/20 tires.

    Oh and drop me a line if you can. I'll PM you my cell number.

    Thanks,
    Ron

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