4×4 wheel spacers have gained a lot of hype in the last few years. However, there are two sides to its recent rise in popularity.
One side argues that 4×4 wheel spacers are bad for your vehicle, while the other argues that they are good for your vehicle and provide many benefits.
We take a look at what 4×4 wheel spacers are and are they actually good or bad for your vehicle.
What are 4×4 wheel spacers?
A 4×4 wheel spacer is a small car component that can be optionally installed on cars with a four-wheel drivetrain. It is located between the wheel and the vehicle hub and is generally made of hard plastic or metal.
A 4×4 wheel spacer has the purpose of pushing the wheel further out from the vehicle, which is useful for a few reasons.
Firstly, it can make a car look more cosmetically pleasing, but can also aid in providing space for a vehicle’s suspension, brake pads, or even hubs. 4×4 wheel spacers are also used by many off-roaders to increase traction.
There are two kinds of 4×4 wheel spacers. ‘Lug-centric spacers’ are used to secure a wheel to its mounting plate. Whereas ‘hub-centric spacers’ means that the wheel and axle already line up.
So, 4×4 wheel spacers are actually pretty simple, and their function is relatively clear and useful. But are these components really worth your money, or should you avoid them at all costs?
Advantages of 4×4 wheel spacers
- Cosmetics. For many car enthusiasts, the appearance of a vehicle is one of its most important features. Who doesn’t want their car to be stared at in awe down the road? 4×4 wheel spacers can give your vehicle a serious cosmetic boost, as spacing the wheels out will make your car look wider and more aggressive.
The aggressive look has become extremely popular in recent years, and whilst the look of your vehicle is down to personal preference, 4×4 wheel spacers are generally regarded to seriously improve the look of a vehicle.
- Greater handling. Another integral feature of any vehicle is its handling, but this is especially true for off road vehicles, who have to traverse mountains and make their way through muddy paths. 4×4 wheel spacers can have a great effect on handling in a few ways.
Firstly, as they make your car wider, overall stability will be improved, which will minimise body roll and the risk of a vehicle toppling to one side.
This will allow you to corner at much greater speeds and expose your vehicle to greater G-force through corners. A wider car generally allows for greater traction too, which will improve a vehicle’s ability to drive through uneven terrain.
- More space for modification. If you like to tinker with your vehicle, and make various modifications, you’re probably all too aware that manufacture’s don’t leave you much space to work with! SO, fitting better suspension or brakes can become an impossible task.
Such tasks do become possible with wheel spacers however, as they will give you more space to work with.
As a wheel is pushed out, the space that it occupied becomes free, allowing for bigger brakes and suspension systems to be installed. This can be a massive advantage for anyone who likes to make modifications to their vehicle.
Disadvantages of 4×4 wheel spacers
- Safety issues. The safety of a vehicle should always be your number one concern. If you damage the safety features of a car, you’re putting everyone on the road at risk, which just isn’t worth it. And, unfortunately, 4×4 wheel spacers can have some negative impacts on your vehicle’s safety.
If you don’t fit a wheel spacer correctly, it can create imbalance within the wheel hub. Over time, this could cause your wheel to fall off completely.
Not only is this going to cost you a great deal of money, but it could also jeopardise your own, or other’s safety. Poorly made 4×4 wheel spacers can also malfunction, which will cause the same result.
- Increased scrub radius. A scrub radius is the distance between a car’s central tire contact patch and the upper ball joint. A smaller scrub radius is generally regarded as better, as it will make your vehicle much more manoeuvrable.
By widening the distance between your tires, you will increase your scrub radius, ultimately making your vehicle less manoeuvrable and agile. So, 4×4 wheel spacers can have a terrible effect on your vehicle’s handling.
- Could damage other components. Sometimes, making a modification to a vehicle can serve to its detriment rather than its benefit, and this can be the case with 4×4 wheel spacers. Wheel spacers essentially disrupt the load-bearing characteristics of the wheel assembly, which can cause undue wear on certain vehicle parts.
For instance, installing 4×4 wheel spacers will put more weight on your wheel bearings, which will lead to quicker damage.
The same is true for the suspension assembly, which is particularly susceptible to damage once wheel spacers are installed. So, over a long period of time, 4×4 wheel spacers could actually cost you a whole lot of money.
Should I use 4×4 wheel spacers?
Ultimately, 4×4 wheel spacers certainly have their place, but they are not for everyone.
If you’re having problems with oversteer, and want a cheap fix, 4×4 wheel spacers could be perfect for you. Additionally, if you like to modify your vehicle regularly, wheel spacers could give you some much needed room to work with.
Wheel spacers are a cheap solution to some pretty expensive problems, and if you’re on a budget, they could be the miracle you were searching for.
However, if you’re going to use your car frequently, 4×4 wheel spacers probably aren’t the best choice. Not only are they going to cause further wear on your vehicle, which could cost you thousands down the line, but wheel spacers can also become downright dangerous.
Every time you go for a drive, you’ll be risking an accident, and for most people, the benefits do not outweigh the risks.
There are other ways of achieving better cosmetics and handling, which won’t damage yourself of your vehicle, and these options should be considered before you opt for 4×4 wheel spacers.