So, wheel spacers, what are they and what are they for?
Well basically they’re billet aluminium, machined down to fit in between your hub and your wheel, giving the car a wider track. They're a very popular aftermarket accessory and they are predominantly bought to improve a cars stance, that’s exactly why we’re doing it in the fitting video below.
However, there are potentially some handling benefits to fitting wheel spacers. Widening the track will lower the lower the vehicles roll centre which, on the front axle for example can help reduce under steer. Also, pushing the wheels outwards by fitting spacers essentially increases the length of the 'lever' acting on the suspension which should manifest itself as a slightly softer ride. There are also some potential pitfalls such as increased stress on your wheel bearings and if you go too wide you could end up with all kinds of weird and wonderful things going on with the handling but the spacers we’re fitting are not particularly big so it’s unlikely that you’ll notice much of a change in the handling on a road car anyway.
Another common reason for fitting spacers is wheel clearance. If you're fitting wider wheels with different offsets from standard or are fitting a big brake kit you may run into clearance issues between the wheel and the shock or wheel and caliper. A set of wheel spacers could be a simple solution to the problem.
The pilot sport wheel spacer kits that we sell here at MicksGarage are available in 16mm and 20mm widths. They come as a set of 2 hub-centric spacers and an axle set of longer wheel studs or wheel bolts - depending on the car you buy them for.
There’s a few different designs of wheel spacers. There’s the basic type like the one pictured below which to a degree are universal and will fit various pcd’s - or pitch circle diameter if you’re not one acronyms (that’s the dimension, diagonally from the centre of a stud across the centre of the hub).
Basically they’ll fit a bunch of different cars. They’re cheap and cheerful but the drawback with these is that they don’t always centre
on the hub perfectly which means they can become unbalanced and you can get massive vibrations when you’re driving down the street. It also puts all the load directly onto the wheel studs. Which isn’t ideal.
The type we’re fitting today are hub-centric wheel spacers which are designed specifically for the car you’re going to fit them to. So the holes for the wheel studs or bolts are in exactly the right place and the centre of the spacer is machined to exactly fit the centre of the the hub (hence the name hub-centric) what this does is ensure the spacer is perfectly centered which eliminates any potential vibrations. It also spreads the load across the whole hub centre, as well as the wheel studs - all together a much better and safer job!
Fitting the spacers is extremely simple, all you’re going to need is a jack, axle stand, wire brush, whatever wheel brace you use to remove your wheels and a torque wrench to torque them back up again. Check out our video:
With the wheel off and the car supported on axle stands take your wire brush and give the mounting surface of the hub/disc a good clean. If you’ve got raised chunks of rust or paint left on here and you mount the spacers directly onto the hub you can end up with a vibration - you can give the back of the wheel a quick clean too if you like.
Pop on your spacer and line up the bolts holes. Some kits come with a new, longer disc locating screw and some kits don't. They're not essential to fit by any means so don't worry if you don't have them, they just stop the spacers moving when you first put the wheel on which makes getting the wheel bolts in much easier.
Lift your wheel into position, make sure you use the new, longer wheel bolts and tighten them up by hand in a star pattern. Nip them up with your wheel brace before lowering the car carefully back to the ground. Check your owners manual to find the correct torque setting for the wheel bolts on your car and torque them up. All that's left to do now is check out out your awesome new stance! Before you take the car for a test drive it's worthwhile doing a quick bounce test (compress the suspension by pushing down on the wing/boot or wherever) to make sure that you've no obvious clearance issues and the wheels are not rubbing on the arches.
We're really happy with the end result on our A6, the spacers definitely give the car a much tougher look at the rear and it's such a quick and easy mod to do. Now we just need to do the fronts!
it is worthwhile mentioning that Pilot do state these wheel spacers are intended for racing and show use only. The reason for that is to avoid any legal ramifications. In some countries you’re not allowed to use wheel spacers on the road. Some U.S states ban them altogether and some countries require certification so you need to check out the laws of the land where you live but here in the UK and Ireland there’s no legislation about wheel spacers so you’re fine to use them.