Skip to Content

Are Wheel Spacers Safe? The Truth About Wide Trucks

Some drivers will do almost anything to obtain a specific look for their vehicle. However, while some modifications may provide excellent results, they can sacrifice safety. One improvement that some drivers make involves using wheel spacers. These devices are controversial, and many question their safety. So what’s the truth? Are wheel spacers safe, and should you use them with your truck?

Today, we’re digging into the truth behind these pieces of equipment. We’ll see if you should trust them with your vehicle. Let’s get started!

Car flips after being hit by flying tire | ABC News
Its thought that a failed wheel spacer may have caused this accident.

What Are Wheel Spacers?

Wheel spacers are aftermarket parts that create space between the wheel hub assembly and the wheel. They’re typically metal or aluminum and come in various thicknesses.

These pieces of equipment install directly to the wheel hub before mounting the wheel onto the spacer. It pushes the wheel outward and creates a wider stance for the vehicle. Many times they are required if the user wants to use a specific size wheel that the car was not originally designed for.

Pro Tip: If you’re itching to do a DIY, grab your tools and discover What Mods Should I Do to My Truck First?

Wheel spacers
Wheel spacers are used to create space between the wheel hub assembly and the wheel. They typically have their own lugs that allow you to mount the wheel, too and you bolt them down with the factory lugs. They need to be extremely strong because they support the entire weight and torque in the metal between the original lugs.

What Is the Purpose of Wheel Spacers?

There are two primary reasons for using wheel spacers. The first is that they are used on cars to fit different-sized wheels that the car was not originally designed for. Wider wheels mean wider tires, but they need to be pushed out to get the clearance needed from the body and mechanics of the vehicle.

The second reason people use wheel spacers is to widen the track of the vehicle. This is typically to improve the appearance of the vehicle. Wheel spacers push the wheels outward, which makes a more aggressive or sporty look for a vehicle. Drivers may use them if they’re looking for a more rugged or muscular-looking vehicle.

Additionally, a wider stance increases the vehicle’s stability, especially on steep or hilly terrain. This can not only improve traction but reduce body roll too. This may be a modification worth considering if you want improved handling and performance.

Are All Wide Wheels Using Spacers?

No, not all wide vehicle stances use wheel spacers. Wheel rims have an “offset” that defines how they sit on the vehicle hub. Some rims have a wider offset that pushes them out. Other vehicles have a naturally wider stance as well. Our Ram 5500 is naturally a wider truck, and with our super single tires, it sits very wide without spacers.

Wide Wheel Spacing On Truck Camper
We have a very wide truck but there are no wheel spacers here. This is a 5500 with a naturally wider stance designed for duallys but we are running super single tires.

Are Wheel Spacers Safe?

Wheel spacers, like many modifications, are relatively safe when you they are made properly and you install them correctly. However, a Los Angeles ABC 7 video shows why they can be dangerous. If you don’t take the proper precautions, a tire could come loose and cause a hazardous situation.

Even if you install them properly, there’s always a higher risk of failure compared to a direct rim mount. If you choose this modification, it’s not the time to save a few bucks by selecting inferior parts. Additionally, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations during the installation process and loading limits.

Personally, I would never use wheel spacers on a truck or vehicle you intend to put heavy loads on. Towing, racing or off-road driving can put much higher stress on the vehicle hubs, to begin with. Using a wheel spacer puts additional torsion stress on the hubs by offsetting the loading point. This will increase the likelihood of failure of the spacer or the vehicle hub itself.

If you do choose to use them after installation, do regular inspections and maintenance. Look for signs of warping or cracking and check the torque of lug nuts. A situation can take a dangerous turn in the blink of an eye. You can never be too safe.

The legalities of wheel spacers vary by location. However, in the United States, no federal laws prohibit their use. On the other hand, local and state governments can restrict their use. 

Unfortunately, you will have to check your local laws and regulations. These types of rules can constantly change. You may have to contact the local Department of Motor Vehicles or law enforcement.

Wide Stance wheel spacers
Get a rugged or more muscular-look to your vehicle by installing wheel spacers.

Benefits of Using Wheel Spacers

With the potential risks, you may wonder why drivers would take the gamble. Well, there are some benefits to using wheel spacers. Let’s examine some reasons why you might want to consider them.

Appearance

One of the primary reasons drivers use wheel spacers is for the look they can create. Pushing the wheels further out can make a rather eye-catching look for a vehicle. The wider stance is a bit sportier and muscular. It can help a car stand out.

Some drivers will take extreme measures to create a custom vehicle. They like the way wider cars look. Wheel spacers are a relatively straightforward modification that can achieve the desired look and feel.

Increased Track Width

However, a wider track for a vehicle isn’t just about looks. Widening the footprint of a vehicle can also enhance stability. Drivers will experience this while cornering or performing high-speed maneuvers. Distributing the weight across the tires and frame of the vehicle helps minimize the chances of rolling.

In addition, drivers will enjoy increased traction. Having your wheels grip the road better is typically a good thing. This can be helpful in various situations like heavy cornering or driving on steep terrain.

Truck with wheel spacers on tires
Customizing your truck with wheel spacers can improve both the appearance and the performance of your vehicle.

Wheel Fitment

You can increase the types and sizes of wheels on your vehicle with wheel spacers. When considering whether wheel spacers are safe, remember that incorrectly-sized or offset wheels can create issues with truck brakes, suspension, and other critical components. You may experience poor handling, decreased stability, and an increased risk of accidents.

Fitting tires for your vehicle is a decision you cannot take lightly. As a result, it’s a good idea to consider specific requirements for your vehicle. Things like wheel size, bolt pattern, and load rating are all essential. No matter which wheels you choose, follow proper installation procedures and torque them correctly.

Customization

Customizing a vehicle can improve its aesthetics and performance. You don’t need a vehicle that looks ordinary. Whether you choose bigger or broader tires, wheel spacers can help you create a custom look for your vehicle.

Overall, you can have a better-looking and performing vehicle with wheel spacers. However, you must consider how all modifications and customizations can impact your vehicle. Some decisions may affect your ability to make future choices without sacrificing safety or performance.

Pro Tip: Before you hit the road in your dually truck, uncover Do Dually Trucks Need Special Tires?

Truck with wheel spacers
While there are benefits to using wheel spacers, they are not always a perfect modification.

Disadvantages of Using Wheel Spacers

While wheel spacers are safe, they’re not perfect. We suggest you pump the brakes on this modification before understanding the disadvantages. Let’s take a look and see the negative side of these devices.

Altered Center of Mass

When you widen the tires, you alter the vehicle’s center of mass. As a result, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can create instabilities. This can result in increased risks for rolling and other accidents. Controlling a vehicle, especially at higher speeds, may even be more challenging.

An altered center of mass can significantly impact suspension geometry too. This can lead to a less comfortable ride and increased wear and tear on tires or essential suspension components. If you want to avoid these, choose your wheel spacers wisely.

Increased Stress on Components

Wheel spacers for trucks can increase stress on the suspension, wheel bearings, and other parts. The increased lateral forces and torsion forces while cornering and performing maneuvers can cause damage to them over time. This can result in premature failures for essential components like control arms, ball joints, and bushings.

Wheel spacers cornering
Forces will be exaggerated on vehicle components with spacers.

Potential Clearance Issues

If you aren’t careful, using wheel spacers can cause clearance issues for your trucks. This typically occurs from tires rubbing against fenders, suspension components, and other parts. A wider track can create problems when turning or going over bumps in the road.

However, you must watch for clearance issues with other components like brake calipers, brake lines, and suspension arms. This can lead to damage and dangerous conditions, especially for your brakes.

This is one of the reasons why it’s a good idea to work with a professional. They’ll offer a unique and educated perspective. 

Mud And Dirt Issues

Take it from us, if you push the wheels out beyond the wheel fenders or mudflaps, you’re going to make a mess. Water, dirt, and mud will not be caught in the wheel well and will spray everywhere. We had to add extra wide fenders, and we still get mud and splashing up on the windshield and even the top of the truck sometimes.

Lower Fuel Economy

If you push your tires out beyond the body of the vehicle, you will significantly impact the airflow along the side of your vehicle. At higher speeds, this will have an impact on fuel economy. If you care about highway fuel economy, you will see a significant decrease with spacers.

At lower speeds this will not be an issue as wind resistance is exponential, so its only a problem at higher speeds.

While no federal restrictions exist on using wheel spacers for trucks or other vehicles, local and state governments can impose laws. You could be wasting your money if local officials create laws prohibiting them. Make sure you do plenty of research on the local laws to avoid any potential issues.

Additionally, you want to consider potential warranty implications. You don’t want to do any modifications to your vehicle that could risk voiding your warranty. Some warranty providers may consider wheel spacers an unauthorized alteration. Check your warranty documentation or consult the manufacturer or a local dealer before starting the project.

Pro Tip: Some mods should be skipped, like this one that leaves Truck Owners Divided Over Rolling Coal.

How to Properly Install Wheel Spacers on your Vehicle!

Are Wheel Spacers Worth It?

If you want to change the look or performance of your vehicle, wheel spacers are a great way to do it. However, they’re not for everyone or every situation. We’ve seen some cars with a wider stance that look incredible. On the other hand, taking it to the extreme can ruin the look and performance of the vehicle. So ensure you take your time deciding whether it’s for you.

Would you use wheel spacers? Why or why not? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

Become A Mortons On The Move Insider

Join 15,000+ other adventurers to receive educating, entertaining, and inspiring articles about RV Travel Destinations, RV Gear, and Off-Grid Living to jump-start your adventures today!

Also, join our Mortons on the Move Community discussion over on our Discord Server!

About Tom Morton

Tom, a Pacific Northwest native, is our technical genius. Born in Washington and raised in Alaska before settling in Michigan. He's the man who keeps our operation running, both figuratively and literally.

With a background in Electrical Engineering, Tom specializes in RV solar systems and lithium batteries. He made history as the first documented individual to use a Tesla battery module as an RV battery. Tom has personally assisted countless RVers with system installations and has educated thousands more through his videos and articles.

Cinematography is another of Tom's passions, showcased in his work on the Go North series. You can see his camera skills on display in The RVers TV show on Discovery Channel and PBS where he also stars as a co-host.

Tom's mechanical expertise extends beyond RVs to boats, planes, and all things mechanical. He's renowned for taking on maintenance and repair projects single-handedly and is often spotted underneath RVs, making him the technical backbone of our endeavors.

About Us

Sharing is caring!