3 Reasons Why You Should Not Fit Wheel Spacers To Your Car

Installing wheels spacers is common within the tuning scene. They are a cheap and easy way to improve wheel fitment and increase the track width of your car. However, they are also a fast and easy way to ruin the geometry of your car and can badly affect your handling.

The Negatives

The main issue with a wheel spacer is that it moves the wheel to a wider position whilst the rest of the suspension arms remain in the same place. In particular, the king pin inclination axis remains in the same place. Therefore, fitting a wheel spacer moves the wheel outboard and alters the scrub radius of the car. It is important to know whether your car currently has negative or positive scrub radius and ideally how much it has. Fitting a wheel spacer will increase the positive scrub radius at the front wheels which has some unfavourable consequences.

If your car already has a bit of positive scrub radius then the wheel spacer will increase it. An increase in positive scrub radius increases the forces on the steering rack under braking conditions. Any bumps in the road will also be amplified through the steering wheel, making the steering jerky and more unpredictable. Twitching wheels when braking can cause the tyre to lose grip and ultimately can cause the wheels to lock up and slide. An increase in positive scrub radius also causes the wheel to gain positive camber when the wheels are being turned, reducing grip in corners on the front wheels and producing understeer.

If your car has the more favourable set up of negative scrub radius then installing a wheel spacer can cause bigger issues. The outward movement of the wheel can make a negative scrub radius become zero. This is the worst position for it to be in. A zero scrub radius can cause squirm. This is where a scrubbing action occurs on both front tyres in opposite directions which can create unpredictable handling in corners and can lead to understeer too.

Secondly, installing wheel spacers on a car increases the leverage on the wheel bearing. The larger the spacer, the larger the leverage becomes. This reduces the life of the wheel bearing as they are not made to take leverage forces and can therefore wear faster, increasing rolling resistance and power loss of the car.

Finally, the wheel spacer moves the wheel further away from the damper mounting point. This means that the wheel will have a larger effect upon the damper and will act upon it with more leverage. This effectively makes the spring and damper softer and less effective on the wheel. This means that the car can roll more on corner entry and exit and feel generally softer out on track or on the road.

The Positives

However, there are some positive aspects to fitting wheel spacers to your car that can prove beneficial. Moving the wheels outboard increases the track width of the car. The increase in track width also lowers the roll centre of the car and therefore increases the amount of cornering force that the car is able to carry through its tyres. Due to being able to manage an increase in cornering G force, it means that it is possible to corner at higher speeds.

Installing the spacer on the rear wheels means that the negative aspects take less effect because the scrub radius effects are not present at the rear wheels. Therefore if your car is suffering from oversteer then installing wheel spacers might be a quick and cheap way of reducing that.

76 thoughts on “3 Reasons Why You Should Not Fit Wheel Spacers To Your Car”

  1. Interesting read and backs up what I have said about wheel bearing pressure. Two things, one, will altering the offset of wheels do this same thing?
    And two, how would you suggest effectively increasing track width without compromising the handling?
    Thanks and look forward to your reply

    1. Hi Stig, thanks for the comment. Yes increasing your wheel offset without increasing the tyre width will act the same as a spacer. The best way we can suggest to increase track width is by installing adjustable length arms to move the wheel and hub assembly outboard, increasing track width. However, if you must be willing to check your geometry settings after doing this as further adjustments and modifications may be required when this is done. Thanks

  2. Hi. I have a Ford Focus year 2015, sligthly oversteering. Installing only on the rear wheels the spacers, 5mm or 10mm, can I reduce oversteer? Thanks.

    1. Hi Cesare,

      Thanks for your comment. Installing a wheel spacer could help with the oversteer as it will increase your rear track width helping with LLT. However, you would be better observing your tyre behaviour and trying to solve the oversteer by optimising rear camber, toe or damper settings.

      Thanks

      Suspension Secrets

  3. Hi. Thanks for reply. I see that my car has a rear track large 1559mm, front track 1544mm. Can be this one of the reasons for its oversteering behaviour? If I install spacers only on the front, in order to equalize the rear and the front track, can be a valid solution?
    Excuse me for my English.

    Regards.

    1. Hi Cesare,

      Installing spacers on the front will provide more track width and therefore likely reduce understeer and increases the tendency to oversteer. However, it is worth noting that installing spacers will affect multiple other aspects of your geometry so you should try to solve the problem using roll bars, dampers and geometry before installing spacers.

      Thanks

      Suspension Secrets

  4. Hallo,
    nice article there. One question: would a positive scrub radius of 7-8 mm on the REAR axle be noticeable or too much? Car in question is a BMW 6 series running 275/30/20 wheels with an original ET of 44 whereas the upgraded wheels would have an ET of 37. I guess for the rear axle this variance is not so problematic correct?
    Look forward to your advice. Thanks and Regards

    1. Hi Christian,

      Yes the effects upon the rear axle are not as bad as the front axle. The main negative for installing on the rear axle is the increased loading on the wheel bearing. However, you will benefit from increased rear track width.

      Thanks

      Suspension Secrets

    1. Hi Mark,

      Wheel spacers will always affect geometry and alter handling and response slightly. However, the smaller the offset the less the effect so 15mm spacers wouldn’t cause too much of an issue.

      Also you wouldn’t feel the effects of a spacer as much with general road driving as you would out on circuit.

      Thanks

      Suspension Secrets

  5. I’ve mounted 10 mm Eibach spacers in the front of my BMW 3 series F31 (from 8×19 ET36 to ET26). I’ve noticed a fraction less understeer, maybe placebo effect. :). Could these cause some long term damage on my suspension, tires,…? Thanks.

    1. Hi Jan, thanks for the comment. The reduced understeer will be a result of the now wider track width across the front wheel which will reduce understeer slightly. The installation of the spacers will have altered your scrub radius which will alter how your wheel pivots. It will likely cause slightly more scrub to your tyres and make them wear faster when turning the wheel. However, it will take a while for a noticeable difference to occur.

      Thanks
      Suspension Secrets

    1. Hi, i had stock 205/65r16 with 6jj 50offset alloys & tires, Now i have uograded to 215/65r16 with 6.5j 40offset alloy & tyres, the scrub radius of positive 8mm has increased, its a rear wheel driven toyota body on frame MUV will it affect the handling & what about suspension life, is it going to take a toil.

      1. Hi Jeevan,

        The increase of 8mm will slightly affect handling in that the feedback through the steering when applying brakes will increase. Furthermore, any bumps in the road pushing back on the tyre will be amplified through the steering wheel. The increase will slightly increase the load upon the wheel bearing too but this should be quite negligible.

        Thanks

        Suspension Secrets

  6. Hi
    I was thinking of fitting 15mm spacers front and rear on my RS250 Renault Megane. Being FWD would it be a problem..

    1. Hi Carey, thanks for the comment. Fitting the 15mm spacers will affect your scrub radius and will therefore provide more feedback through the steering wheel when braking and hitting bumps out on track and the road. The extra load on your bearings will be minimal though. If you are going to go for wheel spacers then make sure to get hub centric spacers as this will remove any unwanted wheel wobble.

      Thanks

      Suspension Secrets

      1. Hi, wanted to know what would be scrub radius of stock oem vehicle without alteration.
        For example toyota kijang or innova MUV scrub radius of this stock vehicle would be ?

        Thank you

  7. Hello there thanks for the info. I have a Ford mustang with twenty inch rims bit I don’t have the muscle look that I thought it would give. Was planning on putting a maybe a three quarters of an inch spacer on the rear. Will that affect anything

    1. Hi, Thanks for the comment. If your car is used mainly for road use then you wont feel much difference and the extra strain on the wheel bearing should be minimal with that size of spacer. If you use the car for track use then you might feel some difference with regards to steering and feel at the front end.

  8. Hi there

    I have a s line Audi A4 Avant with 245/40/18 the rear sits further in than the front wheels and look a bit lost in the arches. I wanted to bring the rears out about 20mm and leave the front as is.
    Would this create much issues? And should I consider the front as well or stick with just the rear?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Paul, thanks for your comment. Spacing the rear wheel as less negative impact on geometry than on the front wheels so that would be the best case. You might experience a slight increase in load on your wheel bearing but you will benefit from a wider rear track width having more rear grip in corners.
      Thanks

  9. Hi there,

    I’m driving A200 sedan. i’m using 19″ ET49 with 8.0J. I added 10mm spacer for the fwd and 15mm for the rear. Will there be any problem?

    1. HI Ostar, the only issues caused will be the same mentioned in this article. See if you notice the differences when driving but for road use the effects are less noticeable.

      1. Hi, thank you for your reply. So far I don’t see any abnormalities. You mentioned the only issues caused will be the same mentioned in this article. So I will be expecting premature wear of the wheel bearings and absorber? I’m driving just for normal road usage. Thanks!

    2. Hi, I have a 2020 MK7.5 VW Golf GTI, I have been advised that a “flush kit” would be the best for the cars stance, 13mm on the front and 16mm spacer on the rear.
      I only use the car on the road, is this size going to have any real detrimental effect in the car, I only have the car for 3 years.

  10. Would front wheel spacers cause the steering wheel to shake. Just put on rims and tires from another vehicle and 1/2 inch spacers for clearance. I am having vibration at about 65 mph. Not sure if it’s the spacers or wheel balance. The car is a Chrysler 300 rear wheel drive. And wheels are off a Dodge Magnum AWD.

    1. HI Gary, the wheel shake is more than likely the wheel and tyre being out of balance. Check your wheel bearing condition and also check that the wheel spacers and wheel bolts are all torqued up properly too.

  11. Start with Congrats for the information. I have 2009 SLK gave me insight and understanding geometary of staggard wheel setup.
    Front 225/45 R17. Wheel 7.5J x17 ET36
    Rear 245/40 R17 Wheel 8.5J x17 ET30
    The front wheels sit well in while the rear wheel position just on the edge of the rear wing arch.
    Since i want to leave the geomatrical set up, i was planning to increase front tyre size to 235/45 or 245/45. on the same front wheels
    What i would like to know if wider tyre size is going to create body suspension fouling. Since the wheel size is same ET will remain same.
    Am i correct in thinking that without altering front wheel ET i will only be putting another 1 inch or2inch of extra rubber on the road and front wheel will still appear sitting -in. I use my car mainly for love and pleasure. My car SLK is Face Lift 1. model year 2008/09. To date
    it has only covered nearly 33,500 miles
    Would appreciate your comments and advice.

    1. Hi Dave, thanks for your comment. If you fit a wider tyre then you might have a situation where the bodywork is contacted. You would be best measuring this first. If you are suffering form understeer then you could install a different tyre on the front with more grip.

  12. Hi
    Great article,

    I am planning to install 30 mm wheel spacers on my rally car all round. Is this going to cause me a particularly detrimental affect cornering on the bumpy stuff at high speeds?

    1. Hi Stu, 30mm is quite a substantial sized spacer. You will get a softer wheel rate with those installed so you might want to consider a slightly stiffer spring to compensate. Also your front scrub radius will be increased which will affect handling slightly.

  13. All details on why we should not fit wheel spacers is given.Here we read some of ways to make the understanding easy.it is a simple yet much effective article for us. This is a great post; I will share as much as I can.

  14. So if I put lower wheels offset with wider tires, will it effect the suspensions and bearings same as the spacers?

    1. Hi Aziz, Thanks for the comment. Yes if you fit different offset wheels that change the track width of the car this will produce the same issues as the wheel spacers.

      Thanks

  15. Hi, I have a Land Rover Discovery 2 (V8) and I’m thinking about fitting terrafirma wheelarch extensions. If I do so I will fit 30mm spacers to increase the track and improve the look. However my car has all optional extras such as air suspension, hill descent control, and active cornering enhancement (ACE). How will the spacers affect that set-up? Would you advise against it?
    Thanks,
    Steve.

    1. Hi Steve, thanks for your comment. installing 30mm wheel spacers will certainly have effects upon your geometry. However, due to the low speed conditions of most off roading you will likely not notice the side effects. You will need to pay attention to the wheel bearing loadings more than anything with your application.

      Thanks

  16. Thank you. Actually I don’t go off road at all. I have some protection gear fitted to the Disco but its because I live and work in the Lake District and head up the fells in all weathers, sometimes deep snow. So my driving is a mix of everything from Hardnott Pass to the M6. How will my car be on the twists and turns of the A66 at 60mph? Will the ACE be badly affected?
    Really appreciate your input on this!

    1. Hi , I’ve got a Mercedes slk 55 AMG r171 , I’ve put 1inch wider amg wheels but would like to put 5mm hub centric spacers all round to create a better stances, will this be detrimental to the handling?

      1. Hi Adrian, thanks for the message. The combination of 25.4mm wider wheels plus 5mm spacers will certainly generate the issues mentioned in the article particularly at the front wheels. However, if the car is used mainly on the road then the issues will be less pronounced.

        Thanks

    1. Hi Ash, you would have to weigh up the positives and negatives mentioned in the article and make the best decision for your case. 50mm is quite large though.

      Thanks

  17. Hi, I was thinking of putting 20mm spacers only on the rear of my wrx sti Subaru Impreza 2004 model, I be interested in your thoughts of this? IE and Pros and cons

    1. Hi Ian,

      The pros and cons would be the same as mentioned in the article. You will have to decide whether the positives outweigh the negatives for your case.

      Thanks

  18. Hi,
    I have a Hyundai Coupe Siii and I plan to fit a set of Calibre Motion 17” wheels.
    As the stud centres are slightly different I am thinking of fitting a set of custom made wheel adapters . 20mm thick.
    Is this likely to cause me any problems.
    Thanks.

  19. hi I have a standard bmw e90 m sport 61 plate. not lowered. I would like to put hub centric 10mm on the front and 12mm on the back to try and give car a more aggressive look. I only use car on road and not track. what would your advice be. leave alone or go for it.

    1. Hi Clint, for just road use and a spacer as small as 10-12mm you will likely not notice the downsides. Just make sure they are definitely good hubcentric spacers.

      Thanks

  20. Hello, thank you for the great understandable article. I am thinking of adding 15mm spacers to my 2015 Mini Cooper S, without lowering springs or any other suspension modifications, other than a larger (stiffer) rear sway bar, and a front strut brace. I understand that this offset will increase the scrub on the front and rear tires, although probably not that much as the offset is relatively small. My question is; will such a small offset provide any cornering and handling advantages that are noticeable? Or will I only get a better looking stance? This question my seem redundant (given your detailed article), but like most I suppose I am seeking some more specific reassurance. Thank You.

    1. Hi Gerald, thanks for the comment. With a 15mm spacer the cornering advantages would be present in terms of increased track and would likely be noticed. The bearing loading wont be as much of an issue though but the scrub radius will be affected which might be felt through the steering wheel when out on circuit.

      Thanks

  21. Hi, this is a great article. Thanks.
    I have an Audi Q5 3.0. I only drive quickly on motorways etc, and usually prefer to focus on ride comfort for my young family. My car has factory 20” 8.5J alloys which I believe have a 33 offset. I would like the car to look better without worrying about bearing load or ill-effecting the geometry. 20mm and 15mm spacers would achieve the look I’d like. How would you feel about this?
    Secondly, IDEALLY, I would put on the identical Q7 21” wheel for ultimate cosmetic appeal. That is a 21” 10.5J with 44mm offset. By my calculations that wheel would add 1cm track BUT would encroach into the wheel well 3.2 more than stock. Do my calculations seem correct? How would that bigger wheel effect bearing load and geometry?
    Many thanks,
    Mike

    1. Hi Mike, thanks for the comment. For your application and mainly road use it is unlikely that you will suffer from any of the negative affects mentioned in the article. The only thing that might affect you is the slight increase in wheel bearing loading. However, this would take a long time to have any adverse effects due to the minimal offset changes you are making.

      Thanks

  22. Hi, I have a new 2020 Landrover 110 Defender. I am not sure what the stock scrub radius is, however I am assuming it is near zero with the stock oem rim and tire set up. It has oem 8.5″ x 20″ rims which have a 41.5mm offset outfitted with oem 255/60/20 tires.

    I am looking at replacing the rims and tires with a rim that is also 8.5″ x 20″, however it has a 25mm offset and outfitting the new rim with 275/55/20 tires. I used the tire-calculator at Wheel-Size.com to compare the oem set up, (which assumed the oem set up had a zero scrub radius) to the new rims and tires and it calculated the new scrub radius to be positive 21/32″ scrub radius which is approximately 5/8″ or 16.67mm. Would this 16.67mm positive scrub radius be considered a mild change, medium change or large change from oem. Like to get your thoughts on this might affect the driving and vehicle. Note: Rim and tire clearance to fenders, wheel wells and suspension appear to not be an issue. Look forward to your comments. John

    1. Hi John, Thanks for the comment. An increase in scrub radius will present the issues outlined in the article. However, on a Landrover, the effects are less present due to the style of use of the car. The scenario where scrub radius becomes an issue with off road cars is in situations where the wheels are encountering large undulations such as rocks or mud banks and the force on the tyre is trying to turn the wheels. The scrub radius will allow the input to have more effect on the steering wheel which could lead to instability. However, for mainly road use the effects will be minimal.

      Thanks

  23. I have a 2018 civic type r with the clever dual axis front suspension to reduce torque steer. I was thinking of adding 20mm spacers front and rear (purely for aesthetic reasons but also I guess to improve ride comfort) but suspect this will induce increased torque steer. What do you think? Thanks.

    1. Hi Niall, thanks for the comment. Yes you might induce some extra torque steer with the 20mm spacers on the front. The 20mm spacer will also still affect your scrub radius causing it to suffer form the same issues outlined in the article.

      Thanks

  24. Hello, lowered 35mm golf gti mk7 only springs stock dampers. OEM 19 inch rims sit way in the bodywork so gone for 10mm front, 15mm rear hub-centric spacers. Drives pretty much the same but now looks awesome.

    P.S: road use only, if would ever see track spaces would come off for this. Thanks for the great post giving peace of mind.

  25. Hello, my Ford Focus mk4 have 178.5mm distance in the front and 177.0mm at the rear
    If i install spacers 15mm front and 20mm back, i get 193.5mm front, 197.0 back.
    Should i suffer from understeer, or should i get 20mm all around.
    Is daily driving car.

    Thank you

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for the comment. The increase in rear track will slightly encourage understeer. However, there are multiple other factors that effect the understeer/oversteer dynamics that must also be taken into account and also depends on the current behaviour of the car (biased towards under/oversteer) to determine what the change in track widths will do to your car in particular.

      Thanks
      Suspension Secrets

  26. Hi,
    Looking to put 10mm center wheel spacers and 15mm on rear of 2012 Audi Q5.

    Any potential issues with this?

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for the comment. The only issues present would be those outlined in the article. Being 10mm the effects will be less due to being at the smaller end of the spacer scale.

      Thanks
      Suspension Secrets

  27. Hi there.
    From a safety perspective what should my considerations be when fitting 30mm spacers into my 2020 LandRover Defender?
    Would you advise against it? Or is it more an issue of wear and tear?
    Thanks!

    1. HI Chris, thanks for the comment. 30mm is quite a large spacer so would affect wheel bearing loading. Also it might cause the tyre to catch on the front arch liners when turning the wheels due to the increased scrub radius.

  28. Hi there,
    I have a mk7.5 Golf GTI still in warranty, with the standard suspension and 18” wheels. This is purely a road car I don’t intend on ever putting in on a track.
    I have been told that the best set of spacers to get a flush look with the wheel archs look is to have 13mm on 16mm on the rear. (I am happy to be corrected on this however)
    So I have been looking at getting a hub centric spacers; now I have come across your comments and it’s made me have second thoughts, are they really going to ruin the cars handling and potentially have issues with any warranty problems ( I will only be having the car for 3 years.)
    Thanks very much for your time.

  29. Will a 22mm spacer on the rear only, on a car used for road use only, have much of a detrimental affect on the rear wheel bearings ? The car has been 4 wheel aligned to factory set up, with the spacers fitted.

  30. Hello. I have a honda with double wishbone suspension. Ithe vehicle comes with 205/70r15 wheels with a 50mm offset. I just tried out putting 17 inch wheels with 245/45r17 and a 30mm offset. The torque steer and brake pull are very strong with the 17’s. I have adjustable upper control arms with camber set to 0 on both sides. Would making the camber more negative or toeing it in slightly help with this torque steer and brake pull from the offset difference?

    1. Hi Mike, thanks for the comment. Yes toeing in the front will certainly help with the torque steer. Also adding some negative camber would be advisable as 0 degrees will not handle well at all.

      Thanks

      1. I appreciate the reply. This write up helped me understand this quite a bit. I believe I will go with a taller tire as well.

  31. Hi there,
    I have a mk7.5 Golf GTI still in warranty, with the standard suspension and 18” wheels. This is purely a road car I don’t intend on ever putting in on a track.
    I have been told that the best set of spacers to get a flush look with the wheel archs look is to have 13mm on 16mm on the rear. (I am happy to be corrected on this however)
    So I have been looking at getting a hub centric spacers; now I have come across your comments and it’s made me have second thoughts, are they really going to ruin the cars handling and potentially have issues with any warranty problems ( I will only be having the car for 3 years.)
    Thanks very much for your time.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: