As a European sports car owner, you may have heard of wheel spacers. What are they, and what benefits do they bring to your car's performance? Are they worth the investment? You'll learn all about wheel spacers in this guide.
What are Wheel Spacers?
Wheel spacers are round discs that are installed between the rotors and wheels. The purpose of installing wheel spacers is to widen the offset of the wheels, which widens the vehicle's track. This has handling benefits even when the tire size does not change.
A wheel spacer is installed in front of the rotor. Photo credit: Todd Nappen
A wheel spacer can be as thin as 3mm or as thick as 23mm. The range of sizes to choose from enables you to push your wheels out just as much as you need to.
How Wheel Spacers Help Improve Handling
By widening the wheel offset (and pushing the wheels further away from the chassis), the wheel spacers reduce body roll. This helps improve your tires' lateral grip. The tires are more evenly loaded, which leads to better handling of the car and faster acceleration coming out of a corner. All of these benefits come without changing the tire size.
The great thing about spacers is that they let you fit a wider tire on your existing wheels. This, of course, improves traction and handling even more.
The Difference Between Hub Centric Spacers and Lug Centric Spacers
There are two different types of wheel spacers: hub centric and lug centric.
The difference between both types of wheel spacers is that:
- Hub centric wheel spacers are centered by the wheel hub. The bore hole in spacer precisely fits the wheel centering flange on the hub.
- Lug centric wheel spacers are centered by the lug nuts. The bore hole in the spacer does not precisely fit the wheel centering flange. Instead, it is usually several mm larger in diameter. Conical lug nuts must be used to attach a lug centric wheel spacer, and they should always be tightened by hand, using a star pattern.
Generally, hub centric wheel spacers are the more preferred option. They can't be installed off center. It is possible to unintentionally install lug centric spacers off center, which results in vibration similar to a wheel being unbalanced. So why do companies even make lug centric spacers? Because some hubs have unique sizes and were made in low volumes. It's not commercially viable to make spacers for low production vehicles with unique hubs. But if a spacer manufacturer can make one lug centric spacer that works for several different vehicles, then that spacer can be viable.
Finding Quality Wheel Spacers for Your Car
The problems created by installing ill-fitting, low-quality wheel spacers on your car can outweigh the performance benefits they bring. That's why it's worth taking the time to find quality wheel spacers for your car.
As far as quality goes, you can't go wrong with brands like Turner Motorsport and ECS Tuning. Both brands make durable and lightweight model-specific wheel spacers of various sizes. At EuroSport Tuning, we're very particular about which brands and products we carry. We confidently stand behind wheel spacers made by Turner Motorsport and ECS Tuning. Look up your European sports car model in our catalog to see all the high-quality wheel spacers available for your car!