Strictly speaking, wheel adapters are not the same as spacers. There are certainly some differences in their characteristics. For instance, wheel adapters usually come with two sets of bolt patterns which allow your vehicle to adapt various wheels. Most of them are bolt-on styles. On the other hand, wheel spacers are commonly vehicle-specific. This means they will only fit the vehicle hub with one specific bolt pattern. They can be slip-on styles and bolt-on styles.
For a stable bolt joint, wheel adapters are often made thicker in size like 1-inch, 1.5 inches, or even 3 inches. Normally, manufacturers will provide the matching wheel bolts to help fasten the adapters properly. The sizes of spacers are limitless. They can be as thin as 3mm, or as thick as 70mm. It all depends on your actual requirements. But you will need a set of extended wheel bolts to secure them in place.
Do I Need Wheel Spacers or Wheel Adapters?
Basically, if the bolt pattern of your wheel is the same as the vehicle hub, then you would need wheel spacers instead of wheel adapters. Although both these two items can push the wheels outwards, wheel spacers are more common in the market. This means many of them are in stock, you don’t need to spend extra money and time to custom a set. If the only problem you meet is the improper wheel offset, then a set of good wheel spacers is OK.
Once the bolt pattern of your wheel is different from the vehicle hub, you would exactly need wheel adapters. Since they are not limited to bolt patterns, adapters are more flexible. For example, you can turn a 5×130 bolt pattern into 5×112. This is done by installing a 5×130 to 5×112 adapter on the vehicle hub. Then the 5×112 wheel is attached to the adapter. This ensures a proper fitment.
What Wheel Adapters or Spacers Will Fit?
Choosing the right wheel adapters and spacers to fit your aftermarket rims can be easy if you know the bolt patterns of your vehicle and wheels. Just count the number of lug holes on your vehicle hub or wheel. You may get 4 lugs, 5 lugs, 6 lugs, or even 8 lugs. Anyway, write it down.
For a 5 lugs wheel, pick one lug hole to start from, and use a ruler to measure from the outer edge of that hole to the center of the adjacent hole (skip the one bolt hole). Assuming the bolt pattern circle diameter is 130mm, then the bolt pattern would be 5×130 or 5 on 130mm.
Bolt patterns in 4- 6- and 8-lug can be measured by going from the middle point of two holes located directly across from each other. If you get a 114.3mm circle diameter, then the bolt pattern of your wheel will be 6×114.3 or 6×4.5″.