To help drivers fit aftermarket wheels and tires properly, manufacturers make wheel spacers and wheel adapters to meet different requirements. If the purpose you want to achieve is just to move the wheels out a few distances, then wheel spacers are good to go. When you intend to fit a set of wheels that are in different bolt patterns, then you would need wheel adapters. Both of them are automotive aftermarket parts that move the wheels and tires further out from the suspension.
More clearance is a great solution to rubbing issues. Because now your tires are further away, there is less chance they will hit the fenders when operating a U-turn. Another advantage many people opt to run a wheel spacer or adapter is to accommodate for larger brake calipers. In addition, bringing the wheels and tires to flush with the fender or a little past can greatly improve the appearance of a vehicle. Are wheel spacers or wheel adapters better? This really depends on your requirement.
Differences Between Wheel Spacers and Wheel Adapters
Although wheel spacers and wheel adapters are similar, there are still some differences in their characteristics. For example, wheel spacers are simply designed to create space between the wheel and the mounting pad. They will be specific to a wheel bolt pattern. Typically, these spacers are made thinner in thickness, like 8mm, 10mm, and 12mm spacers. They will need a set of extended wheel bolts to secure the wheels properly.
On the other hand, the main difference between a spacer and an adapter is that the bolt pattern made for mounting the wheel is different from the vehicle hub, which means an adapter comes with two sets of bolt patterns. Because of this, wheel adapters are often made thicker in size and most of them are bolt-on styles. Actually, it is such a design that effectively allows the vehicle to fit a wheel with a different bolt pattern.
When to Run Wheel Spacers or Wheel Adapters?
Basically, there are various wheel spacers available in the market. This means many of them are in stock, you don’t need to custom a set which will save some money for you. If the only problem you meet is the improper wheel clearance, then a set of good wheel spacers will do. Since they are not limited to thickness, wheel spacers are more flexible.
Wheel adapters provide all the functions of spacers. But they are more functional. With wheel adapters, you can put various wheels on the vehicle hubs regardless of bolt patterns. For example, your vehicle is originally equipped with 5×120 wheels and you have eyes on new aftermarket wheels whose bolt pattern is 5×112. You find it hard to install a 5×112 wheel on a 5×120 hub directly. In this case, you definitely need 5×120 to 5×112 wheel adapters to achieve a perfect fitment.