Are Wheel Spacers Bad For Your Jeep?

Wheel spacers are a common modification you can make to any off-road vehicle, including Jeeps. There are some significant pros and cons associated with this modification, and it is crucial to fully understand wheel spacers and how they affect a vehicle before installing them. 

Wheel spacers can impair the driving of your Jeep if made with cheap components or not installed correctly. Wheels spacers can negatively affect the handling and put unnecessary stress and wear on the suspension and drive components. 

So why do people choose to install them? People choose to install them for several reasons, but the biggest reason is they want to improve the appearance and performance of their vehicles. 

Let’s explore wheel spacer modifications on Jeeps and how they affect how the vehicle drives and handles. 

Are Wheel Spacers Bad For Your Jeep?

Wheel spacers are not necessarily bad for your Jeep. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be legal. So, while not dangerous, you need to understand that they can impair your driving experience. 

For instance, installing poor quality wheel spacers can affect or damage the wheels or suspension components. This, in turn, can affect the handling and cause wear and tear on the wheel bearings, causing them to wear out more quickly. 

Adding wheel spacers to a Jeep applies excess stress to the vehicle’s drive system and increases the load on the suspension system. 

Unfortunately, this modification can result in more frequent services of the vehicle drive train and suspension system and cause issues such as brake failure and significantly increased fuel consumption. 

If you do not install wheel spacers correctly or install spacers of poor quality, the vehicle’s overall effect is usually negative, even though you achieve the desired effect. 

However, installing wheel spacers with minimal adverse effects on the Jeep is possible. 

These wheel spacers must be the most high-end version and must be professionally installed. 

High-quality wheel spacers will still require increased maintenance on the Jeep, but they will cause significantly less wear and potential damage to the vehicle than cheap versions. 

If you want to put wheel spacers on your Jeep, ensure that you install the correct wheel spacers for your Jeep and wheel combination, buy the best spacers you can afford, and have them professionally installed and maintained. 

This will mitigate the potential drawbacks of this modification. So let’s take a look at the different types of wheel spacers.

Types of Wheel Spacers

The two types of wheel spacers available are:

  • Slip-on: These spacers slip onto the wheel hub so that you can bolt them on. People prefer these over the bolt-on version because you can easily remove them.  
  • Bolt-on: The bolt-on version, also known as “hub-centric” spacers, mounts directly to your vehicle’s hub and requires a separate set of lug nuts. While more time-consuming to install, this version provides better weight distribution and more stability than the slip-on spacers. 

When deciding which ones to install on your Jeep, look for quality. I realize that most people are on a budget, but if you can’t afford to pay for quality wheel spacers, it’s best not to install them. 

How Do Wheel Spacers Affect The Handling Of A Jeep?

Wheel spacers affect the type of wheels you can install. This is because they add additional clearance between the wheel hub and the wheel itself. 

The additional space affects the type of wheels and ribs you can install. 

In some circumstances, they can also improve the off-roading performance of a Jeep, but how do they affect how the vehicle drives?

Wheel spacers can have a significant effect on how the vehicle handles. 

Widening the wheelbase of the vehicle with spacers can increase the stability of the Jeep, but it also significantly increases the steering weight of the vehicle, making it much more difficult to control in certain circumstances. 

Adding wheel spacers usually means adding larger, thicker wheels. Installing these wheels also makes driving on normal roads more difficult. 

Wheel spacers can have good off-roading benefits in some situations, but they usually decrease the overall performance and handling of the vehicle on normal roads and for normal vehicle operations. 

Increasing the vehicle’s height with wheel spacers can increase body roll and affect the Jeep’s agility and steering weight. This means that a Jeep with wheel spacers and larger tires will never handle as well as a Jeep with a stock wheel assembly. 

Pros And Cons of Wheel Spacers

Let’s take the time to explore the most important pros and cons of installing wheel spacers in a Jeep to help you decide if this modification is worth doing. 

Increase vehicle heightIncreases wear and tear on suspension components
Improve traction by allowing for larger tiresAffects handling ability
Provide better off-roading capabilitiesCan affect brake failure
Improve traction on loose sand, gravel, etcAffects fuel consumption
Make the vehicle look more sporty and aggressiveCan increase body rolls
Improves overall stabilityPuts more wear and tear on your Jeep
Can affect the overall performance including off-roading, and on regular roads

Should You Get Wheel Spacers for Your Jeep?

As long as you understand that the wheel spacers can affect the performance of your vehicle, it all comes down to a personal decision. There’s nothing wrong with wheel spacers and they can make your vehicle look more sport and help protect the wheels from damage, especially when spending time off-road.

Before buying wheel spacers, make sure to do your due diligence. Make sure you choose the right size for your Jeep. Also, choose high quality spacers made from steel or aluminum.

Choosing high quality wheel spacers will ensure they last longer and cause less wear and tear on your vehicle.

Alternative To Wheel Spacers?

Now that you understand the pros and cons of wheel spacers, you might be asking if there is a better alternative to this modification that achieves similar results without the drawbacks.

Suspension lift kits are a far better alternative to wheel spacers. 

The goal of wheel spacers is to allow the Jeep to have larger wheels and a wider wheelbase, but this modification achieves this result by adding more stress onto other components of the vehicle. 

A better way to achieve the same or similar results while strengthening the Jeep and increasing its performance on the road and the trail is to install a suspension lift kit onto the vehicle. 

Lifting the suspension with stiffer springs and better shocks increases the vehicle’s height. It allows for much larger wheels while increasing the rigidity and control of the suspension rather than decreasing it. 

Final Word

Wheel spacers can work for some Jeeps, and if they are installed well and use high-quality components, they can be effective in some situations. 

Most Jeep experts advise against this modification and recommend a lifted suspension kit instead. 

If you do add wheel spacers to your Jeep, be aware that there may be unintentional drawbacks that come with this modification, and it will increase the cost of maintaining the vehicle long-term. 

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