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Unread 03-01-2014, 08:37 AM   #1
KaiserJeep
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The correct way to use wheel spacers

No offense, but there are both GOOD and BAD spacers depending on what you buy. Many Jeep owners have bought the wrong wheels or the wrong wheel spacers, and are reluctant to admit this. This topic is not simple.

Jeeps use "hub centric" wheels which wrap tightly about the raised center hub of a Jeep axle. GOOD wheel spacers have both a recess on the backside to fit tightly around the axle hub, and a raised ring on the outside to fit the wheel recess.

Many, many wheel dealers ignore this basic feature when they sell aftermarket wheels. They sell wheels with an oversized center hole that fit a variety of axles, but are only "hub centric" on the one axle the wheel fits tightly around. They will swear this does not matter, but it does - the center hub aligns and centers the wheel, and the wheel studs only clamp it on. This is stronger and more maintenance free than using the "stud centric" style of wheel - which must be checked regularly, and if it comes loose, it is dangerous. The exact same considerations apply to wheel spacers as to wheels, you should only use a "hub centric" wheel spacer between a "hub centric" axle and a "hub centric" Jeep wheel.


There is a lot of confusion about this point, because the term "hub centric" is application specific. What I mean by that is that a wheel or wheel spacer that is "hub centric" in a Jeep application, because it has a 2.810" center recess, may NOT be "hub centric" on another vehicle which requires a 2.500" center recess. The Jeep wheel would be oversized and held on only by the studs.

Here is a Jeep hub, aka a "unit bearing" (this is an aftermarket hub, stock hubs have a rougher finish)(the wires are for the ABS sensor which most Jeeps do not have). This hub is normally out of sight under the front brake rotor, with the raised ring and studs protruding through the center raised portion of the brake rotor:



Here is a hub centric Jeep steel wheel with a 2.810" opening:


Here is a Jeep alloy wheel , which is also "hub centric". However the REAR recess is the same 2.810" as the steel wheel, to fit the stock raised 2.810" Jeep hub. Note also that stock Jeep alloy wheels also typically have a chamfer to help you center over the axle hub:


....while in front they have a smaller hole that is most often filled with a matching plastic center cap that says "Jeep" (missing in this photo). The smaller outside hole is about 1.8", but you measure the INSIDE HOLE.


DO please take the time to understand and get this right. Jeep owners who fit wheels or wheel spacers with oversized center holes and who ALSO forget to tighten the lugs (or at least check to make sure they are ALWAYS tight) have been known to have broken studs and even wheels that came loose and passed them on the highway. This is of course really dangerous and may cause a high speed rollover.

Jeep owners frequently get in trouble because of the common practice that aftermarket suppliers use to reduce inventory costs. They stock one wheel for several vehicles, which is only hub centric on the largest axle hub. Even Jeep owners who KNOW and UNDERSTAND the difference have been known to buy such in search of instant gratification - rather than put money down and wait for a special order of five wheels that fit Jeep axles with the 2.810" hubs. This of course dooms them to checking wheel lugs forevermore - when a hub centric wheel would fit and never require that stud tightness be checked, because the studs don't wiggle back and forth as the wheel turns, and they don't fatigue and break off, and don't need replacing.

In fact properly fitted Jeep wheels can be left on for years, and if driven in Winter on salted roads, have been known to corrode in place around the hub, requiring extra effort to remove. Better that than a loose wheel and broken wheel studs.

I'm not saying you can't make wheels with oversized center holes work on a Jeep. Obviously, many people do. I am saying there is no reason to give yourself an extra periodic maintenance check, or to add even a moderate degree of risk to a Jeep that will have your friends and family inside.

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Unread 03-01-2014, 09:37 AM   #2
biffgnar
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Are you back on this kick again? As has been discussed many times in your rants on this subject, lug centric wheels (which almost all aftermarket wheels are) or spacers are perfectly fine if used with the correct lug nuts and properly installed. And they don't come loose, break lugs or require constant retorquing. Fear mongering is really not a cool thing!
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Unread 03-01-2014, 11:04 AM   #3
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The 'correct' way, Is to buy the 'correct' wheels and not spacers. Its a lot safer and same cost most times, Wheels vs spacers, No brainer!
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Unread 03-01-2014, 05:59 PM   #4
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There is more to this. First, when a factory wheel is "hub centric", it means the bore center is concentric with the bolt circle; the wheel is manufactured & balanced around both the bore center and the bolt circle; and the bore center fits snugly enough on the hub to keep the studs perfectly centered in the bolt holes. When you say an aftermarket wheel is hub centric to only one axle size, that would ONLY be true if the bore center is concentric with the bolt circle and there were some hub out there that the hub bore fits snugly on. When an aftermarket wheel says it is hub centric, it does not mean for a specific vehicle, but that the bore center is concentric with the bolt circle. Aftermarket wheels which are bolt circle centered AND whose bore center isn't concentric with the bolt circle must state so in the wheel packaging, because if the tire shop spins on the bore center, it won't have zero runout or balance properly on the car, and so requires a bolt circle adapter be used on the tire balancing machine. Actually this should be done for all aftermarket wheels anyway, although it's probably seldom done. This also means that if you intend to buy hub rings for an aftermarket wheel in order to make it hub centric for your Jeep, you need to make sure the bore center is concentric to the bolt circle, else you could be turning your bolt circle centered wheel into an egg on your Jeep, assuming you could get the studs through the holes.

As for the aftermarket wheels moving around or coming loose, the mounting surface around the bolt holes on aftermarket wheels is not flat by design and acts like lock washers on each stud.
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Unread 03-02-2014, 06:23 PM   #5
KaiserJeep
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Let me simply observe:

1) Jeep-designed wheels and hubs are hub-centric by design and high quality, the lugs are perfectly centered in the holes which have tapered nuts and the lug holes have tapered seats. Therefore Jeep wheels use BOTH the lugs and the hub which is stronger than either alone.

2) When you fit oversized tires and wider wheels, you are increasing the forces and the stress on the axle. You should not also weaken the connection between the wheel and the axle by eliminating the tightly fitted hub and center bore. Instead you should plan to retain all the strength already present, versus weakening a vital safety area on the vehicle.

Take the time to understand this topic.
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Unread 03-11-2014, 09:58 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KaiserJeep View Post
Let me simply observe:

1) Jeep-designed wheels and hubs are hub-centric by design and high quality, the lugs are perfectly centered in the holes which have tapered nuts and the lug holes have tapered seats. Therefore Jeep wheels use BOTH the lugs and the hub which is stronger than either alone.

2) When you fit oversized tires and wider wheels, you are increasing the forces and the stress on the axle. You should not also weaken the connection between the wheel and the axle by eliminating the tightly fitted hub and center bore. Instead you should plan to retain all the strength already present, versus weakening a vital safety area on the vehicle.

Take the time to understand this topic.
I can dig it. I went with the RC hub adapters (HA) that fit snugly on the hub and torqued them to specs. Every time I re-check the HA torque they're spot on from the day I installed them over two years ago and three tire rotations later. Still love the OEM Silverblade wheels that are factory and I don't plan on upgrading to bigger wheels so this allows me to try different tire height/widths.
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Unread 03-11-2014, 11:53 AM   #7
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Thanks, it is gratifying when even one person understands the issue.

Many Jeep owners feel a burning desire to fit larger tires, and roll away from a tire/wheel dealer with an oversized hole around the stock center hub, because they wanted immediate gratification. Then they have created a periodic maintenance task and experience broken studs and lost lug nuts. They have also increased the stress on the hub while weakening the connection between hub and wheel. Yet they will NEVER admit the truth that they downgraded that part of their Jeep, or that they increased the danger of losing a wheel.

I'm with you, I have two pairs of SpiderTrax wheel spacers which have been in place since 2004. I like the way the stock Moab rims look on a Rubicon, and I continue to use these quality wheels with 33" tires that are 12.2" wide.
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Unread 03-11-2014, 03:37 PM   #8
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Man You are FULL OF ****!

Loose a wheel my ***. I have been driving on aftermarket jeep wheels every time I buy one. The stock junk gets sold for better wheels and tires. I ran 3.5" BS for 150k, Never had any of the LIE'S you are trying to pimp out.

Never broke a stud, Or 'lost a lug' or a wheel for that matter or even close. There is no more maintenance with aftermarket vs stock wheels, There is common sense jeep maintenance. Plus the fact, If what you say is true, They wouldn't be able to make aftermarket wheels for jeeps for liability issues.

Go piss down others backs and tell them its raining, This thread is nothing but lies and a joke!
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Unread 03-11-2014, 03:47 PM   #9
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Not really trying to stir the pot and I'll admit I'm always open to being wrong but first I'd need some serious testing to go on to make me believe a loose fitting hub is doing anything. If it's not a press fit it can still move a little and I'm doubting the wheel is really moving around. 5 high strength 1/2" bolts should be plenty capable of keeping a jeep wheel in one place.
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Unread 03-11-2014, 04:06 PM   #10
KaiserJeep
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Originally Posted by KKiowaTJ View Post
Man You are FULL OF ****!

Loose a wheel my ***. I have been driving on aftermarket jeep wheels every time I buy one. The stock junk gets sold for better wheels and tires. I ran 3.5" BS for 150k, Never had any of the LIE'S you are trying to pimp out.

Never broke a stud, Or 'lost a lug' or a wheel for that matter or even close. There is no more maintenance with aftermarket vs stock wheels, There is common sense jeep maintenance. Plus the fact, If what you say is true, They wouldn't be able to make aftermarket wheels for jeeps for liability issues.

Go piss down others backs and tell them its raining, This thread is nothing but lies and a joke!
Get over it, you bought the wrong wheels. Note that I never said that the wrong wheels will not work or cannot be used - only that it is better, stronger, and safer if you bought the correct wheels for a Jeep.

As for liability issues, there are none. You are ultimately responsible for modifications made to your vehicle, and every wheel made has a center bore that fits some axle somewhere. The wheel/tire dealers are the ones cheating, and not all of them: some dealers machine the center bore to fit the application, and others supply spacer rings that fill the gap between hub and wheel.

Look around this Forum and others. You will find sage advice from old timers to check your lug torque after each offroad trip, or once per month, or some other such advice. All of this comes from people who have used the wrong wheels, then broken studs, or lost a lug, or lost a wheel. You will even find pictures and stories of highway speed rollovers after losing a wheel.

None of this is necessary if you use the right wheel for a Jeep. After you get your Jeep back from the tire dealer, you set the lug torque once with a torque wrench. Then you can drive around until the next time you rotate your tires.

Note that this is a hard thing to understand, and people will still ask non-sense questions, such as "Is that a hub-centric wheel?" The answer is that if the wheel center bore fits tightly around the raised hub, it is hub-centric in that single application. "Hub Centric" only makes sense when you are talking about both an axle and a wheel.

I understand why this topic upsets people. The new wheels and tires are often more costly than the lift that lets you fit the oversized tires. It is inconceivable that you would screw this up after such careful planning and after spending so much money.

At least, you now know how to get it right next time.
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Unread 03-11-2014, 05:56 PM   #11
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The idea behind hub-centric is that they center up on the hub. This cures any vibration issues that can be caused by misalignment on a lug-centric setup. And that's it. Hub-centric wheels are not any more or any less strong than their lug-centric counterparts.

As with spacers; hub-centric spacers should be fine because they center up on the hub. The only drawback is if they reduce the amount of threading on the lug nuts. In order for a lug to correctly clamp the wheel onto the hub, the thread length must equal the diameter of the stud.

The only spacers I won't even touch are the free-floating bargain bin crap. They are nothing but trouble, as they reduce the threading of the lug nuts.

Now as far as wheels falling off, high quality spacers have a relatively low risk, being they tend to be high quality materials, and often use a hub-centric design. The low end spacers, I have seen everything from constant vibration issues to wheels falling off.

I read part of your article. I agree with most of the technical stuff because it backs up what I have seen in the past. But the fear-mongering, whether intended or not, is what I don't agree with.

Like with anything else in the world of nuts and bolts. Use common sense. And if it doesn't look right, it probably isn't right.
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Unread 03-11-2014, 08:10 PM   #12
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ANY alloy wheel needs re torqued after 100 miles +/-. More so checking them frequently is called 'maintenance' and using your head. If you slap your wheels on and torque and go, You are an idiot!
The studs themselves are small even with stock wheels. So to not go and re check them with big tires, Is flat out retarded! You are asking for fail. But as it sit, My wheels are the correct wheels for jeeps and the 1/2-20 lug keeps them tight and centered from rotation to rotation.
If any wheels are not correct, It would be you're not turning upstairs!
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Unread 03-12-2014, 12:32 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Scrmngchicken View Post
The idea behind hub-centric is that they center up on the hub. This cures any vibration issues that can be caused by misalignment on a lug-centric setup. And that's it. Hub-centric wheels are not any more or any less strong than their lug-centric counterparts.

As with spacers; hub-centric spacers should be fine because they center up on the hub. The only drawback is if they reduce the amount of threading on the lug nuts. In order for a lug to correctly clamp the wheel onto the hub, the thread length must equal the diameter of the stud.

The only spacers I won't even touch are the free-floating bargain bin crap. They are nothing but trouble, as they reduce the threading of the lug nuts.

Now as far as wheels falling off, high quality spacers have a relatively low risk, being they tend to be high quality materials, and often use a hub-centric design. The low end spacers, I have seen everything from constant vibration issues to wheels falling off.

I read part of your article. I agree with most of the technical stuff because it backs up what I have seen in the past. But the fear-mongering, whether intended or not, is what I don't agree with.

Like with anything else in the world of nuts and bolts. Use common sense. And if it doesn't look right, it probably isn't right.
With respect, this does not match my experience. When she was in college, my daughter flew back to California with her boyfriend, and borrowed her Mother's '92 XJ for a round trip from San Jose to Disneyland. She had a flat repair done just before getting there. She complained of a "funny noise" that lasted all the way back home. When I checked the Jeep, I found two missing lug nuts and three that were only finger tight - the tire repair guy (or maybe the boyfriend) had screwed up when he put on the spare.

There was an aluminum-colored ring around the center hub where the weight of that corner of the Jeep had ridden and rubbed for 370 miles. You can't tell me that a wheel with an oversized center bore would have remained attached to the Jeep.

I was in an old International Scout that was passed on the highway by one of the rear wheels. We had fitted snow tires on all four corners using the cheapest wheels we could buy in the 1970s, which were $23 each painted white steel "spoker" rims. These did not have either a tight-fitting center bore OR conical lug holes, and we kept feeling a vibration and then would tighten the nuts more. Finally one wheel passed us on the highway, one front wheel lifted off the payment due to the heavily loaded rear and roof rack (we were headed to Maine to go snowmobiling), the rear drum started dragging on the road, and we had a scary ride into the median between the divided highway. A Maine State Trooper pointed out the problem with our wheels, and a local machine shop machined conical seats into the lug holes and fitted spacer rings in the center holes for us.

By the grace of God, we did not roll that day - four military guys in a heavily loaded Scout, wearing only ancient lap belts, and thinking we were immortal.

I don't take chances with wheels and tires, they are too vital to safety, and me, my friends, and family members are riding in my Jeeps.
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Unread 03-12-2014, 01:47 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KaiserJeep View Post

With respect, this does not match my experience. When she was in college, my daughter flew back to California with her boyfriend, and borrowed her Mother's '92 XJ for a round trip from San Jose to Disneyland. She had a flat repair done just before getting there. She complained of a "funny noise" that lasted all the way back home. When I checked the Jeep, I found two missing lug nuts and three that were only finger tight - the tire repair guy (or maybe the boyfriend) had screwed up when he put on the spare.

There was an aluminum-colored ring around the center hub where the weight of that corner of the Jeep had ridden and rubbed for 370 miles. You can't tell me that a wheel with an oversized center bore would have remained attached to the Jeep.

I was in an old International Scout that was passed on the highway by one of the rear wheels. We had fitted snow tires on all four corners using the cheapest wheels we could buy in the 1970s, which were $23 each painted white steel "spoker" rims. These did not have either a tight-fitting center bore OR conical lug holes, and we kept feeling a vibration and then would tighten the nuts more. Finally one wheel passed us on the highway, one front wheel lifted off the payment due to the heavily loaded rear and roof rack (we were headed to Maine to go snowmobiling), the rear drum started dragging on the road, and we had a scary ride into the median between the divided highway. A Maine State Trooper pointed out the problem with our wheels, and a local machine shop machined conical seats into the lug holes and fitted spacer rings in the center holes for us.

By the grace of God, we did not roll that day - four military guys in a heavily loaded Scout, wearing only ancient lap belts, and thinkiDrng we were immortal.

I don't take chances with wheels and tires, they are too vital to safety, and me, my friends, and family members are riding in my Jeeps.
So a likely instance of user error (who ever did the flat repair) and an experience with a low quality antiquated wheel are an indictment of the modern wheel market? Keep talking Chicken Little.
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Unread 03-12-2014, 06:59 PM   #15
Scrmngchicken
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KaiserJeep View Post
With respect, this does not match my experience. When she was in college, my daughter flew back to California with her boyfriend, and borrowed her Mother's '92 XJ for a round trip from San Jose to Disneyland. She had a flat repair done just before getting there. She complained of a "funny noise" that lasted all the way back home. When I checked the Jeep, I found two missing lug nuts and three that were only finger tight - the tire repair guy (or maybe the boyfriend) had screwed up when he put on the spare.

There was an aluminum-colored ring around the center hub where the weight of that corner of the Jeep had ridden and rubbed for 370 miles. You can't tell me that a wheel with an oversized center bore would have remained attached to the Jeep.

I was in an old International Scout that was passed on the highway by one of the rear wheels. We had fitted snow tires on all four corners using the cheapest wheels we could buy in the 1970s, which were $23 each painted white steel "spoker" rims. These did not have either a tight-fitting center bore OR conical lug holes, and we kept feeling a vibration and then would tighten the nuts more. Finally one wheel passed us on the highway, one front wheel lifted off the payment due to the heavily loaded rear and roof rack (we were headed to Maine to go snowmobiling), the rear drum started dragging on the road, and we had a scary ride into the median between the divided highway. A Maine State Trooper pointed out the problem with our wheels, and a local machine shop machined conical seats into the lug holes and fitted spacer rings in the center holes for us.

By the grace of God, we did not roll that day - four military guys in a heavily loaded Scout, wearing only ancient lap belts, and thinking we were immortal.

I don't take chances with wheels and tires, they are too vital to safety, and me, my friends, and family members are riding in my Jeeps.
This poses two issues that are completely independent of the spacers.

1. The lugs that came off likely had nothing to do with spacers. Again, the caveat is the high quality ones versus the garbage ones. Assuming the higher end ones were used, loosened lugs are a result of installer error. When installing an assembly, the hub must be free of obstructions. Rust, dirt, etc. Or in some cases grease can cause the wheel to not sit flush. A wheel not sitting flush will come loose. Second, over-torquing lugs, or hammering them on with an impact can cause the lugs to come loose. Or third, not setting the final torque to manufacturer's specs (undertorquing) will always cause a wheel to fall off. And this is fact. A properly installed bolt-on spacer will likely never cause an issue with a wheel coming loose. Placing blame on spacers such as these is unfounded.

2. The steel wheels built in the 70s were built differently than the ones today. If you look at a newer steel rim, you will see that the area near the lug seats bulges out a bit. This is a "spring" built into the wheel to allow for proper seat and bolt stretch to proper torque. The older styles (I cannot remember their names off-hand at the moment) were a flat style and relied only on bolt stretch for proper torque. These were notorious for snapping studs due to overtorque as well as allowing lug nuts to come loose during operation. Again, not the fault of any spacer.

I understand your opinions. Personally I don't like dealing with spacers. Too many steps to keep them safe, and some people are okay with the "mad in China" types that tend to crack over time. All it takes is one... Yet at the same time I don't believe demonizing the ones that are of high quality for issues that can be traced back to more obvious conclusions.

As for the rest of the people; a man is entitled to his own opinions. And calling him "Chicken Little" instead of simply ignoring what you don't agree with is a little childish. I suggest taking the high road.

And that's all I got to say about that...
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