Are Wheel Spacers Safe for My Mclaren?
Everything You Need to Know About Running Spacers On A Mclaren
I get this question a lot so thought I'd share my views. The short answer is YES perfectly fine, however with any upgrade to a Mclaren you should do your research and this post helps to provide you the information you need to make an informed decision.
Wheel spacers are designed to move the wheels and tires further away from the hub of the car. They are available in both lug-centric and hub-centric designs.
Lug-centric wheel spacers rely solely on the lug nuts to center the wheel, while hub-centric wheel spacers have a centering ring built into the spacer that fits snugly around the hub, helping to center the wheel and distribute the load evenly across the entire hub.
So the first thing to note is that you want hub-centric wheel spacers not lug-centric. Here are some key differences and why we designed our Mclaren spacers to be hub-centric.
- Fitment: Hub-centric wheel spacers are designed to fit precisely on the hub of the car, providing a more accurate and secure fit than lug-centric spacers. In the design and development of our spacers getting a good hub-centric design was quite hard and took time to perfect which we document here.
- Handling: Hub-centric wheel spacers can help to improve handling and stability by reducing lateral forces on the wheel bearings, while lug-centric spacers may increase stress on the wheel studs and bearings. The issue of safety is our next major point and reason for going hub-centric.
- Safety: Hub-centric wheel spacers are considered safer and more reliable than lug-centric spacers, as they help to distribute the load more evenly across the hub and reduce the risk of wheel wobble or vibration. You do 'hear' that spacers can cause damage but this is often down to two reasons (1) the spacer is way too big for example 20mm+ and (2) lug-centric spacers have been used causing too much load and stress on components of the car.
- Price: Hub-centric wheel spacers tend to be more expensive than lug-centric spacers due to their more precise fitment and additional design features. As you'll see from our design and development blog doing things properly isn't cheap or easy!
So if its not clear already - Don't buy lug-centric only buy hub-centric wheel spacers for your Mclaren! Now to the pro's and con's of running wheel spacers on your Mclaren.
Wheel spacers can provide several benefits for track cars, including:
- Improved handling: By pushing the wheels further out from the hub, wheel spacers can increase the track width, which can help to improve the handling of the car by increasing stability and reducing body roll. This can lead to better cornering performance and more precise steering. On testing we found the extra 11.5mm of our Mclaren spacer kit really did improve turn in and help address some of the inherent understeer in the Mclaren range.
- Better weight distribution: Wheel spacers can help to improve weight distribution by moving the wheels and tires further out from the center of the car. This can help to improve traction and balance, particularly during hard cornering.
- Better brake cooling: Wheel spacers can also help to improve brake cooling by creating more space between the wheel and the brake caliper. This can allow more air to flow around the brakes, helping to dissipate heat and reduce brake fade. This in theory is true but in reality you won't feel any material difference (being honest!).
- More aggressive look: Wheel spacers can also give a car a more aggressive stance by pushing the wheels out to the edge of the fender. This can help to improve the visual appearance of the car. Our testing on a variety of models which can be read here, really proved the improvement spacers made to the look of the car and the ideal spacer widths we recommend depending on your Mclaren model.
It's important to note that wheel spacers must be used correctly to avoid negative effects on the car's handling and safety. They should only be used with proper extended bolts/lugs, and the correct size and thickness of the spacer should be selected to avoid any interference issues. Reference Guide Here.
It's also important to ensure that the wheels and tires are properly balanced after installation.
While wheel spacers can provide some benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks and risks to consider:
- Increased stress on suspension components: Using wheel spacers can increase the stress on suspension components, particularly the wheel bearings, by placing the wheels further out from the hub. This can lead to premature wear and failure of these components. You can mitigate this risk by using hub-centric wheel spacers and a spacer width which is reasonable for example we would never run a spacer over 15mm (albeit the most common is 13mm) whereas we have seen some Mclarens running 20mm+ which is too much and therefore will cause excessive stress and wear.
- Reduced thread engagement: Installing wheel spacers can reduce the amount of thread engagement between the wheel studs and the hub, which can weaken the connection between the wheel and the hub. Another reason for going hub-centric but also ensuring the correct extended bolts/lugs are used. Selecting the right bolts/lugs is also something that needs to be considered not only in terms of length but also radius of the bolt. All spacer kits we supply come with the correct bolts and match perfect to Mclaren wheels. You can see our obsession on this point with pics on our product page here.
- Increased likelihood of wheel damage: Using wheel spacers can increase the likelihood of the wheels rubbing against the fender or other components, particularly if the spacers are too thick or the wrong size. This can cause damage to the wheels, tires, or other parts of the car. Another reason we recommend not to go 'too big' on which size you select. We find 11.5mm and 13mm more than sufficient for all models.
- Warranty issues: Its a poor show if a claim is invalidated due to spacers however it is an excuse a warranty company can use. Within reason as mentioned in this post assuming the right type of spacer, width of spacer, and bolts/lugs used the risk of any premature stress or damage is low. However we all know what warranty companies can be like and they can use it as an excuse. It is often a case that should any suspension or drivetrain issue arise some owners may take the step to remove spacers before visiting a dealer. With our own cars we have never done this and often find dealers complementary on the visual appearance of the car with spacers. Its a risk but one which can be mitigated.
It's important to weigh the potential benefits and risks carefully before deciding whether to use wheel spacers on your car. If you do decide to use them, be sure to choose the right high-quality hub-centric spacers that are properly sized and matched to the correct bolt/lug length and type. Also worth noting that professional installation is always recommended.
If you'd like more information on our own Mclaren specific designed spacer and bolt kit then check them out here :)