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Although the term wheel adapter is often used interchangeably with wheel spacers, adapters are not the same as wheel spacers. While spacers are plain metallic automobile parts designed to fit into the mounting hub of desired vehicles, adapters, on the other hand, are designed to be used on vehicles with different bolt patterns as the target wheel.
Consequently, the two sides of a wheel adapter are of different configurations. Each face matching the wheels’ hub and the tyre mounting surface respectively. When mounting wheel adapters, it is important to stay within the size limits. Wheel adapters were popularized by the Volkswagen Beetle. The default bolt configuration had made it quite impossible for it to be fitted with fancy rims. In a bid to solve this unique challenge, special forms of spacers to adapt the rims to those of Ford and Chevrolet were developed.
Before ordering and installing a set of spacers or wheel adapters, the desired offset should be considered. The wheel offset is a linear distance measured from a centerline across the wheel to the mounting surface. The offset can be positive, zero, or negative. A positive offset essentially means the wheel is sucked in or moved towards the vehicle. A negative offset, on the other hand, would mean that the centre of the wheel is pushed out a bit from the vehicle.
Advantages of Using spacer and Wheel Adapter
Aside from the added advantage of being able to use wheels with different configurations on your car, spacers, and wheel adapters perform the same function; they help create a negative offset on your wheel. Consequently, your wheels are pushed out a little resulting in a more aggressive and sturdy appearance. There is also more even distribution of the weight of the car across the wheel. The traction of the vehicle as wheel as the overall stability of the car is improved.
Should I use a wheel spacer or a wheel adapter?
The decision to use a spacer or wheel adapter is dependent on what you desire to achieve. If you desire is to just increase the offset of your wheel to accommodate for a larger wheel, then it is recommended that you use a wheel spacer. However, if you have desired to change from a 5x100 to 4x100. then a wheel adapter is what you need.