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Do I need spacers for alloy wheels and if so why ?

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When I bought my 90 couple of years back it came with a set of Discovery alloy wheels, one of the things my wife liked about it when we went looking at it (women eh, I was underneath checking the chassis etc she was checking out its external appearance).

Anyway without rambling on to much I must admit they where in good condition so was happy to stick with them. Shortly after buying the vehicle I went to buy a roof rack off a guy local to me, he was doing his 90 up and didn't need the rack. He happen to remark on my wheels and asked if I had fitted spacers. To which my reply was no idea the wheels came with the vehicle and I have not had them off yet ?

Obviously over time I have had the wheels off and on several times and there are no spacers.

I assumed at the time of this guy's comment in my ignorance that it was just a cosmetic mod to extend the wheels outwards providing a wider foot print. However, since then I have come across odd comments in articles etc relating to fitting spacers with alloy wheels but never really got to the bottom of why they should be or if they need to be fitted ?

Ive had the usual problems getting the wheels off in the past, I thought that might be the reason for fitting them. Although I personally got around this problem with copper grease on the inside of the wheel and on the hub face.

Thought it might have been and issue with turning the wheels and them catching somewhere during full lock, but that doesn't appear to be the case either.

Can anyone enlighten me to the real reason spacers are fitted to alloy wheels and are they essential or nice to have ?

Regards Ian


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1.Spacers/adaptors may be required if the rear axle has drum brakes [all Discovery/RRC have rear disc brakes from new] 90/110 used to have rear drum brakes & alloy wheels won't fit correctly as the inner face of the wheel fouls on the hub drive members & drum edges.some more info about this here --------- http://www.web-rover.co.uk/nav.php?p=articles/alloys

2, if alloys from a later P38 RR or discovery 2 are used the stud hole spacing is different, so adaptors from the hub to new whel are needed otherwise they won't fit.

3. rear disc braked 90/110 don't need spacers/adaptors as the alloy wheel should be a straight non foul fit

4. spacers come in various widths i.e. 20,30,40,50 or even 60mm these just increase the track of the axle & help wheel/tyre 'fill out' the arches better.


hth :)


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Thanks Western that's a great explanation and completely cleared things up for me.

I have rear disc brakes so explains why there isn't a problem there. Obviously there isn't a problem with the stud spacing as they are on already, so probably from Discovery 1 which makes sense - they are tidy and functional but a bit dated.

I originally had a set of 235 70/16's tyre's on, which had seen better day's so decided to change them. As the only good tyre on the vehicle was the spare and that was a 305 R 16.

I decided to go with that size and to be fair I am using it for the majority of the time on the road, so I went for some Goodyear Wrangler ATS 305 R 16's. They have been great with little signs of wear over the last couple of years and have a low road noise.

However, I see the point they do appear a bit lost in the wheel arch and spacers would improve the appearance, fetching the wheels closer to the outer wheel arch. But this is a cosmetic change rather than a functional one, nice to have but not necessary. Unfortunately, I have other expenses at the moment that take priority for my spare cash.

I assume I would also need some extra long wheel nuts with the 30mm spacers, so again extra expense on top of the spacers ?

Thanks for the reply




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Spacers/Adaptors are secured to the axles with the standard LR whhel nuts for the standard steel whhels, then the alloy wheel is secured to studs built into the spacer/adaptor, so no new studs required.

like this ------------ you can see the standard nuts on the hub studs & the new studs on the spacer.

this photo borrowed from http://www.nickslandrover.co.uk/wheels-and-spacers/ [photo credit to LR4x4.com member - Snagger] 

wheels-spacers 006.jpg

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Where did you get that picture, Ralph?  It's one of mine, and some folk have been taking pictures from my blog and passing the work off as their own.  No problem using it in this context, but just wondering if I need to chase down another copyright thief...

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Yes, I googled search for wheel spacers & it resulted with your page, it was exactly what was needed to illustrate the attachment of spacer to hub, a link to your page has been added to the earlier reply. Yes I should of added a credit to you which has been done now. 

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I use spacers on my hubs for the simple reason that the wheel studs are longer than standard. These compensate for the thicker nave plate of my Wolf wheels and allow full engagement of the wheel nuts. 

This solution was much cheaper and less hassle than new longer studs on the hub.


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