How to Choose and Install ATV Wheel Spacers
ATV wheel spacers can help you resolve clearance issues when making tire upgrades or add stability to your ride. This post will help you choose and install ATV wheel spacers. We'll be focusing on ring spacers because they're the most common spacers used on ATVs.
Should You Install ATV Wheel Spacers
The first question to ask is whether wheel spacers are really the best option.
Widening your ATV can help you take corners at greater speeds more safely, but it also puts more strain on your ATV and demands more rigorous maintenance. Make sure you want the benefit enough to justify the added care and expense you'll need to put into the machine.
There are also other ways to widen your ATV. You can flip the wheels or upgrade your axles and A-arms with wider aftermarket parts.
Flipping the wheels is a cheap and easy method, but you may have to modify the tire stem a little to make it work and you may need to consider what flipping the tires will do to your tire tread.
If you're a trail rider who doesn't punish their machine too much, wheel spacers are fine, but if you ride rough, you'll do better with new axles and A-arms.
How to Choose ATV Wheel Spacers
Wheel spacers cost around $50 to $250. Depending on your budget, you may be willing to go higher or lower in that range, but definitely purchase at least mid-range wheel spacers. It's better to invest in quality for your ATV than risk accident or damages from inferior parts, and wheels aren't anything you want to play around with.
You can purchase universal spacers, but they won't fit as well. To determine which bolt pattern to buy, you'll need to get some measurements.
Find a spacer that's already on your machine.
Determine if it has 3, 4, or 5 lugs.
With a 3 lug spacer, measure the diameter of the circular opening between the bolts. Add your measurement into the bolt pattern and read as: 3xyour measurement.
With a 4 lug spacer, measure the distance between the center of two of the bolts either at the top or the bottom. Add your measurement into the bolt pattern and read as: 4xyour measurement.
With a 5 lug spacer, measure the distance between the center of one bolt and the farthest edge of the bolt that is farthest away. Add your measurement into the bolt pattern and read as: 5xyour measurement.
Measure the wheel hub diameter and make sure that the spacer is the same size or larger to achieve optimum surface contact.
Spacers range in size from 0.5 inches to up to 3 inches. 3 inches isn't recommended though. If you need spacers that large, you'd probably do better with a wider aftermarket lift kit. 2 inches is fine, if you need that much.
Consider how much total width you need and how much clearance you want for each wheel and remember that because you'll be adding one to both sides, the total width of the vehicle will increase by double the size of the spacer you add.
It is best to err on the side of less. Get the smallest spacer that will serve your needs.
Keep in mind that your ATV should always be slightly wider in the front than in the rear. Note the slight. There's no need to create a huge difference. Some people don't even add spacers to the back. They just add small ones to the front. An ATV that is too wide in the back is more likely to tip over and you may misjudge the width you can pass through when the widest part of your machine is behind you.
How to Install ATV Wheel Spacers
To install wheel spacers, you'll need:
- jack and jack stands
- a lug wrench
- a torque wrench
- a plastic mallet
Loosen the lug nuts just a bit.
Jack the front of the ATV up and secure it with jack stands.
Finish unscrewing the lug nuts and take the wheel off of the wheel hub.
Hold the spacer so its lugs are facing you and pair the spacer with the lugs on the wheel hub, sliding it on flat so that all the lugs go into the holes at the same time.
You may need to use the plastic mallet to gently tap the spacer so that it is fully seated.
Thread the nuts that came with the spacer onto the wheel hub.
You will need these nuts to be tightened precisely. Get out the instructions that came with the spacer to see exactly how tight they need to be. This is where the torque wrench comes in handy.
Thread the tire onto the studs on the spacer just so they'll stay in place.
Lower the ATV.
Tighten the wheel lug nuts in a crisscross pattern. Don't over tighten them.
Lug nuts on steel rims should be tightened to 41-54 Nm and ones on aluminum rims should be tightened to 68-81 Nm.
Repeat these steps on the back wheels and you're done!
Add your wheel spacers to your before and after ride maintenance checklist to make sure they don't come loose, crack, or break. They will probably need to be tightened after every 20-30 miles.