Wheel adapters are devices that are used to change a vehicle’s bolt pattern without having to change the hub assembly. They are normally used when car owners want to fit aftermarket rims that have a completely different bolt pattern from that of their vehicle.
Wheel adapters are fixed directly onto the hubs and come with lug bolts or nuts that match your existing wheels. They provide the mounting area needed by your aftermarket rims. They also give you extra offset which you can use to install wider tires and rims for enhanced vehicle performance.
Wheel adapters allow car owners to fit wheels designed for a different car other than theirs. This is especially, if the other car has a different bolt pattern compared to that of the owner. For example, wheel adapters can be used to fit 6x5 inch wheels to a car with a 6x5.5 inch bolt pattern. They also allow owners to install aftermarket wheels meant for other vehicles. Sometimes, they are used to fit stock and aftermarket wheels on trailers.
Wheel adapters and wheel spacers are different. The main role that wheel adapters play is allowing car owners to fit wheels of a different bolt pattern. This is despite their ability to increase offset.
Unlike wheel spacers, wheel adapters do not require any additional hardware to install. They are secured to the hub using existing lug nuts. Once installed, they conceal your factory studs and keep them from interfering with your new wheels. This ensures that you get a reliable driving experience.
On the other hand, wheel spacers are installed between the hub and wheels to create the offset required for larger wheels. They are built to match a vehicle’s bolt pattern and make no alterations to it. They’re mounted onto existing studs and allow the wheels to fit normally.
Without spacers, certain aftermarket wheels would sit dangerously close to other car components, such as the inner wheel well. They would rub onto these components and accelerate their rate of wear and tear. Other reasons for installing wheel spacers include to improve the appearance of the car, enhance its handling and performance, and to increase traction especially during cornering.
Bolt pattern refers to the spacing of the bolts that allow car owners to mount wheels onto the hub. The holes present are spaced equally around a circle that surrounds the hub. A bolt pattern of 5x112 means that there are 5 wheel bolts arranged in a circle that has a diameter of 112 millimeters. Unless you’re working on a really old car, you should be able to discover your vehicle’s bolt pattern from a reliable online source.
To get the right stud length when ordering for your wheel adapters, use a caliper to measure the bolt holes found at the back of your wheels. Pay close attention as some holes could be oversized. For example, 12x1.5 studs measure 12 mm in diameter and 1.5 mm in thread pitch. Such types of studs can fit a 12 to 13 mm hole. A 14 mm stud will not. You may need extended studs if your wheels have thick backpads.
The thickness of your wheel adaptors will be determined by the offset and width of your wheels. Wheel offset is the distance between the center of the wheel’s width and its mounting surface. A positive offset means that the mounting pad is placed close to the wheel’s face. A negative offset means that the mounting pad is placed closer to the car. A wheel offset of 0 means that the wheel mounting pad is placed at the center of the wheel.
Slip-on spacers resemble discs that slide over the wheel studs. To ensure that your wheel studs are not greatly weakened, make sure that the wheel spacer is not too thick. Smaller thicknesses of about ¼ inch work fine. Thicker spacers create a large bending moment since the lug nuts sit further away. They are, hence, stressed more under heavy braking or acceleration.
Bolt-on adapters are installed onto the car just like normal wheels. They have studs which the rim bolts into. The studs are pushed through the adapter before reaching the rims. To bolt on the adapters, you can either use a lug nut with washers and a long shank or, an acorned lug nut which bolts onto the adapters. The latter method is more precise.