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Old 03-23-2012, 08:21 PM   #1
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Wheel Spacers and Aftermarket Wheel Backspacing

I just picked up some wheel spacers and the more I think about it I am hesitant to put them on. My JKUR is a DD and will get nearly 20K miles/year and I'm concerned about trashing the wheel bearings. Which makes me wonder if aftermarket wheels (specifically AEV wheels in this case) will do the same?

Any practical experience on this?

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Old 03-23-2012, 09:19 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by TDUFF View Post
I just picked up some wheel spacers and the more I think about it I am hesitant to put them on. My JKUR is a DD and will get nearly 20K miles/year and I'm concerned about trashing the wheel bearings. Which makes me wonder if aftermarket wheels (specifically AEV wheels in this case) will do the same?

Any practical experience on this?
The bearings get stressed when your wheels stick out too far. You're stock rims have a backspacing of 6.25", which is very tight against the Jeep. Too tight to add even a leveling kit without needing either spacers, or new rims (because of the new sway bar links).

In general, for aftermarket tires/lifts you want a wheel with 4.5" of backspacing, or less. The smaller the #, the farther out your wheels will be from the Jeep.

The farther out they are, the more stress they place on your wheel bearings. You're fine down to about 3.75" or so...though there are other factors involved, such as tire size, weight, etc.

IMO, it's better to buy wheels with proper bs than to use spacers. That's mainly a personal preference. Spacers today, such as the ones made by Spidertrax, are relatively safe, but need to be checked periodically to make sure they remain within torque specs (which means the wheels gotta come off).

If through a combination of spacers and your stock wheels, or simply by buying new wheels, you stay at or above the 3.75" bs, you shouldn't have too many worries about your bearings.

AEV's Pintlers, by the way, have a bs of 4.75", IIRC. So if you use em without spacers, you'll be good for most applications (the exception being lifts that require less bs).

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Old 03-23-2012, 10:11 PM   #3
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Had spacers on for 16 months now and my ball joints are just fine
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Old 03-23-2012, 10:25 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by kbwwolf
Too tight to add even a leveling kit without needing either spacers, or new rims (because of the new sway bar links).
Nah, leveling kit doesn't require them since the new links included with the kit go up front.
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Old 03-23-2012, 10:46 PM   #5
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Nah, leveling kit doesn't require them since the new links included with the kit go up front.
At this time I plan on only using the 1" front and 1" rear coil spacers from the TF leveling kit (with the Spidertrax spacers). If I go with 2" front spacers (2 - 1" spacers) I will need the TF links versus stock which require the sway bars to be drilled/dremelled out for the TF SB links. They have larger diameter studs than stock Rubi upper SB link studs. I just can't bring myself to drill them out! What if I decide to do something different later and the drilled out SB is too large a diameter?

Thanks for the education on back spacing - I do not want to trash my bearings.
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Old 03-23-2012, 10:54 PM   #6
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At this time I plan on only using the 1" front and 1" rear coil spacers from the TF leveling kit (with the Spidertrax spacers). If I go with 2" front spacers (2 - 1" spacers) I will need the TF links versus stock which require the sway bars to be drilled/dremelled out for the TF SB links. They have larger diameter studs than stock Rubi upper SB link studs. I just can't bring myself to drill them out! What if I decide to do something different later and the drilled out SB is too large a diameter?

Thanks for the education on back spacing - I do not want to trash my bearings.
hhmm...First I have heard of that. No drilling was required for my sway bar end links and I have the exact kit you are looking at. Is this only on the Rubis?
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Old 03-23-2012, 11:02 PM   #7
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Please correct me if I am wrong, but the stress placed on the wheel bearings is caused by the axial load of the tire in relation to the static position of the bearing assembly.
So if we think of it in terms of leverage applied to the bearings, as the tire goes further out from the hub, the bearings begin to suffer a greater amount of stress regardless of whether we use a spacer or an aftermarket wheel with a different amount of back spacing to accomplish this.
In other words, the bearings ( if this does cause premature wear) wouldn't know the difference ! Spacers or different wheels (with different b.s.) would shift the load further out causing the same stress. It seems like it just boils down to which method you prefer.
Or is my logic wrong?
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Old 03-23-2012, 11:30 PM   #8
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Your logic is sound. A spacer puts no more stress on the bearings than a wheel with the same backspace.
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Old 03-23-2012, 11:37 PM   #9
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Just a note of caution on spacers, they are illegal in some states and many tire places will not touch your vehicle if you have them on it. Check the installation precautions too. They will generally say either: 1. for off road use only; or 2. they must be re-torqued at specific miles of use. They will add legal liability to your use of them should they have a problem and cause harm to others, even if the "other" is in your own vehicle. This is why they put the warnings in the instruction sheets.
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Old 03-24-2012, 12:03 AM   #10
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That was my thought on getting spacers. What difference is there between spacers moving the tire out or back spacing. Won't they do the same thing on components as far as more stress? You are still moving the tire farther out. Or am I incorrect?
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Old 03-24-2012, 12:04 AM   #11
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That was my thought on getting spacers. What difference is there between spacers moving the tire out or back spacing. Won't they do the same thing on components as far as more stress? You are still moving the tire farther out. Or am I incorrect?
No, you are correct.
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Old 03-24-2012, 12:56 AM   #12
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They will do the same on existing components (stock) on the jeep. The spacers do add a complexity regarding stress on the spacer component itself and an additional set of bolts/nuts. If I decide to move my wheels out, it will be done with a wheel with the proper back space not spacers. I would consider that the safest way to accomplish moving the wheels out.
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Old 03-24-2012, 01:00 AM   #13
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Dang it. Now I'm freaking out a little bit. My JKU is a DD carting around my wife and 2 kids but I was planning on lifting it (Teraflex 2.5) and maintaining stock rubi wheels and tires. I planned on doing a little wheeling, nothing too serious. I had no idea I would have to put spacers on along with some legal liabilities.
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Old 03-24-2012, 01:02 AM   #14
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I still have a lot of tire left on the stock tires. This was my best option for the time being. Northridge said the Spider Trax were their number one selling item. Can't be all bad.
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Old 03-24-2012, 01:06 AM   #15
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I still have a lot of tire left on the stock tires. This was my best option for the time being. Northridge said the Spider Trax were their number one selling item. Can't be all bad.
Can't be all bad doesn't change the legal liability that comes with putting spacers on. Read the materials that come with the spacers. They don't put those statements in there for nothing. Most spacer manufacturers are now posting the instructions (and cautions) up on their web site. So it is easy to read ahead of time BEFORE you purchase them.
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Old 03-24-2012, 01:08 AM   #16
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Ours is a DD. I have the Teraflex 2.5" coil lift and Spider Trax spacers. Ride is great with no problems.
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Old 03-24-2012, 01:12 AM   #17
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Ours is a DD. I have the Teraflex 2.5" coil lift and Spider Trax spacers. Ride is great with no problems.
Yes, and for the great majority of users of the product, that is what the result is. I'm just saying that there is no published statistics on problems with them and you can't depend on the manufacturer to say why they put those legal statements in their materials that go in with the product. But if you have a problem with one of them and it causes injury, you are on the hook legally because you ignored the warnings and did it anyway. That is how lawyers stay in business. (sorry Mike....you know who you are...)
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Old 03-24-2012, 03:24 AM   #18
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Old 03-24-2012, 03:58 AM   #19
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Our stock 17x7.5 in wheels I would have thought were the same as yours (+44.5mm offset, 6in backspace, 245/75 17 Goodyear Wranglers etc.)?

I have stock wheels and tyres on a 3in lift (sitting about 2.75in above stock) and have no issues with swaybar links. Can give more details if anyone is needing it.
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Old 03-24-2012, 08:20 AM   #20
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hhmm...First I have heard of that. No drilling was required for my sway bar end links and I have the exact kit you are looking at. Is this only on the Rubis?
It is only on Rubi's, pesumably from the electronic SB disconnect assembly. Still puzzles me why Chrysler would opt for this which drives different SB links. Just more part numbers to deal with.
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Old 03-31-2012, 11:08 PM   #21
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BS question

I have a 4" Rough Country lift with 35X12.50 17's GY Fierce MTs and they rub my control arms just slightly with stock wheels. Would I be fine with a 5" BS wheel I do I really need to go with 4.5? Not a DD.

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