What a wheel spacer does
A wheel spacer is a fairly simple thing. The metal disc attaches to your car’s axel and hubcap. This offsets the wheel placement on your car. The thicker the wheel spacer, the more profoundly different your tire placement will be.
There are many advantages of a wider wheel placement. The first is purely aesthetic. With the tires pushed further out, the car is closer in appearance to race cars or very high end sports cars. The outward tire placement makes the car actually look “faster” to the casual viewer. While you probably won’t be tagged for going over the speed limit just because you’ve moved your tires out a bit, it does help your car make a big statement when it’s parked next to the curb.
In addition to looking slick and smooth, wheel spacers will help your car handle a little better. A wider stance through the tires will improve your turning capacity and make the car more sensitive to steering. How pronounced these improvements will be depends on how wide the spacer is. It also depends on what you’re doing. When you’re driving city streets or commuting, you might find the improved handling no more than a mild perk. If you’re tricking out your off-road vehicle before a tournament or race, the difference will be a lot more noticeable—and useful.
A wheel adapter spaces and more
So, is a wheel adapter a wheel spacer? The short answer: yes, and more. All wheel adapters act as wheel spacers. They move the tire out to sit further away from the body. However, acting as a wheel spacer isn’t a wheel adapter’s primary purpose. Instead, the wheel adapter takes things a little further. Wheel adapters let you change what tires you can take.
What tires you can put on your car depend on a variety of factors. The most commonly important ones are the number and spacing of bolts along the hubcap. These bolts hold the tires on your car. If your car’s standard gear is built to hold tires with five bolts, you can’t use a wheel that requires six bolts. It wouldn’t be stable. It wouldn’t handle well, it would definitely wear out almost immediately, and it would be unsafe.
Likewise, if the spacing of the bolts doesn’t match between tire and car, there’s no way to use it. It literally couldn’t be put on the car. Wheel adapters are built to allow for all kinds of tires and hubcaps to work with all kinds of axels and cars.
Wheel adapters work as wheel spacers, but they do so much more. Wheel adapters allow you to fit your car with the tires and gear you want. Wheel spacers only improve the handling.