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Spidertrax Wheel Spacers

By Chris Shontz

This story was originally run as a JKS Wheel Spacer review. JKS no longer sells these spacers. They are manufactured and sold by Spidertrax. Spacers are now produced in blue only.

If you like the wheels that are on your vehicle and you wish to install an over-sized tire that normally would not fit under your vehicle on your existing rims, then perhaps you should consider wheel spacers manufactured by Spidertrax and for around $250.00 per set of four.

JKS Wheel Spacers

These spacers are machined from solid T6-6160 aluminum and are turned on a precision CNC lathe. Measuring 1.25 inches wide, you can subtract that from the backspacing dimension of the wheel you intend to use them with to determine the new backspacing amount.

It should be noted that wheel spacers will not pass inspection in many states and that the manufacturer states on the disclaimer that the wheel spacers are intended for off-road use only!

JKS Wheel Spacers

We are installing the wheel spacers on our TJ. The spacers come in a 5x4.5 bolt pattern, which is the OE bolt pattern for most DaimlerChrysler Jeep vehicles, including all Wranglers, Cherokees, Comanches, Grand Cherokees, and Liberties.

One of the most popular uses for these wheel spacers is to fit 33x12.5R15 tires on Jeep Wrangler TJs that were equipped with "Gambler" or "Canyon" style wheels. These are deep wheels with 5.5 inch backspacing, which is almost certainly too much backspacing for a tire over 12 inches wide on a TJ (without trimming). Turning can be nearly impossible with the tires tucked in that close.

JKS Wheel Spacers

The wheel spacer essentially changes the backspacing of our "Canyon" rim equipped with a 32x11.5R15 tire to 4.25 inches, which suits our needs perfectly.

The wheel spacer is not mounted to the wheel first, as the picture shows. The spacer is bolted on to the vehicle first, since one would normally be installing wheels. This picture just gives an idea of the role the spacer plays behind the wheel.

JKS Wheel Spacers

Our TJ is currently equipped with 32x10.5R15 tires on stock steel rims with the appropriate amount of lift. While the wheel spacers are not necessary with this configuration, we will be installing them anyway to show their effectiveness.

The TJ pictured here is our "before" picture.

JKS Wheel Spacers

The wheel spacer bolts on nicely over the rotor on the front axle. The lug wrench that was used to take the lug nuts off did not fit in the cylindrical holes that are used to bolt the wheel spacer up to the axle using the low profile lug nuts provided with the kit. A 3/4 inch shallow socket, an extension and a breaker bar worked nicely.

It will be difficult to keep the axle from turning when installing the spacers unless the differentials are completely locked. Be careful not to damage the threads if you need to hold the axle by the studs to tighten the spacers.

JKS Wheel Spacers

On a TJ, this is one of the most problematic areas regarding rubbing. The rear fenders are spacious enough to nest tires of a large diameter, although they are not very deep. A 10.50" wide tire on 15x7" rims with proper trac bar orientation comes less than half an inch from rubbing the top of the rear coil spring perch on the drivers side.

Shown here is the comfortable amount of space the tire has after the wheel spacer was installed.

JKS Wheel Spacers

Pictured here is our TJ with 1.25" wheel spacers installed behind each wheel. You can compare it with the "before" picture and see the difference, albeit a subtle difference.

Recently, I had the chance to see a TJ with 33" tires that had 33x12.5R15 tires installed on stock "Gambler" style rims with spacers like these and the difference was evident and the stance seemed optimal. The tires only extended a couple inches beyond the stock fender flares.

JKS Wheel Spacers

This is a cast aluminum wheel spacer from another manufacturer. We do not recommend you use a cast spacer like this on any vehicle, especially a trail rig! And you think the Dana 35 is prone to breaking!

One good way to use a cast aluminum style spacer like this is as a spare tire relocator on a tailgate... or as a paper weight or a cup holder.

JKS Wheel Spacers

A popular debate is whether or not wheel spacers are safe. If one would fail, it could put a vehicle and its passengers in a very unsafe situation. There are some shops and organizations that won't even touch them for fear of being liable.

On the other hand, high quality spacers like these are being used by many four wheelers without problems and with increasing popularity. The Spidertrax wheel spacers from JKS are very strong and they are designed to take the kind of abuse that rockcrawling has to dish out. They are also successfully being used on some ARCA competitors' rigs.


RESOURCE
Spidertrax Inc.
7510 Hygiene Road
Longmont, CO 80503
Phone: (800) 286-0898
Email: tech@spidertrax.com
www.spidertrax.com

 

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