Just a few millimetres more create a visible effect: a broader track gives the car a completely new look. Its shape is powerful, sturdy with added stability. Read below everything on track widening!
Track widening is more than just a change of appearance. The driving quality changes as well. Nevertheless, several issues need to be observed when widening the track and there are a few disadvantages.
Cheap tuning done quickly
The positive side of track widening is the maximum effect created with comparatively little intervention. Principally, widening the track is just as simple as changing wheels.
The work steps are very similar. The installation of a complete wheel spacer set only takes fifteen minutes. Nevertheless, this conversion should be performed carefully, requires concentration as well as the right tools.
Mind the legal aspect
The wider the better? Not quite. The wheel arch is the limit. To be very precise: the maximum allowed track width ends 5 mm from the fender. This has all to do with safety: a rotating wheel sticking out works like a sling when catching a pedestrian or cyclist. A passer-by caught by the wheel would be pulled under the car by the rotation and the rear side of a rotating wheel touching a passer-by could fling him the air. Therefore track widening is subject to a legal limit.
In addition to the rule of thumb: “5 mm from the fender is the maximum track width” another important legal aspect requires attention: only tested and approved wheel spacer sets can be used. Constructing your own spacer discs on a lathe is not allowed.
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What does a wheel spacer set include?
The main parts in a wheel spacer set are circular spacer discs with nine drilled holes. The disc is inserted over the wheel bearing by the large hole in the centre. The ring of 8 holes are either thread holes or clearance holes. The spacer disc is attached to the wheelhub with the supplied bolts. Subsequently, the wheel is screwed on through the thread holes – done.
The thickness of the disc determines the added distance.
Advantages and disadvantages of track widening
Track widening has the following advantages:
– improved track stability, especially in curves.
– better look
The improved performance in the curve occurs as a result of the enlarged support surface of the vehicle. The contact points with the ground stand wider apart, creating better stability, and keeping the car on track. Even if it is only a few millimeters, you will notice the difference right away
Especially effective is the altered appearance when the track widening is combined with broad tyres and low-profile rims. Large rims with broad tyres standing wider apart give the car an explicit powerful and sturdy look.
The disadvantage of a track widening is the toll it takes on the entire steering mechanism due to the enhanced levering effect, speeding up the wear of all components. Especially steering knuckles, tie rods and stabiliser rods suffer under the conversion. Enhanced wear as a result of track widening has been noticed on the drive shaft as well. The fancy look comes at a price of a reduced life span of these parts.
Track widening – step by step
To install wheel spacers you need:
1 wheel wrench or nut wrench for 1” nut
1. Loosen bolts and nuts
- Start by switching off the engine, pulling the hand brake and removing the key.
- Now the wheel bolts can be loosened. The wheel bolts are best loosened when the car is still standing on the ground. This prevents the tyres from rotating during unscrewing.
2. Jacking up the car
- If no car lift is available, a vehicle jack stand will do. It is important to place the jack stand at the corresponding points on the car body. A wrongly placed car jack can lead to serious chassis damage, turning the car into a total loss.
- When working on a car, never rely on jack stands alone. At first, the jacked up car must be secured against rolling away, ideally with wheel wedges.
TIP: the accessory trade provides wheel wedges with integrated first-aid kits and warning triangle. With this solution you are best set for all eventualities with the car.
- Preferably, the car is placed on a professional car stand. These cheap, but safe components ensure secure and stable positioning of the car. A car stand has a bigger standing surface than a car jack, allowing hours of work under the car, if necessary.
3. Removing the wheels
- The wheel on which the spacer is to be installed, can now quickly be removed as the bolts have been loosened previously.
4. Installing the wheel spacer
- The wheel spacer is to be installed according to the installation manual. The bolts are fastened with the torque indicated in the manual.
CAREFUL: ALWAYS tighten bolts crosswise.
5. Re-install the wheel
- Now the wheel is installed and tightened with the prescribed torque.
MOT inspection after installation
A track widening should be registered. MOT checks correct installation, the allowed dimensions and the manufacturer of the wheel spacers.
Therefore always be sure to have the Vehicle Type Approval ready at hand.
An unregistered track widening can cause a fine.
Not wide enough?
Track widening exceeding the fender limit as determined in the factory is possible, although this requires alteration of the bodywork. The “minor” adaptation involves bending or “flanging” the wheel arches.
This must be done in a specialised car body workshop. Flanging the wheel arch might look easy, but a lot that can go wrong: the bodywork might warp unevenly and damage could be caused to the paintwork. A car body workshop asks EUR 150 – 400 (± £130 -£350) for flanging all four wheel arches.
Be certain to check this conversion with MOT. Otherwise you might end up paying a lot of money for a crooked car.
Adding to track widening requires widening of the bodywork, which involves extensive riveting and welding. A DIY’er might soon reach his technical limits. Regardless of all this, extending the track widening might prove increasingly difficult to legalise.
Therefore, those hard measures involving riveted and welded track widening are mainly reserved for rally cars.
Foto: Novikov Nikolay, Joel Hallberg, DR-images, paultarasenko, New Africa, OPgrapher, Happy cake Happy cafe, Kaikoro / shutterstock.com