Wheel Spacers ..... yes or no

Wheel Spacers ..... yes or no

Postby Woodweasel [OP] » December 13th 2009, 5:52pm

I have a 99 Utility. When I got it, the guy I bought it from had some rims with the 60's -70's Chevy 5 lug pattern. Well those dont fit an Astro, so he had some billet alum spacers made. He said they made them as thin as possible but they are still 1 1/4". I like the look of the rims and tires out closer to the edge of the fender so I slapped on my extra set of Ralleys that came off a 70 El Camino. It corners like its on rails! 225/60/15 on the rear, 205/60/15 up front. My concern is... will the spacers through off the geometry of the front end? Will this cause premature wear on any of my sus.? I just had all the ball joints replaced about a month ago, left upper ball joint let loose.

So even though I like the look, if its going to tear up the front end their gone.
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Re: Wheel Spacers ..... yes or no

Postby evil_motors » December 13th 2009, 6:31pm

i really dont think it will do anything to your suspension. especially being that thin. the only problems i have seen are when the tuners started "skateboarding" their cars that did a number on wheel bearings. but i think in your case it will be ok. and i love the look you have now with those rims and tires.
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Re: Wheel Spacers ..... yes or no

Postby astro355 » December 14th 2009, 2:10am

As you already noticed, the van handles great because the wheel base has been effectively widened. But yes, spacers that are 3/8" thick can ruin suspension parts such as ball joints and wheel bearings. Spacers that are 1 1/4" thick are pretty thick and greatly increase the wear and stress put on the wheel bearings and ball joints, especially when turning. I do like how your van sits but its coming at a price.
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Re: Wheel Spacers ..... yes or no

Postby tedanderson » December 14th 2009, 4:18am

I love those wheels and I like that look! Replacing ball joints couldn't be THAT hard, could it? But if this setup could do damage to the rear end, I might think twice about it.
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Re: Wheel Spacers ..... yes or no

Postby astro355 » December 14th 2009, 6:01am

tedanderson wrote:I love those wheels and I like that look! Replacing ball joints couldn't be THAT hard, could it? But if this setup could do damage to the rear end, I might think twice about it.


It can be but that's not the point. Worn ball joints will cause steering issues, unevenly wear your tires and even decrease your fuel mileage. Or if total failure happens, you crash. Maybe if you use the Moog problem solver ball joints, you may be able to put off the inevitable. :confused:
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Re: Wheel Spacers ..... yes or no

Postby astroturf » December 14th 2009, 6:10am

OK, Big question here. What's the difference between a good quality wheel spacer and a rim with the same offset/back spacing as the spacer produces? Jim
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Re: Wheel Spacers ..... yes or no

Postby astro355 » December 14th 2009, 10:07am

astroturf wrote:OK, Big question here. What's the difference between a good quality wheel spacer and a rim with the same offset/back spacing as the spacer produces? Jim


There isn't. Changing the offset of a wheel to equal the offset of a wheel spacer puts just as much strain on the suspension parts. The rearend isn't a problem here since the rear wheels don't turn. When you lengthen the distance between the pivot point (ball joints/wheel bearings) and the contact point with the road (wheels), you increase the amount of stress on the joints, period. Its the same principal that makes the 10 bolt rearend weak in relationship to the pinion gear and ring gear.

Like I said before, I like the OP's stance. Its just going to cost him in suspension parts.
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Re: Wheel Spacers ..... yes or no

Postby astroturf » December 14th 2009, 1:24pm

astro355 wrote:
astroturf wrote:OK, Big question here. What's the difference between a good quality wheel spacer and a rim with the same offset/back spacing as the spacer produces? Jim


There isn't. Changing the offset of a wheel to equal the offset of a wheel spacer puts just as much strain on the suspension parts. The rearend isn't a problem here since the rear wheels don't turn. When you lengthen the distance between the pivot point (ball joints/wheel bearings) and the contact point with the road (wheels), you increase the amount of stress on the joints, period. Its the same principal that makes the 10 bolt rearend weak in relationship to the pinion gear and ring gear.

Like I said before, I like the OP's stance. Its just going to cost him in suspension parts.


Well said. So in essence it's no different than buying a set of rims to achieve the same effect. But, I would add and stress that it must be "a quality spacer". We should probably point out while we are on the topic of stress that anything larger than the original spec size, whether tire or rim also adds stress to the ball joints/bearings/etc... Jim
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Re: Wheel Spacers ..... yes or no

Postby Woodweasel [OP] » December 14th 2009, 5:09pm

Thanks Guys !! After I replaced the ball joints, I started thinking about those spacers and if they were the culprit. Well I guess its time to get a couple aftermarket Ralleys with the Astro lug pattern and throw em on the front. I really dont want to replace ball joints every couple years and have to worry about the steering and other suspension parts getting premature wear. Luckily I was only doing about 30 when the upper ball joint let go, Id hate to be doing 70mph on the San Diego Frwy. and have another one let go, not a good thing.
As usual..... Thank you! It always helps to get several opinions.
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Re: Wheel Spacers ..... yes or no

Postby astroturf » December 14th 2009, 9:24pm

Woodweasel wrote:Thanks Guys !! After I replaced the ball joints, I started thinking about those spacers and if they were the culprit. Well I guess its time to get a couple aftermarket Ralleys with the Astro lug pattern and throw em on the front. I really dont want to replace ball joints every couple years and have to worry about the steering and other suspension parts getting premature wear. Luckily I was only doing about 30 when the upper ball joint let go, Id hate to be doing 70mph on the San Diego Frwy. and have another one let go, not a good thing.
As usual..... Thank you! It always helps to get several opinions.


What size rim will you get? Besides the stock lug pattern, ie: diameter, width, offset, and back spacing? Jim
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Re: Wheel Spacers ..... yes or no

Postby Mr_Bowtie » December 14th 2009, 10:26pm

You can find 5x5 bolt pattern Chevy Ralley rims used that will bolt right on. They came on 2wd trucks in the 80's. They come in 15x7 or 15x8. I have run spacers in the past without any problems. :shrug:
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Re: Wheel Spacers ..... yes or no

Postby Woodweasel [OP] » December 15th 2009, 4:31pm

What size rim will you get? Besides the stock lug pattern, ie: diameter, width, offset, and back spacing? Jim[/quote]


Jim, I'm going to try and find the same thing I have now, which I believe are 15X7, but they might be 15X8". I have no idea what the offset or backspacing is. What I have now are original 1970 SS El Camino Rallys so they would have the factory offset and backspacing.
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Re: Wheel Spacers ..... yes or no

Postby Woodweasel [OP] » December 15th 2009, 4:37pm

Mr_Bowtie wrote:You can find 5x5 bolt pattern Chevy Ralley rims used that will bolt right on. They came on 2wd trucks in the 80's. They come in 15x7 or 15x8. I have run spacers in the past without any problems. :shrug:



Did you run spacers on an Astro? How thick were they if you remember? My Ralleys are the 60's-70's style. the 80's rims are not "Old School" enough for me. I think some aftermarket, universal lug Ralleys is what I am going to do. Not happy about moving the rims and tires back into the fender well, but then wont know what it's gonna look like till I get em on. Think I'll leave the spacers on the rear, no problems with throwing off the geometry back there.
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Re: Wheel Spacers ..... yes or no

Postby Woodweasel [OP] » December 15th 2009, 4:58pm

Was talking to my Dad about the front end. Pop's is (was) an Mech. Engineer. He always told me to think your problem out starting with just the basic, simplest function of the part. Well we came to the conclusion that the spindle is nothing more than a lever, with the ball joint as the pivot point. What do they say about levers?......If you have a long enough lever, you can move the earth. Well if I move my rim out 1 1/4" I just made my lever longer, putting more load on the pivot point. Pop didnt think the steering linkage would be effected since it is separate from the lever action of the suspension. Only when a ball joint lets go do you have steering linkage getting into the picture.
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Re: Wheel Spacers ..... yes or no

Postby GaryZ » December 15th 2009, 5:51pm

Woodweasel wrote:Was talking to my Dad about the front end. Pop's is (was) an Mech. Engineer. He always told me to think your problem out starting with just the basic, simplest function of the part. Well we came to the conclusion that the spindle is nothing more than a lever, with the ball joint as the pivot point. What do they say about levers?......If you have a long enough lever, you can move the earth. Well if I move my rim out 1 1/4" I just made my lever longer, putting more load on the pivot point. Pop didnt think the steering linkage would be effected since it is separate from the lever action of the suspension. Only when a ball joint lets go do you have steering linkage getting into the picture.


I agree with this logic and I have heard the same from car guys over the years. Moving the load outboard (spacers or offset wheels) adds stress on the ball joints and wheel bearings. I would suggest that the amount of stress depends on the application. Normal driving to and from work would likely cause insignificant wear. Carrying lots of weight and running auto-cross would probably be a different story. I am willing to live with the added wear to get the look . . .
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Re: Wheel Spacers ..... yes or no

Postby astro355 » December 15th 2009, 11:21pm

But in your lever statement, you are forgeting about the wheel bearings. The wheel bearings will take the brunt of the stress. Take that lever you are talking about cut it in half and then bolt the two pieces together, that's your new lever.
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Re: Wheel Spacers ..... yes or no

Postby Mr_Bowtie » December 16th 2009, 3:19am

Woodweasel wrote:
Mr_Bowtie wrote:You can find 5x5 bolt pattern Chevy Ralley rims used that will bolt right on. They came on 2wd trucks in the 80's. They come in 15x7 or 15x8. I have run spacers in the past without any problems. :shrug:



Did you run spacers on an Astro? How thick were they if you remember? My Ralleys are the 60's-70's style. the 80's rims are not "Old School" enough for me. I think some aftermarket, universal lug Ralleys is what I am going to do. Not happy about moving the rims and tires back into the fender well, but then wont know what it's gonna look like till I get em on. Think I'll leave the spacers on the rear, no problems with throwing off the geometry back there.


No never on an Astro. I ran spacers on a newer vehicle.....Crown Victoria. :mrgreen:
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