Can Wheel Spacers Cause Issue with Wheel Bearings?

Nad_Yvalhosert

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@Frank Enstein has it exactly right. The spacer basically becomes part of the wheel and the load is transferred from contact patch to the bearings through the hub. If the scrub radius i.e. contact patch is the same as OE, the leverage on the bearing is the same as OE. If the wheel is too far in you NEED the spacer to correct the stance. The use of the spacer does nothing adverse to the bearings.

A 6" spacer on a 6" offset wheel equals 0 offset.
And a zero offset wheel without a spacer, plants the tire in the exact same contact patch.
No bearing leverage difference at all.
 

Hipster

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A 6" spacer on a 6" offset wheel equals 0 offset.
And a zero offset wheel without a spacer, plants the tire in the exact same contact patch.
No bearing leverage difference at all.
Yes, but that's not what was done here. Here we have a different offset wheel than intended for the suspension with the sole purpose of the spacer used being to fit the wheel in there. I doesn't sound like much math was involved with the fitmet.
 

618 Syndicate

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@Frank Enstein has it exactly right. The spacer basically becomes part of the wheel and the load is transferred from contact patch to the bearings through the hub. If the scrub radius i.e. contact patch is the same as OE, the leverage on the bearing is the same as OE. If the wheel is too far in you NEED the spacer to correct the stance. The use of the spacer does nothing adverse to the bearings.

A 6" spacer on a 6" offset wheel equals 0 offset.
And a zero offset wheel without a spacer, plants the tire in the exact same contact patch.
No bearing leverage difference at all.
You're funny
Of course it is possible to come up with a scenario where spacers are part of the design, and the bearing is suited for the load, but that wasn't the question.
The answer to the question asked is yes, spacers can cause issues with wheel bearings. Unlikely that is the cause of the bearing failure, but possibly a contributing factor.
Have a great day
 

Stumpy

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I think everybody is so focused on the spacer, the fact that wheel bearings were changed, at the time of install is being overlooked. A 1 inch spacer, seems hardly enough to make a bearing fail, in 2000 miles. I'm more inclined to think the bearings weren't packed good enough during install, and over heated.
 

618 Syndicate

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I think everybody is so focused on the spacer, the fact that wheel bearings were changed, at the time of install is being overlooked. A 1 inch spacer, seems hardly enough to make a bearing fail, in 2000 miles. I'm more inclined to think the bearings weren't packed good enough during install, and over heated.
Agreed.
 

89obsSB

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I think everybody is so focused on the spacer, the fact that wheel bearings were changed, at the time of install is being overlooked. A 1 inch spacer, seems hardly enough to make a bearing fail, in 2000 miles. I'm more inclined to think the bearings weren't packed good enough during install, and over heated.
That could be the case. Or possibly any little Debris that were not cleaned out when the new bearings were packed and installed. Or could have been over tightened. A defective bearing. A cheap bearing. When it comes to bearings or steering parts I always prefer to use the best because of safety. Anything is possible in this situation.
 

jimdaug

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Wow, lots of traffic on this one. I forgot to turn on notifications.

I don't know what the stock scrub radius is, but here are the wheel fitment calculator numbers. They assume 0 scrub to start. The OEM tires/wheels are 235/75 R15 on 7" wide rim with 13mm offset. The Camaro wheels are 245/45 R20 on 8" rim with 35mm offset and a 25.4mm (1") spacer. So the calculator says the scrub radius is now 4mm from where it was which is about 1/8" so in my head that's a wash.

The way I understand it is really the hub shouldn't know the difference if the centerline of the wheel stays in the same place. I don't think the hub would care because basically the spacer is acting if it were welded to the back of the wheel (conceptually speaking).

On bearings, always put in a matched bearing and race whatever brand you use. If you want to run timken bearings put them on timken races, knock the chinesium races of questionable metallurgy out of the new rotor and put the one matched to your bearing in.

There can be dimensional differences in diameter and width of rollers from brand to brand so brand x races aren't always the correct specs for brand y bearings.

That's interesting you say that, because at the time I wasn't thinking about it and also didn't really have the means to get the races out of the new rotors, which were AC Delco for whatever that's worth. So yeah, I did put Timken bearings in on whatever races that were in there.

I bought React Suspension 2" modular drop spindles earlier this year and also found out my neighbor was a machinist for 20+ years and was looking for some work so I asked him if he could make a hybrid hub with the OBS bearing dimensions and a hub flange that ends up where the spacer was so it is just one solid hub. He was up for it so I had him make them out of some 4340 heat treated steel and I bought some CTS calipers and rotors which are the same as the Camaro, they just have the flying V on them. So now we just need to make a bracket for the caliper. Anyway, long story short, on the new hubs I pressed in the Timken races that came with the bearings.

My gut feeling out of the whole thing is that I probably overtightened the spindle nut and/or didn't have enough grease in the hub. I only packed the bearings and didn't add any more in the hub. A couple people I've talked too said it wouldn't hurt to put a little bit in the dust cap and on the spindle too, but not packing the whole hub full obviously.
 

someotherguy

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I've never jammed a bunch of grease inside the hub; I generally pack the bearings thoroughly and wipe an extra bit around them before dropping them in the races, and then wipe a coating of grease inside the hub and on the spindle just to be sure nothing is left bare metal that can get rusty before the grease gets heated up and distributed throughout the assembly.

Overtightening is a possibility but I'd think you would notice the resistance. I go by the practice of tightening the castle nut while spinning the rotor until it has noticeable drag, then back off 1 flat. I think also some people may not be knocking the seal all the way in, just flush with the end of the hub, and then it walks inwards during use and the result is the bearings are too loose. I use a bearing/race installer tool to carefully knock the seal all the way in until it bottoms in the hub. Many many hard miles on my previous trucks with no wheel bearing failures after I've been in there.

It seems like decades ago I bought my Lisle #12600 set, in fact it was, I bought it to do races on my '61 Apache because those are still ball bearing - one year before tapered roller bearing hubs. You really have to get the ball bearing hubs right, because otherwise they will happily grind themselves down smaller and smaller until they simply fall out of their cages and the hub lets go. :D

Richard
 

Frank Enstein

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Yup! 4mm isn't anything to get excited about but the tire diameter figures in to scrub radius as well.

Generally unless your scrub radius is really wonky (like more than an inch from stock) you prolly wouldn't notice it at all.

I believe like you do that it was just an issue with the bearing install.

You don't need anything weird to get the races out. A hammer and a punch w/ some safety goggles and foul language will get the old ones out.

I do recommend a cheap bearing/seal installer for putting the new ones in with.

If you have a bunch of experience, you can beat them in with a brass punch and a hammer but the driver is tons easier and will make the installation go much smoother.

When you hear the tone of the hit change pitch they're all the way in.
 

jimdaug

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Someotherguy, that's almost exactly what I did except for wiping a little bit extra on the inside of the hub. Also a good tip on making sure the seal is all the way seated.

Frank Enstein, I've got punches and a bearing/seal driving set now. And a 20 ton press. All stuff that I didn't have last time around. And honestly knocking the races out of brand new rotors never crossed my mind at the time. I did bang the races out of another new one for my neighbor when he was measuring the rotor to make the new hubs and yes it was a punch and hammer and a lot of cussing.
 
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