If you want a rugged compact SUV that can tackle off-road and look good while doing that, then you might have bought yourself a Nissan Xterra. Nissan’s foray into the compact crossover market is different than its competitors in its roots – it’s based on a body on frame architecture. What does that mean? Well, it means that it’s a real SUV and not some soft-roader.
Real SUVs are often used for serious off-road driving, especially for models with has the four-wheel-drive system. If you have one of that models and want even better off-road ability, you might consider wheel spacers, together with a leveling kit. As a matter of fact, if you plan on lifting your vehicle, wheel spacers are a must. Installing them both means that your Xterra will not lose its suspension geometry. But, there are some other benefits of wheel spacers and we will try to break them down for you.
Why do you need a wheel spacer?
The Nissan Xterra is certainly not one of the best-looking vehicles around, but its rugger appearance can still catch some souls. Now, imagine how much better will it look with the wheels pushed a bit more outward? The whole vehicle will look much more muscular and sporty, with better stance. If those kind of looks are something you wish, wheel spacers are an inexpensive way to do that.
They bring some other benefits as well. For SUV vehicles, they can be use together with a leveling kit for improved off-road performance. They can be used by themselves to improve handling and stability, something that some may find the Xterra lacks. Wheel spacers can be used when you want to install bigger brakes as well because they open more space between the hub and the wheel. Wheel spacers can also be used if you want to install bigger aftermarket wheels for the same reason.
What kind of wheel spacers do you need for the Xterra?
The Nissan Xterra’s ground clearance is bigger than most crossovers in its class. This really helps when you want to install wheel spacers, because you can be sure that the wheels won’t touch the body of the vehicle. However, don’t go overboard with the wheel spacers – they may not only look funny, but then can hamper the geometry of the suspension of your Xterra.
If you want to know how far you can go, you can use washers on the lug studs. They are very inexpensive and can be reused on every wheel. Suffice to say, don’t use them as wheel spacers, but only for trying if the rims and tires will fit with the desired width. One other important thing to note – if you install wheel spacers bigger than 5mm, always use longer lug studs.
Other than that, we recommend installing hubcentric wheel spacers. These are a much better fit for every vehicle and can improve the drivability of the Xterra. With the hubcentric wheel spacers you will feel no difference in terms of vibrations when driving. Normal wheel spacers on the other hand can introduce vibrations to the steering wheel and they can even be felt into the cabin. Normal wheel spacers also put the weight of the vehicle on the bolts, while the hubcentric ones take it by themselves.
How to install wheel spacers on the Nissan Xterra?
Installing wheel spacers is as easy as changing a tire. That said, it’s best to do that in a garage and with the appropriate equipment, like jacks and jack stands.
- Use the parking brake so the vehicle doesn’t move and loosen the lug nuts on the wheels
- Jack up the side of the vehicle you’re working on and use jack stands for bigger safety
- Completely unscrew the lug nuts and then remove the wheel
- Install the wheel spacers directly on the hub (optionally, you can use anti seize on the wheel studs)
- Tighten the lug nuts of the wheel spacer in a star pattern
- Put the wheel back on the hub and tighten the lug nuts. Retighten after you’ve lowered the vehicle
- Drive several miles so you can be sure that the wheel spacers are a good fit. After around 100 miles driven, it’s best to retighten the lug nuts again