Compact crossovers are all the craze today – they eat into the sales of compact vehicles, sedans, and wagons. One of the most popular compact crossovers out there is the Subaru Forester. There are several reasons for that, chiefly the symmetrical all-wheel-drive system that helps hugely in bad weather, like rain and snow, but also the comfortable and flexible interior, and the popular Subaru reliability.
The Forester is also praised for its handling capabilities and road holding, while it’s not exactly praised for its looks. Don’t worry, you can improve on both of them – better handling and sportier look on the outside, only with wheel spacers. These inexpensive car parts are often used in the tuning community, but they can have benefits for the everyday driver as well.
Why do you need a wheel spacer?
There are several benefits to wheel spacers that can make your Forester better to drive, and better to look at as well. See, the wheel spacers push the wheels outwards for a wider stance. The result is a more aggressive looking Forester, with wheels that are flush with the body. Wheel spacers can improve the looks of Forester greatly even with the stock wheels, but they work much better with aftermarket rims. In some cases, wheel spacers are a must, because wider rims may touch the wheel wells. Wheel spacers are often used to make bigger space inside the wheel, like for example if you want to install bigger brakes.
Wheel spacers are also a great choice if you want to improve the handling of the Forester. The gains will certainly not be very big, but the vehicle should still gain stability thanks to more grip and more uniform tire loading. On the other hand, wheel spacer might introduce reduced effective spring rate on the suspension, more tire wear, and less stability while braking. In some situations, wheel spacers may shorten the life of the bearings, especially if you go with very wide wheel spacers.
What kind of wheel spacers top buy for the Subaru Forester?
For the reasons stated above, it’s best to go with high-quality wheel spacers from a reputable manufacturer, made for Forester’s hub. Also, in order to limit the vibrations and strain on suspension components, we recommend installing hubcentric wheel spacers. With the hubcentric wheel spacers, they literally take the weight of the vehicle, while normal wheel spacers put the weight on the bolts. This not only introduces vibrations, but it can be dangerous while on the road.
After we’ve cleared that out, we recommend you not to go with very thick wheel spacers. If you go too wide, the wheels may touch the body of the Forester while driving over bumps, and there will be more strain on the suspension and bearings. The best way to measure how much thickness you need is to put washers on the lug nuts and then put the wheel to see how much outward it goes. Then, just add the thickness of all the washers and you’ll get the thickness of the wheel spacers.
How to install wheel spacers on the Subaru Forester?
The best thing about wheel spacers is how easy it’s to install them – almost everyone that knows how to change a wheel can do that. However, please note that you’ll need a jack, jack stands and the proper equipment for removing the wheels. It would also be great if you do all that in a garage, but any hard and level surface will do.
- Loosen the lug nuts of the wheel before you jack up the Forester. Use the parking brake so the vehicle doesn’t move while doing that
- Jack up the front or the rear of the vehicle – not both at the same time. Use jack stands for safety – don’t put the weight of the vehicle on the jack itself
- Completely unscrew the lug nuts and then remove the wheel completely
- Install the wheel spacers directly on the hub. Use anti-seize on the wheel studs (optional). If the wheel spacers are thicker (over 10mm) you may need longer bolts
- Tighten the lug nuts of the wheel spacer
- Put the wheel back on the hub and tighten the lug nuts. Lower the vehicle and tighten the nuts further
- Take the Forester for a test drive to see if the spacers are a proper fit
- Drive the vehicle around 100 miles and then retighten the lug nuts on the wheel spacer