Before the start of the millennium, full-size pickup trucks were only made by American companies like Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, and GMC. That is until Toyota launched the Tundra – the first-ever full-size pickup from Japan. It’s safe to say that the Tundra has been a success, which was to be expected if you know that Toyota pickups are the most popular in almost every country in the world other than Canada and USA.
The Tundra still offers reliable mechanics, very good towing and hauling capabilities and decent off-road ability, but in recent years, it fell behind its newer American rivals. That said, thanks to its ruggedness and especially the TRD Pro off-road version, the Tundra still has a big following in the US. Here we will tell you how to change the appearance of the cheaper Tundra models with wheel spacers so that it looks like the desirable Tundra TRD Pro.
Why would I need wheel spacers on my Toyota Tundra?
Well, first and foremost, looks. The Tundra is a pretty muscular looking pickup by its own, but wheel spacers can make it stand out on the street thanks to the bigger wheel offset. Even if you install them with the stock wheels, the Tundra will look sportier thanks to the wider stance. And you don’t even need to go overboard!
That said, the Tundra will look even better with a new, bigger and meaner set of rims and tires. And for most sets of aftermarket rims and wider tires, you need wheel spacers so that the wheels can properly fit inside the wheel well, or in other words, to make sure that they’re not rubbing the fenders. There are wheel spacers that change the bolt pattern of the Tundra – in this case, they help you install wheels that you otherwise can’t.
Wheel spacers can be used with a leveling kit as well, which is especially popular in the Tundra world. Most aftermarket tuned vehicles have leveling kits for better off-road ability, and wheel spacers that will keep the geometry of the suspension intact and keep the handling characteristics.
While we are at that, the wheel spacers can improve the handling of the Tundra on the road, which is very desirable for owners, because the Japanese full-size truck is not the most agile in the corners. You’ll experience more grip as well, but we talk only small improvements here.
On the other hand, wheel spacers change the suspension geometry, toe characteristics and induce more tire wear. You might experience more vibration during driving, but only if you install lug-centric wheel spacers. Hub-centric wheel spacers don’t have that problem.
What are hub-centric wheel spacers?
The hub-centric wheel spacers carry all the weight of the Tundra on themselves, thus limiting vibration. This means that they will be a longer lasting solution when compared to lug-centric spacers, which put all the weight of the Tundra only on the bolts. It sounds scary and it can be. If you don’t want a vehicle falling off the Tundra while driving, install hub-centric wheel spacers.
When looking for hub-centric wheel spacers you may be presented with hub-centric rings. These don’t change the track of your Tundra, or in other words, don’t push the wheels outward. Their only purpose is to perfectly center aftermarket wheels, which usually have larger hub rings so they can be installed on various different models.
How to install wheel spacers on the Toyota Tundra?
The process is very easy, akin to changing a wheel on your vehicle. That said, the Tundra is heavy and you’ll need a bigger jack, a couple of jack stands and the proper tools and equipment. You may need another person to press the brakes (so that the hub doesn’t turn), but you can engage the Tundra in gear or use the parking brake.
- Jack up the Tundra (always use the designated jack points)
- Remove the wheels and remove the retainer clips
- Install the wheel spacers on the wheel hub with the provided lug nuts (it’s here when you need another person applying the brakes) with a torque wrench (75-85 lb-ft)
- Put the wheels back on the vehicle
- Tighten the lug nuts or bolts using a torque wrench according to factory specification
- After the process, it’s best to drive the vehicle for around 50 miles and re-check the lug nuts on the wheel spacers. If they move, repeat the process.