The Difference 15mm Can Make

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Saturday 5th March 2016

After the success of putting the lowering springs on our i3, we started thinking about wheel spacers, then the bad weather arrived and we put that thought to one side for a couple of months. But now the weather is mostly getting better, we started to think about them again.

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15mm Wheel Spacers and 43mm bolts

Wheel spacers are disks placed between the wheel and the hub to push the wheel out a little. They can look a bit silly when too big but when done just right, they give the car a broader stance filling the wheel arch looking good and improving handling. Getting the right thickness led me to asking a couple of questions about sizes of spacers to some owners that had already fitted them. Within a couple of hours of the response the spacers and bolts were ordered and we sat back and waited for them to be delivered.

We chose to go with 15mm spaces on all four wheels and we got 43mm bolts for the wheels to compensate for the extra reach.

We didn’t have long to wait, they were ordered on Wednesday 24th February and they were here in two days, on Friday 26th, so we knew what we would be doing on the coming Sunday.

Sunday arrived and my sidekick said that this was going to be an easy job to do, did that mean he expected me to do it?!! I’m not sure about that, won’t my hands get dirty?! Anyway, apparently I wasn’t expected to do it – phew!! I was just being told it was an easy job.

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43mm bolts
Installed
Spacer on hub
With
With
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Without

So – with the spacers and bolts unpacked, it was time to head outside. First task was to jack the car up on one side and remove the wheels. Oh no! My lovely lowering springs are all grubby from the winter weather – should I clean them?  Apparently not as when I turned around the spacers were on and being aligned with the bolt holes and the wheels were already being put back on. Then the new longer bolts were put in and tightened a little; the car was lowered and the bolts tightened up so the wheels don’t fall off – because that might be a problem! And – Viola! That’s one side done. Now repeat on the other side. I didn’t get to clean the springs on the other side ether. It did indeed turn out to be a simple job! Maybe I could have done it – maybe, hmm maybe not! Turns out that when asked to release the jack on the back whilst my sidekick lowered the front, I couldn’t even get the jack to lower slowly – Oops!

Wow – the car does look different, it’s not a huge difference just a subtle difference but a really good difference.

Next up was the test drive. Oh my goodness, what a difference. You can feel that the car is sat more firmly on the road, it feels more squatted, like there really is a wheel on all four corners. Because, you know, it really didn’t feel like that before. With the lowering springs and now the wheel spacers on it has made a real difference to the i3. A really good difference – I like it – A lot.

My sidekick will now write his little piece as I had to get out of the car for this. I got stuck in the car for one turn but not again – no way.

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Results recorded on my iPhone

So, it’s not just vanity that drove us to add the wheel spacers but, they do look good! The extra 30mm of track has again lowered the center of gravity. To test it, I pulled out my test kit and headed to open flat tarmac.

The results speak well of the i3’s tires and suspension setup, the result was a healthy 0.91G of lateral acceleration, on a warmer day, Edmunds managed 0.78G by comparison.

Safety first

What dos that mean? Well, they say that the best way to survive an accident is to avoid getting into one in the first place. The extra lateral grip means that our i3 can now corner faster than almost any 70’s super car and comes close to a modern day Porsche 911 – only 0.04G short and, on super-efficient wheels and tires.

Thanks to Shaun Wooten, Marcus Pugh and the i3 community for their recommendations and help on selecting the perfect solution.

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