Recently I had a Cherokee XJ brought into me with some strange noises and even stranger handling, the ability for it to go in a straight line above 20mph was almost none existent without some serious sawing on the steering wheel! At first glance underneath nothing jumped out, the wheels did have a little bit of negative camber, but I have seen a lot worst. First point to check was the wheel hubs, but as soon as I removed the front wheels the true horror was apparent.
To push the stock wheels out to give clearance for the 31x10.50 tyres wheel spacers had been fitted, not normally a problem, if the they are the correct type and fitted correctly. But these particular spaces I have not seen fitted to vehicles since the late 70’s early 80’s. They use a screw on stud extension that is tightened onto the original hub / disc then a hollow cast spacer is slid over the extension studs and the wheels then fitted back on. They work, but are definitely not designed to be used for big tyre set-ups or off-road use.
In this instance they were dangerous, as they had not been fitted correctly, (the work had not been carried out by the current owner, he had only just taken possession of the Cherokee) as you can see from the photos the screw on extensions did not have a deep enough bore to allow them to be tighten on to the hub. So when the spacer plate was fitted it was floating, with the wheel fitted it pulled up against the hex section of stud extension so the whole loading was being placed on the five hexes, allowing the wheel to basically flex on the extension studs. This did not only cause the steering to wander, but put a lot of strain on the hubs and brakes as the discs were not clamped tight to the hubs, it caused excessive wear to the brake pads and discs which had to be changed. One hub survived the ordeal the the other was replaced.
New Rugged Ridge billet spacers were fitted. These are constructed of double anodized black extra thick 6061T6 Aluminium for long life and extra corrosion resistance. All hardware is grade 8 for extra strength. They include 10 pre-installed grade 8 wheel studs, 10 lug nuts and thread locker. So as you can see from the photos below not all wheel spacers are the same!