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      02-15-2009, 12:02 PM   #1
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Drives: bmw m3
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Toronto

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Offset and Spacers Questions


I have just ordered my M3 sedan with 18” wheels that I intend to use for winter setup.
I would like to get 19” aftermarket wheels for summer and I have some questions that I hope you, more experienced M3 drivers can help me out with.
I would like to get the flush with wheel arches look but don’t want to compromise handling or safety in any way. I have noticed reading thru some of the threads that a lot of people are using spacers, 15mm front and 10mm rear to do this. By adding spacers obviously the offset is being changed and I am sure that BMW is using the OEM wheels with that particular offset for a good reason. I can maybe get the wheels the same size as OEM but smaller offset and than by adding spacers achieve the OEM wheels offset.
So, my question is, are the spacers affecting the handling or safety?
I have seen in one thread that somebody said that the wheel bearings will be destroyed sooner by using spacers, is this true?
Wouldn’t the same effect of wheels being flush with wheel arches be achieved by putting wider wheels and tires like 9.5” with 265/35 front and 10.5” with 285/35 rear and keeping the same offset, with the benefit of also having better grip (more rubber contact patch with the road)?
Would this setup have any rubbing issues on the inside or outside?
Please, help me make the right decision.
Thanks in advance.
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      02-15-2009, 01:38 PM   #2

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You have to figure this question out from the tires inward - start with the tires you want and pick wheels that work with both looks and offset. Spacers are fine and some are very well engineered, but in the long run if you can avoid them it's best.

The wheel bearings will take some extra load with a lower offset, but they're bigger on the M3 to start with - the fronts are shared with the E60 M5 for instance. I wouldn't worry about them surviving.

As for tires, the wider they are the better they are in the dry and the worse they are in the wet. But "worse" is a subjective term. I've run my 265 track tires on all four corners in the rain and it's not a problem. But if you run your tires down to the last 2/32" of tread and hit a puddle, you're going to be out of control for a while. Toronto doesn't get heavy summer downpours every second day, so wider tires are an option. Wider tires can also "tramline" a bit but I've never noticed it on my car. That's a tire choice issue and you have to spend some time on forums reading reviews to know which tires do it and which don't.

As for rubbing, you can run 265's up front on 9.5" rims with ET25 and they don't rub, at least mine don't. This setup is about 17mm further "out" and it fills the wheel well pretty nicely.

In the rear, can run a larger rim and tire there as well - 285's or 295's have both been talked about on this board - on a 10 or 10.5" rim. I don't know about offsets, though.

As for the look of "filling the wheelwell", look at the shape of the stock rims, either 18 or 19. They have a deep center that comes out to a nearly flat plane of spokes at the edge of the rim. Visually, it takes up the space and the fender well looks fuller than the wide-lipped rims that are also popular. It depends on the look you want. The polished lip rims look pretty good too.

If it were me, I'd spend some quality time on Tirerack's website sifting through tire and wheel combos that work. As for actually buying them, they're excellent to deal with, but you can't get all the brands, but at least you'll be educated and won't end up buying a combo that won't fit.
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