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Custom Wheels and Stanced Cars

Jesse McGraw

People love to fit their cars with a nice set of wheels, but there are those that go to the extreme and end up with stanced cars.

An Investment and a Trend

2016 BMW 435i - stancenation.com
2016 BMW 435i - stancenation.com

When you first get a car, you’re filled with tons of different ideas on what you want to add to it. Window tint, aftermarket performance parts, those gimmick car accessories from Amazon, some nice stickers, but the best investment is adding a nice set of wheels. Your OEM wheels from the dealership will do their job, but there’s so many better options out there in both performance and design when it comes to wheels. And, like I said, these new wheels are an investment. Not only can new wheels help the value of your car on the resale market, but you can even swap back the old stock ones and keep the nice wheels for another car (as long as the bolt pattern and size work that is).

So, what else can you do to better compliment some fresh wheels? Nice new tires pair well or maybe even some fender flares to help frame them. Well, some in the car community have answered this question by turning their whip into a stanced car. I’m sure you’ve seen these overly low rides with their wheels basically facing the sky. Stanced cars are mostly for aesthetic and the act of doing this to your car is purely for looks. Some owners claim that it helps with performance, but that’s only to a certain degree (yes, that was a pun). So, let’s take a look at what actually creates a stanced car as well as the good, the bad, and the ugly that comes with doing this trend to a vehicle.

What is a Stanced Car?

Toyota 86 - stancenation.com
Toyota 86 - stancenation.com

A stanced car is a car that’s had a specific customization that drops the ride height and adds excessive negative camber to its wheels. This stance culture exists today thanks to the world of motorsports. If you look closely at some of the vehicles that participate in the Le Mans, Formula One, or Formula Drift, you’ll notice that the wheels have a slight angle to them. This is camber, the inward or outward angle of the wheels in relation to the front of the car. A little bit of negative camber for the wheels helps generate better cornering ability on corner heavy tracks like the Nürburgring Circuit, but too much and there’s less tire on the road hindering straight-line performance. These professional race cars also lower and stiffen their suspensions to help with aerodynamics and handling.

These racing aesthetics motivated tuners in Japan to improve upon their own cars with negative cambers and lowered ride heights. The awesome looking JDM stanced cars that came about became popularized through pop culture media like the Fast and Furious franchise and Initial D. People all over the world took to the idea of this racing inspired adjustment in an effort to make their cars unique. This one little tuning adjustment snowballed into the eccentric stanced car culture of today.

Why You Should Stance Your Car

Nissan Silvia S13 - stancenation.com
Nissan Silvia S13 - stancenation.com

Let’s look at the positive reasons to add negative camber. First, just a little bit of a camber adjustment can help in the turns like the race cars we mentioned above. If performance isn’t what you’re striving for, then stancing your car is one way to truly standout. You can never really have too much negative camber when it comes to having a stanced car, it all comes down to personal preference and engineering ingenuity.

Once you have a stanced car, you’re welcomed into an exclusive club of clean cars that match your new found style. Being a stance enthusiast, you have your very own full-fledged events like StanceNation, WekFest, and H2Oi, where hundreds of attendees bring their own stanced cars to show off and would love to talk to you about yours.

Why You Shouldn’t Stance Your Car

Nissan Silvia S15 - stancenation.com
Nissan Silvia S15 - stancenation.com

Alright, here’s why having a stanced car is a bad idea. I mean right away, at the angle some of these wheels are going, handling is thrown right out the window. Also, while driving a low car looks pretty slick, having to unclip your front bumper when encountering minor bumps in the road takes away from the driving experience. Then there’s the tire wear. Cambering wheels to the degree that stanced cars do creates uneven wear and it degrades the tires along the inside edge, but tires aren’t the only thing too much camber is going to damage.

Stanced cars experience earlier ball joint failure, suspension issues, and the wheels themselves experience stress fractures from their odd driving angle (but that can stem from the wheels’ build quality too). If all you’re doing is hauling a stanced car to shows, then by all means go right ahead. However, if you plan on driving your stanced car a lot, be ready spend an unnecessary amount on maintenance and repairs.

Why Slammed Cars Are Terrible

Lexus LS400 - stancenation.com
Lexus LS400 - stancenation.com

When talking about stanced cars, the term “slammed” comes up quite a bit. A slammed car is one that’s lowered to a ludicrous amount with the wheels tucking under the wheel arches. Slammed cars aren’t all necessarily stanced, but a majority are. Don’t get me wrong, the slammed design is super clean when parked, but the clearance is just millimeters off the ground (or none at all). I’ve seen more embarrassing examples of slammed cars driving than impressive ones.

There are instances where a slammed car is literally generating sparks from dragging on the ground (although, sometimes on purpose), the car busts their oil pan off a minor crack in the road, the bumpers are torn off by a slight incline, and, my personal favorite, slammed cars getting high centered on basically nothing with people trying to push it like they’re stuck in snow. If you’re dead set on setting up a slammed car, do yourself a favor and add an airbag suspension so you can at least drive the thing.

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Jesse McGraw
Jesse McGraw

Jesse's life-long car obsession began when he started collecting Hot Wheels as a child. He’s constantly keeping up with the latest car news and diving deep into automotive history. His automotive journey began with a rusty ‘99 Dodge Dakota held together by zip ties, only recently replaced by an impeccable 2014 Kia Soul. You can find him modifying and racing cars in video games when he’s not playing paintball or writing about cars.

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