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Wheel spacers can be used to give your wheels a more flush appearance with the fender, also they can be used to increase your track width. Also they give you more options in selecting wheel offsets. Those kind of things.
 
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Wheel spacers also play an important role in suspension geometry and brake caliper clearance. The hub and wheel are set in such a way that the weight of the car thrusts directly on the wheel bearings. If you change the rim and move the wheel a little bit one way or the other you change the angle of the load which can lead to premature bearing failure or even weird handling characteristics.
 

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Wheels spacers are used for improving the appearance by pushing the wheels out and correcting the offset if your purchased rims don't have the right offset for your car.
 
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