How to Remove Lug Nuts and Tires
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If you have any interest in performing home mechanic work on your car, then you need to be able to remove lug nuts and tires. Removing lug nuts and tires is the foundation of automotive mechanic work; it’s the first thing you should learn, and necessary for so many automotive repair tasks. You’ll need to learn how to do this to replace a flat tire or rotate your tires (something that should be part of routine maintenance as details in your owner’s manual).
Removing lug nuts and tires is an essential part of basic automotive projects, like putting on a spare tire, or rotating your tires. It’s also a necessary part of more complex automotive tasks, like changing your brake pad or calipers. And thankfully, it’s incredibly easy, and you only need two tools: a lug nut wrench (also sometimes called a lug wrench) and a car jack.
In this article we’ll discuss safety basics, getting the lug nuts cracked, jacking up your car, removing the lug nuts, and removing the tire.
Step 1: Take Proper Safety Precautions
Anytime you perform a task on your vehicle, safety is the biggest concern. Cars can be very dangerous, but not just when they’re moving. A parked car still weighs 3-5,000 pounds, so you need to do everything necessary to make sure you have the proper safety precautions.
The biggest safety precaution is making sure your car is on flat ground, so it doesn’t risk rolling away while you’re working on it. Once it is parked, make sure that the parking brake is engaged, as added security. Finally, put some stops or blocks of wood on both sides of the tires that you will not be removing. This keeps your car firmly in place while you work.
Step 2: Remove the Hubcap if Applicable
In some cars, the hubcaps are fastened to the car by the lug nuts. If that’s the case, you’ll need to remove the hubcap after Step 5. However, if your hubcap is attached to your wheel with clips, you’ll need to remove them and the hubcap to get access to the lug nuts.
Step 3: Crack the Lug Nuts
While your car is still on the ground, you want to get the lug nut cracked. Cracking the lug nuts means loosening them slightly. You want to loosen the lug nuts when the car is on the ground, as that requires the most force. If you wait until the car is jacked up, your force might pull the car off the jack.
Use your lug nut wrench to loosen the nuts in a star pattern. That means that, if you imagine the five nuts as points on a star, do the first point, then the third, then the fifth, then the second, then the fourth.
Step 4: Jack Up the Car
Next, get the car in the air. Place the jack behind the wheel on a firm part of the car’s frame, and follow the jack instructions until the wheel is a few inches off the air. If you have them, you can also use jack stands.
Step 5: Remove the Lug Nuts
With the car in the air, give it a little nudge to make sure everything is secure. Then, unscrew the lug nuts fully, and remove them, once again following the star pattern. It can help to hold the tire in place with your knees or feet while you do this, to keep it from moving while you unscrew the lug nuts.
It’s possible that your lug nuts may be stuck or difficult to remove. If you have a stuck lug nut, gain extra leverage by using a breaker bar or use penetrating oil to loosen the lug nut. If you do end up using oil, it’s a good idea to thoroughly check and clean the car area before driving again to make sure it is clear of oil. Oil on any part of the break could prove dangerous while driving.
Step 6: Remove the Tire
Once the lug nuts have been removed, you can easily remove the tire. Simply pull it straight out, and it will come off easily. And just like that, you’ve got your lug nuts and tire removed!
When it comes time to put the tire and lug nuts back on, the process is very simple: just reverse your steps. With the car jacked up, put the wheel back on, then put the lug nuts on, but don’t screw them on all the way; just enough to hold them in place. Then remove the jack, tighten the lug nuts fully, and you’re ready to get your car back on the road.
If you want to get into basic car repair, don’t let lug nuts and tires scare you. Removing them is very easy, and will unlock a lot of home automotive projects that you can do.