Ready to install the winter or summer tires on your car?
If you are planning to change your seasonal tires at home by yourself, you need to know a thing or two before you start, so your DIY project that you've been planning doesn't become a nightmare. If you're not sure about something, call a professional Seasonal Tire Change Service to come and install your seasonal tires at home.
- Warm up! First of all, WARM UP! Seriously... warm up as you were starting a workout at the gym. Your back and legs will hurt and you will be stiff for a while, as you will be up and down, lifting wheels, floor jacks, and you will be at times in very uncomfortable positions. You don't want to hurt yourself.
- Protective gear. Make sure you will be wearing protective glasses, gloves and that you have a soft pad to sit your butt or knees on the floor. A facemask is also required when you clean your wheel hubs of rust and debris, so you don't breathe that stuff.
- Tools and materials needed for your seasonal tire change. You'll need:
- a solid floor jack (inspect it before use),
- impact wrench (don't even think using a manual wrench: it takes too long and on some cars, the lug nut / lug bolt torque is very high and you'll end up stripping or breaking your lug nuts or bolts)
- rubber mallet
- manual torque wrench
- wire brush
- anti-seize copper or nickel base paste
- your seasonal tires (summer or winter tires on-rim)
- wheel anti-theft socket (if you have anti-theft wheel locks on your car)
- tire chalk or marker
Inspect the condition of the set of seasonal tires on-rim you want to install for nails, screws, cuts, sidewall bubbles or valve stem leaks. Make sure that they are in good condition before you install them on your vehicle and torque your wheel lug nuts or bolts. Place them near the side of the vehicle where you want to install them, on the ground. If they've been sitting in your garage, storage, or shed for a long time, inflate them first and then spray them with water and dish soap mix to make sure they are not leaking around the rim, or elsewhere. It's gonna be a pain in the butt to install your tires, get everything ready and them remove them because something is wrong. Fix everything that's gotta be fixed before you install the tires on your car.
Make sure the emergency brake is on! Before you jack-up the car, activate the emergency brake on your car, for safety reasons ( you don't want the car to move at all when you're working on it). The vehicle should also be placed on a flat, hard, non-slippery surface, not on steep driveway or hill. As an added precautionary measure, use wheel chokes.
Jack the car. Always jack the car on the jacking points recommended by the manufacturer in the owner's manual. If your vehicle is old and the jacking points are very rusty or don't seem to be able to support the weight of your vehicle, don't guess, and have the work done by someone with experience. The last thing you want is the car to come down on you while you work! Once the car is jacked, place the jackstand in a safe location, and lower your floor jack enough for the car to rest on the jackstand, and not on your hydraulic floor jack, but leave them both on, supporting the car.
Remove the lug nuts or the lug bolts with your impact wrench. When you do this, make sure that your impact wrench and its socket are perfectly perpendicular on the lug nut or bolt you are removing to avoid stripping it or seizing it. Watch the rotation! Many times, people don't check the rotation on their impact wrench and start tightening instead of removing the lug nuts or bolts. In this case, you can seize the lug nut or bolt, break the stud or strip the hex head, resulting in costly repairs or service.
Remove the wheel and mark it with tire chalk. Once the wheel is removed, make sure you mark it with tire chalk (RF-Right Front, RR Right-Rear, LF-Left Front, LR Left Rear) so you know when you put them back on your car, to rotate them. Clean all debris and rust (using the wire brush) from the wheel hub and the contact surface on the interior side of the rim of the new wheel you want installed, and apply some anti-seize paste where they make contact (around the hub bore, around the studs (but not on thread). Make sure you don't scrub the discs!
Install the wheel (make sure that if the new wheel needs different lug nuts or bolts, plastic spacer rings, or maybe spacer metal rings, you have them properly installed) and torque the lug nuts or bolts to the manufacturer's recommended specs, with the manual torque wrench.
Repeat the steps above for the rest of the wheels.
Once the car is on the ground with the new set of wheels on, check the tire pressure and adjust per OEM. Reset your TPMS if needed.
If you don't know where to find the lug nut torque for your car, here is a quick list of lug nut / lug bolt torque charts for most of the cars, available on our blog.
List of lug nut and wheel bolt torque specs by vehicle.
- Alfa Romeo
- Aston Martin
- Land Rover
- Mercedes Benz
- Rolls Royce