Wheels and Tires Mounting Guide

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Mounting new tires and rims at a shop, simple as it is, has been the cause of many horror stories, but this damage can be prevented by doing the work yourself. If you purchase a wheel and tire package, the first step is to have them checked for proper balance. Some companies advertise that they already come mounted and balanced; and you can take their word for it, or you can play it safe and get them balanced yourself. Read on to the rest of this quick step-by-step how-to for mounting wheels and tires yourself.

Step 1: Once you feel that your tires are balanced, the first step is to look at the tread formation of your tire. Tires can come in asymmetrical, directional, both, or neither. If you have an asymmetrical or directional design, you will need to pay attention to which wheels go where on the car. Directional tires will have “rotation” followed by an arrow, asymmetrical tires will have an inside and an outside of the tire, and if the tires are both asymmetrical and directional they will have both the arrow and the notation as to which side of the tire should be facing outward. Once you have established which tires go where, take each tire and lay it next to the corresponding corner of the car. It might seem like its oversimplifying things but it’s better to have things laid out in a logical order.

Step 2: The next step is to jack up the car and remove the current wheels/tires. Consult your owner’s manual on the proper lift procedure of your vehicle, and before actually lifting the car, take a wheel lug wrench and break each lugnut on each wheel loose. This will make it easier to remove them once the car is jacked up, but you do not want to do anymore than break them loose…once they budge, they’re loose enough. If you have broken all of the lugnuts loose, you can pick a wheel to start on and lift that corner of the car.

Step 3: Now that a corner is off the ground, you can remove the lugnuts for that wheel. If you remove the lugnuts and the wheel will not move, replace two non-adjoining lugnuts and hit the outer edge of the tire with the palm of your hand. In most cases, this will break them loose from the hub, then you can completely remove the wheel.

Step 4: With the wheel off, visually inspect the mounting surface of the hub. It should be free of any rust or debris, and if there is some rust to the hub surface, a wire brush should be used to clean the surface. Also, inspect each wheel stud for any damage to the threads.

Step 5: Next, take the new wheel/tire combo for that corner and slide it onto the hub. Some wheels require hub-centric rings for proper fitment, and that will generally be notated by the manufacturer or sales company. If the wheel easily fits onto the wheel studs, then begin tightening the lugnuts with your fingers. It is always best to get them “finger tight” before using a wrench to help prevent cross-threading and damage to the wheel, and while it might seem much quicker and easier to run them on with an impact gun or the lug wrench, replacing wheel studs can be a real headache.

Step 6: You have the wheel on with the lugnuts finger tight all around and now you’ll want to check for proper clearance around the braking system. If you bought your wheel/tire package specifically for your vehicle they should fit, but assuming and being wrong can be very dangerous. If it is a front wheel, you should be able to spin the wheel freely by hand. If there is ANY contact against the brake calipers your wheels do not fit properly and you should contact whoever sold them to you. If there is good clearance, you can move on to the next step.

Step 7: You will need a torque wrench to tighten them properly, fitted with the socket that fits your lugnuts. Check your owners manual for the torque specifications if not specified by the wheel manufacturer. Use the torque wrench to tighten each lugnut, moving “across” the bolt pattern after each one is tight. Go around in a star pattern three times to assure proper lugnut torque.

If you follow these simple steps for mounting your own wheels, it is a quick and painless job that can save you a few dollars and prevent an accident at the hands of a shop employee who may not be as careful with your car as you can be.

What do you say guys? Do you trust the shop to take care of your wheel and tire needs? Or do you want to oversee every step of the process? Do you have some horror stories? How about some happy stories?

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