Tire swap tips – tools and tips to save your rubber and your time!

By Benjamin Jerew

Spring is here, which means it’s time to put away your winter tires and slap on your summer set. This is one of the easiest tasks that any aspiring do-it-yourselfer can get started with, but that doesn’t mean it won’t take the right tools, know-how and attitude to get it done correctly, and safely.

Wondering what’s the best way to get rolling on summer stock? Check out these tips aimed at making the job of swapping one set of tires for another that much easier.

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  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Duration: 30-45 minutes
  • How often: Every season

Use The Right Tools

The proper tools make every job much less frustrating than if you try to make-do with whatever you have on-hand. This means preparing for the tire swap by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do I need to remove hubcaps or lug nut covers? If so, do I have the right-size flathead screwdriver / socket for the for the covers?
  • Do I have the exact socket size for my lug nuts, in either metric or imperial?
  • Do I have a strong enough impact driver or long enough socket driver to break my lugs loose?
  • Do I have some penetrating oil to loosen the lugs if they are stuck?

Make sure you have the right tools with you before you get started, and you’ll save yourself a lot of grief – and trips to the auto parts store – in the middle of the swapping process.

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Safety First

To change your tires you will need to raise each wheel of your vehicle off of the ground, which means you will have to use a jack that is appropriate to the height of your car or truck. Once up in the air, however, you can’t start take those lug nuts off until you’ve safely supported the weight of the automobile on a set of jack stands, which offer the kind of guaranteed strength and stability that a jack can’t promise.

It’s also crucial to understand where you can place your jack under the front and rear of the car in order to safely lift it without damaging any important components. These jacking points will be listed in your vehicle’s manual, and should always be respected.

Inspect Each Wheel And Tire

There’s never a better time to check on the condition of both your wheels and tires than when you’ve taken them off. This gives you the opportunity to examine the tread and sidewall of the tire in areas that may have been hidden while installed. You’re searching for cracks, missing chunks, or unusual bulges that could indicate it’s time for replacement. On the rim you’ll want to examine for cracks as well, or missing pieces that may compromise the strength of the wheel.

Remember – don’t just give the tires coming off your automobile the once over, as you’ll want to take a close look at your summer tires and wheels, too, before you put them on. You never know if you may have missed anything when you inspected them last fall before putting them away for the season. You did inspect them…right

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