How to Remove the Wheels from Your Vehicle

Your tires are an essential part of your vehicle. They are there for safety, comfort, and performance. The tires are mounted to the wheels, which in turn are mounted to the vehicle. Some vehicles have directional or positional tires on them. Directional means that the tires are made to rotate only in one direction while positional means that the tires are designed to be mounted only on a certain side or a certain corner of the vehicle.

You may have gotten a flat tire and needed to install your spare. You may want to remove your wheels to rotate the tires for maintenance. You may need to do other work, such as a brake job or replace a wheel bearing.

No matter what the reason may be, knowing the correct way to remove and install your wheels and tires can assist you in preventing damage and getting you out of a bind. There are several key things to keep in mind when removing and installing the wheels.

Part 1 of 2: Removing the wheels

No matter the reason that you have for removing the wheels and tires, it is important to have the right tools and safety equipment to prevent damage to the vehicle or injury to yourself.

Materials Needed

Step 1: Park your vehicle. Park your vehicle in a flat, hard and level surface. Apply the parking brake.

car on jack stands

Step 2: Put wheel chocks in proper place. Place the wheel chocks around and of the tires that are to remain on the ground.

  • Tip: If you are only working on the front, place the wheel chocks around the rear tires. If you are only working on the rear, place the wheel chocks around the front tires.

lug nuts being loosened

Step 3: Loosen lug nuts. Using the ratchet and socket, or the tire iron, loosen the lug nuts on the wheels that are to be removed approximately ¼ turn.

car being lifted by a jack

Step 4: Lift the vehicle. Using the floor jack, lift the vehicle on the manufacturer’s suggested lift point, until the tire to be removed is off of the ground.

jack stand underneath car clost to tire

Step 5: Place jack stand. Place the jack stand under the jacking point and lower the vehicle onto the jack stand.

  • Tip: If you are removing more than one wheel and tire at a time then you need to lift one corner of the vehicle at a time. Each corner of the vehicle that is being worked on must have a jack stand in place.

  • Warning: Do not attempt to lift one side of the vehicle or the entire vehicle at one time as damage or injury can occur.

person using wrench to remove lug nuts

Step 6: Remove lug nuts. Remove the lug nuts from the lug studs using a tire wrench tool.

  • Tip: If the lug nuts are corroded then apply some penetrating lubricant to them and give it time to penetrate.

mechanic removing wheel from car

Step 7: Remove the wheel and tire. Carefully remove the wheel and secure it in a safe place.

Some wheels can become corroded to the wheel hub and be difficult to remove. If this occurs, use a rubber mallet and hit the back side of the wheel until it comes loose.

  • Warning: When doing this, do not hit the tire as the mallet can come back and strike you causing serious injury.

Part 2 of 2: Installing the wheels and tires

person installing wheel back

Step 1: Place the wheel back on the studs. Install the wheel over the lug studs.

person using fingers to place in lug nuts

Step 2: Install the lug nuts by hand. Place the lug nuts back onto the wheel by hand at first.

  • Tip: If the lug nuts are difficult to install apply anti-seize to the threads.

lug nut star pattern

Step 3: Tighten lug nuts in a star pattern. Using the ratchet or the tire iron, tighten the lugs nuts in a star pattern until they are snug.

This will assist in seating the wheel correctly over the hub.

Step 4: Lower the vehicle to the ground. Once the wheel is secure, carefully bring your vehicle back to ground level.

Step 5: Make sure lug nuts are at proper torque. Torque the lug nuts to manufacturer’s specifications using a start pattern.

When removing and installing your wheels and tires, it is very important to tighten the lug nuts down using an alternating star pattern, and torquing them to specifications. Failure to do so can allow the wheel to come off of the vehicle while you are driving. If you are having any trouble removing the wheels from your vehicle or think that there is a problem with the lug nuts, then you should get some help from a certified mechanic that can tighten the nuts for you and make sure your wheel is properly installed.


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Richard

21 years of experience
461 reviews
Richard
21 years of experience
Dodge Neon L4-2.0L - Tighten Wheel Lug Nuts - Marietta, Georgia
Richard is very kool. On time cordial. Does a great Job. great advice too, for all your repairs I truthfully recommend his services. Great Mechanic.
Lexus ES300 - Tighten Wheel Lug Nuts - Marietta, Georgia
According to Richard, the problem has been rectified, however, the replacement lug nut is the incorrect style. He will return to replace it with the correct one when it has been ordered and scheduled.

Cesar

9 years of experience
292 reviews
Cesar
9 years of experience
Kia Sedona V6-3.8L - Tighten Wheel Lug Nuts - Edmonds, Washington
Is there a rating higher than five stars? I figured out what the other auto place they went to couldn’t and save me some money on a wheel repair as well as time to fix it. He also identified a broken tie rod that they haven’t. Could’ve been very dangerous.

John

27 years of experience
1019 reviews
John
27 years of experience
Ford Mustang V8-4.6L - Tighten Wheel Lug Nuts - League City, Texas
Great work and professionalism.

David

10 years of experience
193 reviews
David
10 years of experience
Acura RDX L4-2.3L Turbo - Tighten Wheel Lug Nuts - Clementon, New Jersey
Very patient and knowledgeable. Thank you .

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Related questions

There is a loud humming noise coming from from passenger side of car that starts at about 40mph.
Hi, thanks for writing in. I'd be happy to help. I would suggest checking the wheel bearings (https://www.yourmechanic.com/article/symptoms-of-bad-or-failing-wheel-bearings) as a worn wheel bearing can create this loud hum you are describing. Wheel bearings are subjected to a lot of friction...
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Your lug nuts should be torqued to 80-90 foot pounds. This is fairly standard on most cars. You may want to check the torque after the first few hundred miles as well since lug nuts sometimes back off a bit...
I have a 2001 bmw x5 4.4i. When driving over 30 mph and turning right I hear a humming sound and when braking and turning right the vehicle shakes.
Hi there. Check the wheel lug nuts and make sure that they are tight. When turning and you hear a loud humming noise, this is usually the lug nuts loose and the wheel rubbing the brakes or the wheel bearings...

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