Whether you need to change a flat tire, rotate the wheels, or do some repairs, you will need to remove the lug nuts first. It is important that you remove the lug nuts and the wheel safely so as not to injure yourself. With a few precautions and working slowly, you can safely and successfully remove a wheel from the vehicle.
Method 1 of 3: Remove a Raised Wheel Using a Jack
Step 1. Use an appropriate tool to loosen the nuts
Before lifting the car, use a lug wrench or lever wrench to loosen the lug nuts. Don't remove them completely, but give each one about a quarter turn counterclockwise to loosen them enough to be able to finish removing them while the vehicle is raised.
- You can buy lever wrenches for wheels that have one end that fits all vehicles at your local auto parts store.
- You can also choose to just use an appropriately sized deep frame with a ratchet bar.
Step 2. Remove the nuts
Since the nuts will already be loose before you lift the car, it should be fairly easy to finish unscrewing them. Use a wrench if necessary to turn the nuts counterclockwise until they come off the studs.
- The wheel may spin when trying to remove the lug nuts, so be careful with your fingers to avoid pinching.
- Remove the nuts in a star pattern, rather than in a row.
Step 3. Apply thread loosening fluid if necessary
If the nuts have rusted, apply a good amount of a thread lubricant or rust remover to the nuts. Let it sit for a few minutes and then try loosening the nut again.
- If the nut and stud break, you will need to install a new stud to repair the vehicle.
- Make sure you are using the correct size die. A slightly larger socket could damage the nut.
- A cracked or bent nut will need to be professionally removed.
Step 4. Put the nuts in a safe place
Put the nuts in a safe place so you don't lose them. If you lose one lug, you may be able to temporarily fix the wheel with the remaining lug nuts, but if you lose more than one, the vehicle will not be safe to drive until you have replaced them.
- You can buy replacement nuts at an auto parts store.
- Store the nuts in a small bowl or container so they can't roll off while you work.
Step 5. Pull the wheel towards you
Once you've removed the lug nuts, put your hands on both sides of the tire. Grab the rear of the wheel and pull towards you to remove the wheel from the studs. If you haven't removed the wheel in a long time, it may take a little more force to remove it.
- Be careful, if the tire is damaged there may be a protruding metal wire that can cut you.
- Wear a pair of gloves to remove a damaged tire.
Step 6. Use a rubber mallet to loosen the stuck wheels
If the wheel is stuck and won't come off when you pull hard, use a rubber mallet to loosen it. Hit where the rim and tire meet along the circumference of the wheel until it comes loose.
- Do not use a metal hammer to hit the wheels or you risk damaging them.
- If the wheel is badly rusted, it may take a lot of force to remove it.
Method 2 of 3: Jack up a wheel
Step 1. Locate the designated support points on the vehicle
Each vehicle has specific points on the chassis that are designed to support the weight of the vehicle being lifted. These footholds are not always easy to identify, so consult your vehicle's owner's manual to help you find them in case you run into difficulties.
- Typically, there are support points on the car chassis inside each wheel and at a central point at the front and rear of the car.
- Lifting the car at a point not designed for it can cause damage to the chassis of the same.
Step 2. Close the valve on the jack
Floor jacks use a hydraulic system to lift the vehicle off the ground. When the hydraulic valve is open, the jack will not be able to create pressure on the piston to lift the car. Use the jack handle to turn the valve clockwise until it is fully closed. Reinsert the handle into the jack after you have done so if you used the handle to close the valve.
- Different types of jacks may place the valve in different places, but it is often a different color from the rest of the jack or is left unpainted entirely.
- If you are using a scissor jack, there is no valve that you need to close.
Step 3. Place the jack under the corresponding support point
Slide the jack under the fulcrum closest to the wheel you want to remove, so that the jack's load bearing is just below the chassis. You may need to lift the jack load support slightly, lifting the handle and pressing it down or twisting it once to make sure the jack is in the correct position.
- The load stand must be centered on the designated fulcrum on the vehicle.
- The bracket has teeth or ridges to help prevent the car's chassis from slipping when jacked up.
Step 4. Use the jack to lift the vehicle
Depending on the type of jack you use, you will need to raise and lower the handle (floor jack) or turn it (scissor jack) to raise the vehicle. Start slowly, looking closely at the chassis around the fulcrum for signs of metal bending or warping.
If you see signs that the metal is bending, lower the car and reposition the jack correctly on the fulcrum
Step 5. Raise the car only as high as necessary
Lifting a vehicle too high can increase the danger of it slipping off the jack or jack stands. Once it's high enough to change the tire, put a jack stand underneath for added security.
- Do not put any part of your body under the vehicle unless it is supported by jack stands.
- You only need to lift the vehicle until the tire is off the ground to be able to remove it.
Method 3 of 3: Prepare to Use the Cat
Step 1. Find a firm, level area in which to lift the car
When lifting a part of the car to remove the wheel, the weight of that part will be focused on the relatively small space under the jack. Therefore, it is essential that you lift the car in an area that can withstand the pressure. Concrete and asphalt are the best options for lifting a car. It is extremely unsafe to lift a vehicle on an inclined area, so choosing a flat surface is also very important.
- Never lift a vehicle on sloping or uneven surfaces.
- Raising a car on a surface that is not solid enough can cause the jack to fall or sink.
Step 2. Make sure you have room to work safely
Whether you are using an emergency jack or a floor jack, it is important that you have enough space to work without putting yourself or others in danger. Make sure you have at least enough room to stand with one arm extended toward the jack without coming into contact with a wall or in the middle of the street, if you are replacing a flat tire.
Make sure there is enough room for you to be behind the jack without getting in the lane of the road
Step 3. Make sure the car is in park mode
If the car is equipped with an automatic transmission, you must put it in park before lifting it up. By parking the car, you will prevent the wheels from spinning and the vehicle from rolling off the jack. Remember that the car may roll when parked, so it is important to use wheel chocks in combination with the vehicle's parking mode.
- Remember that parking the car will lock the drive wheels, so the front wheels of a front-wheel drive car will not turn at this time and the same will happen with a rear-wheel drive vehicle.
- If the car is equipped with a manual transmission, try putting first gear to prevent it from rolling.
- You can place stones or plastic wheel chocks bought from an auto parts store behind the wheels to make sure they can't turn while you lift the vehicle.
Step 4. Activate the parking brake
Depending on the make and model of the vehicle, the hand (or parking) brake may be a lever on the center console or a pedal on the left side of the driver's seat. Pull the lever or press the pedal to activate the parking brake and prevent the vehicle from rolling as you lift it.
- Your owner's manual can help you find your parking brake if you're not sure where it is.
- The parking brake locks the rear wheels, so it won't help if the entire rear of the car is raised.