My daughter wanted me to rotate her tires. I’m impressed that she sees that as useful. I know I don’t rotate my own tires as often as I should. Rotating your tires helps you preserve the life of your tires. It also helps with handling. Ideally all four tires wear more evenly.
And, OF COURSE, I’m going to help her if she is being conscientious about routine maintenance. I have two floor jacks and a half dozen jack stands. The thing about rotating tires is it’s much easier if you can get all four wheels off the ground at the same time.
And if you happen to have a pneumatic impact wrench, which I do, it’s really fast.
- Jack up car and put on jackstands
- Remove all the lug nuts (using the impact wrench)
- Move tires to new location
- Mount the tires and put the lug nuts back on (using a torque wrench NOT an impact wrench
- Put the car back on the ground
With my daughter helping I figured it would take about 15 minutes.
First problem was that one of the lug nuts was stuck. Now, it takes a lot to get stuck to the point that an impact wrench has an issue. The wrench has three speeds. (No, they aren’t low, medium and high. They are three dots. A small dot. A medium sized dot. And a big dot.) I didn’t want her spinning the lugs too hard so I had it on the medium setting. But, one lug wouldn’t come off. The impact wrench just complained.
Okay. We moved up to the BIG DOT size.
Just keep it on there it will come off eventually.
She has a Nissan Ultima. It’s not like we are taking lugs off a semi. Sure enough eventually the lug nut started to move. And under great protest it came off. And showed that we had essentially sheered off the last 1/2 inch of threads on the lug. I’m gonna have to deal with that.
An important piece of information. She recently had new tires put on her car. . .at a dealership.
Okay, great. We move the tires around and figure we’ll put three back on and then fix the fourth one. And that’s when I realized what the problem was. She has nice chrome wheels. The lug nuts are short lug nuts. And it is difficult to get them into the holes in her wheels so they can be started on the lugs. Now I understood why the lug nut was stripped and forced. The tire shop had trouble getting it back on and at one point simply used the impact wrench to “force” it the rest of the way on. I hate to think what would have happened if she had a flat tire. There is no way my daughter was going to get that lug nut off using a tire iron.
How to get them back on? Even my daughter’s fingers weren’t small enough to fit them on. Finally, I put a piece of tape in my socket and then pressed the lug nut into the tape. That worked, but it was still a challenge. We torqued the lug nuts to 100 ft/lbs.
But, now we had the problem wheel. First step in replacing the lugs is to remove the rotor. That’s a big dinner plate sized piece of steel that your brakes grab. I pounded away for about 15 minutes before I finally loosened it enough to come off.
Auto repairs are a combination of brute force and a delicate touch. Getting the lug nuts on required a delicate touch. Getting old lugs out of a hub requires brute force. Once the rotor is off you just smack the offending lug with a big hammer and it shoots out the back.
In addition to the stripped one (thank you unnamed tire store!) there was a another lug that needed to be replace. I pounded them out and then we took a trip to the auto parts store and bought two new lugs and two new lug nuts. Back home you feed the new lug into the back of the hub and then put a lug nut on and turn it up to BIG DOT and literally “pull” the new lug into the hub.
My 15 minute tire rotation job took a trip to the parts store and about two hours. But, her tires are now rotated and if she gets a flat she’ll be able to change the tire.
I offered her the two old lugs.
You should keep these.
Okay. But, why?
Well, if anyone gives you grief about your dating you can say your Dad introduced you to two real studs.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here
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