Introduction: Winter Summer Tire Swap
As I write this article, there is 15 cm of snow on the ground and it's -10 degrees. But it's November 13th!? Yeah, I know, we're all feeling it a bit early this year.
Luckily, I installed my winter tires just in time last week. My summer tires are on mags while my winter tires are on steel rims, which makes swapping them out a totally doable do-it-yourself project. I'll show you how in just a few easy steps!
Before getting started you’ll need to find your tool kit, which can typically be found in the trunk, sometimes with the spare tire. You should have a jack and some basic tools like a lug wrench and some wheel chocks.
Step 1: Safety Prep
I’m starting with the front right wheel so before doing anything at all I’m going to circle around the car to the opposite left rear wheel and install my wheel chocks on both sides of the wheel to make sure the car doesn’t roll while it’s up on the jack.
You can also use bricks instead to wedge the wheels. You should also make sure you’re on a flat surface, and activate your parking brake. Safety first.
Step 2: Loosen Lug Nuts
Before you jack up the car, you want to first loosen the lug nuts, just to get them unstuck.
With the car’s lug wrench it can be almost impossible to get off the nuts. If you’re going to do this bi-annually, I highly recommend getting a cross wrench. For stuck on lug nuts, a breaker bar is an essential tool to have.
So with the car still on the ground, use a breaker bar or cross wrench to get the nuts unstuck. You don’t want to unscrew the nuts just yet, just get each of the nuts moving. It’s important to do this before you jack up the car for safety reasons. Otherwise the lateral force could cause the car to roll and fall off of the jack.
Step 3: Jack Up Car
Once your lug nuts are free, grab your jack and start getting it into position. If you’re not sure where that is, be sure to check your manual. There will typically be some symbol or indicator of the fulcrum point, showing where to position the jack. My car says there’s an upside down triangle that leads to the leverage point.
So after finding the symbol I can set my jack into position onto the metal lip under the car’s steel frame, just as shown in my manual, making sure the jack stays nice and square, not leaning to either side. I can then slowly crank the jack to raise the car off the ground. You don’t want to raise it too high though, just enough to get the wheel off the ground.
Step 4: Remove Wheel
You can now use your cross wrench to remove all the lug nuts one by one….
Next you can go ahead and pull off the wheel. If it’s stuck on, give it a whack on the edge with your hand to knock it loose.
It’s also a good time to grad some chalk and mark your tires so you’ll know where to install them next year.
Ideally you want to rotate your tires every year in a criss-cross pattern. However if you have directional tires, which is common for winter tires and indicated on the tire itself by an arrow, you should only rotate your tires front to back.
Step 5: Install New Wheel
Since I have directional tires, I grabbed the tire marked right rear and installed it front right.
The idea is to visually align the bolt holes as best you can then lift the tire into place. It helps to use your knee or foot to help hold the tire on the rim. At least it helps me!
Then grab your lug nuts and get 2 of them on, just to hold the tire in place. Continue to add the remaining lug nuts and tighten them lightly in a star-pattern.
Then continue to go around in a star-pattern to tighten all the nuts, but don’t go full force just yet while the car is still jacked up. Otherwise you could rock the car right off the jack.
Step 6: Remove Jack
At this point you can lower and remove the jack.
With the car back on the ground fully tighten the nuts, again going in a star-pattern. You don’t need to give it everything you’ve got. Stop when you feel a good amount of resistance and that the nut is snug, but don’t tighten to the point where you can’t get them off next year. If you have a torque wrench,this is ideal to tighten to the correct pressure.
Step 7: Inflate Tires
All that’s left is to install the hubcaps if you have them by taping them in.
Repeat the same process for all 4 tires, and make sure to inflate your tires to your car’s recommended tire pressure which can typically be found inside the driver’s side door. In my case, 38 PSI.
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