Removing a wheel cover or hubcap

Just insert the point of the tool where the edge of the cover meets the wheel, and apply a little leverage. The cap should pop off. You may have to do this in a couple of places as if you were prying the lid off a can of paint.

If you’re afraid of marring the finish, lay the cover on a rag. After you remove the wheel cover or hubcap, the next task is to loosen the lug nuts.

Loosening the lug nuts

Lug nuts are those big nuts that hold the wheel in place. How you remove the lug nuts on your vehicle depends on whether you have alloy wheels that are held on by lug nuts with delicate finishes, or hubcaps or wheel covers with standard lug nuts behind them.

Lug nuts with special finishes

The delicate aluminum or chrome-plated lug nuts on alloy wheels need careful handling. They should never be loosened or replaced with power tools that can scratch the delicate finish.

(Some power tools have rubberized or plastic-coated fittings to avoid damaging the nuts, but those will be of no use to you on the road with no power supply to run them.) Many mechanics prefer to do it all by hand using a special lug fitting to avoid scarring the finish or rounding off the corners of the nuts. You can find this fitting at many parts and tire shops.

Some alloy wheels come with one or more locking nuts on each wheel to help discourage wheel thieves, and you must use the special “key” that came with the car to unlock them before loosening. Be sure you know where your wheel locks are if your vehicle has them

Lug nuts with standard finishes

Most garages retighten ordinary lug nuts with a power tool, and unless you’ve done the job yourself by hand, they’re pretty hard to loosen yourself. (Take my advice in Chapter 3 and buy a cross-shaft lug wrench.  shows what one looks like.)

To make the job easier if an emergency arises, you may want to go out and try to remove the lug nuts on your vehicle now, following these instructions. If you have problems, resolve them now so that you won’t have to struggle at the side of the road.

I don’t suggest using this kind of strong-arm tactic on lug nuts with special finishes, but if an ordinary nut has been put on with a power tool and you can’t get it started, a piece of hollow pipe, fitted over that left-hand arm of the cross-shaft wrench, magically adds enough leverage to start the nut easily.

After you replace the nut yourself, this aid is no longer necessary. But remember, the longer the arms on your lug wrench, the more leverage you have.

Changing the tire

Before you jack up your vehicle, remove the spare from the trunk. After the vehicle is safely jacked up and the lug nuts are off, follow these instructions to change the tire.

Last word

the flat off, it should slide along the bolts until, suddenly, it clears the end of the bolts and you find yourself supporting its full weight. Tires are heavy, and you’ll be quite happy to lower them to the ground if you haven’t already dropped them.

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