How To Properly Mount a Wheel
Mounting a wheel is something most people do throughout their lifetime. While it may seem easy enough for most, your wheels are one of the most critical parts of your vehicle, so any work revolving around wheels must be done with absolute certainty. Let’s see where to start.
All About Inspection
Before grabbing your wheel and jumping straight to the mounting process, we need to take a look at our surfaces. One of the key detractors in wheel security is small amounts of dust and debris that you may not be able to see. But, just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it can’t have legitimate effects on your wheels’ performance and safety.
Take a wire brush that can remove those bits of debris and go to town. Old vehicles seem to be magnets for these types of detractors. Also, be sure to inspect your wheels for previous refinishing. While this process can be very beneficial to the life of your wheels, it can also be done poorly. Keep an eye out for incorrect refinishing that can lead to a buildup of powder coating on your wheel mount surfaces and/or bolt holes.
Now, look for more visible evidence of damage. Common irregularities include bending, extreme corrosion, and cracking. This can be a result of long-term wear and tear that all vehicles endure, or it could be something a bit more worrisome such as inadequate fastener tightening.
If any of these large-scale problems are present in your wheel surfaces, consider taking it to a professional mechanic to prevent any catastrophic wheel-offs. However, if your wheels are in need of refinishing, check out Blackburn’s refacing capabilities.
Now it’s Time for the Lug Nuts
As one last precaution, make sure the wheel hub is clear of debris as you place the wheel on it to begin mounting. Also, you’ll want to be sure that your studs and nuts are OEM-quality. This is not something you want to skimp on and risk a major accident.
Now, make sure you snug the lug nuts by hand in the star pattern before applying your torque to them. The “star pattern” is the order in which you place and tighten the lug nuts. Rather than tightening each lug nut in a clockwise direction, the star pattern allows for the nuts to be equally torqued.
It should be a gradual process rather than cranking down each lug nut as far as you can go.
Also, applying the lug nuts by hand at first prevents cross-threading and ensures that they are properly attached before torque is applied. This is a good time to ensure that the threading on both the lug nuts and studs is pristine. Thread damage can affect your wheels’ security and lead to more expensive repairs down the road (pun not intended).
Once you’ve snugged down the lug nuts by hand, grab your handy torque tool of choice. Just be sure not to use an impact gun for the final torque. This can lead to “over-tightening” which is a real concern. Most people may think that tighter is always better, while that isn’t always the case. Obviously, we want it to be secure, but applying too much force can stretch the stud and severely lower the clamping force.
The final torque should ensure that they are tightened to around 75-100 ft. lbs., but be sure to check your vehicle’s owner manual which will have the exact number.
Not Done Quite Yet
Most people miss the critical final step to mounting your wheel: re-torquing. Once you’ve driven on your new wheel(s) for about 50 to 100 miles of driving, torque your lug nuts again to take care of any settling that could have occurred. Also, the vibration from driving could have loosened the lug nuts a bit.
Run your torque tool back over your lug nuts and drive with peace of mind. Having a wheel fly off your vehicle and into the path of traffic can be quite a frightening experience. Let’s avoid that.
Over time, your lug nuts can become loose, so re-torque from time to time and drive without worry of a wheel-off.