You have a flat tire, and you jack up the wheel, but it refuses to come off. What could have happened?
Changing a wheel should not be this hard, but a wheel can get stuck due to rust accumulation. This corrosion appears in the area between the wheel and the hub.
This makes it hard to remove the wheel because it feels permanently welded to the hub.
If you are changing the wheel alone and there is no one to give you that necessary muscle, consider some of the following tire removal tips.
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Why Do Wheels Get Stuck?
If you leave your car in an area exposed to snow and road salt, then these elements can get into your aluminum alloy rims and into the hub, where they cause corrosion. These corrosive elements tightly glue your wheel to the hub, making it almost impossible to replace a worn-out tire.
It is not only aluminum wheels with this problem but also steel wheels, which can happen in any climate conditions after some time.
We recommend purchasing some synthetic grease to apply to the wheel hub and rim to prevent this problem from happening. Do this the moment you purchase a new car or during the first wheel replacement.
So let’s find out the best methods of removing a stuck wheel.
How To Remove A Stuck Wheel or Tire
Here are a few tips from me which I’m usually using myself to remove stuck wheels. Remember always to use safety equipment and get help from a professional mechanic if you are not sure about how to do it. Follow these steps to remove a stuck wheel:
Total Time: 10 minutes
Loosen the Nuts and Drive slowly
If you are near a service station or a garage, you can use this simple trick to remove a wheel stuck on your car. Loosen the wheel nuts but do not remove them altogether. Lower the car and drive a few feet forward and backward. Repeat this process on level ground. Jack up the car and remove the nuts.
The wheel should have loosened, and you should now be able to remove it. Ensure that when driving the car, that the nuts are not so loose that they fall off and drive super slowly, not to risk any accidents.
Spray Rust Penetrant on hub & bolts
If you have aluminum alloys or steel wheels, then the likelihood of rust/corrosion developing on the hub is high. You can use a rust removal lubricant to loosen the wheel. In the procedure, first, remove the wheel cap and spray the wheel studs. You can use lubricants like PB Blazer or Liquid Wrench.
After spraying the studs, do the same in the area where the wheel intersects with the central hub. Give the spray around 15 minutes, and then try to get the wheel loose again by giving it a slight punch or kick.
Kick by using your foot
After jacking up the car, remove all wheel bolts or nuts except one. Use your foot to hit the tire while it is off the ground. Check that your car is standing on the jack stands safely. Rotate the wheel and hit it with a kick again. With continuous effort, the wheel should separate from the hub, and you can then comfortably remove it after unscrewing the last bolt.
This method of removing a wheel stuck on the car is better than using a hammer to hit the stuck wheel. The force from a hammer will destroy the wheel rim and bolts. Once you have removed your tire, use some sandpaper to remove any rust on the hub. The next time you re-install the wheel, apply some anti-seize.
Lumber and Heavy Hammer
While this technique is not safe, you can try it out when you have run out of options with a wheel stuck on the car. The first stage is to jack up the car. Before proceeding, ensure that the car is secure on the jack stands. Find lumber measuring 2X4 inches and place it in the space between wheel and tire.
Identify a heavy-duty hammer and then get under the car. Place the lumber across the wheel and tire and use your hammer to hit the lumber. This will free up the wheel and enable you to remove it from the hub carefully. You need to note this method can be dangerous because you are under the car. If your jack stands fail, the car will collapse on you, causing instant death. You also need to be beefy to operate the hammer.
Crowbar Between Hub and Rim
This is the method I’m using myself and has solved this problem thousands of times. Spray some lubricant around the wheel hub and bolts if possible. Then place some protection on the rim at the point where you put the crowbar.
Get a long crowbar and put it between the rim and wheel spindle or control arm, depending on where you can find a good location. Check the image above.
You need to be a little bit careful with this technique, though it may damage the rim. However, it is a super-effective method that works every time.
Take Your Car to a Service Station
If you have tried all the techniques mentioned above and your wheel is still stuck, you may be forced to take it to a tire service station. This is better than hitting the wheel with a hammer and destroying your bolts, hub, and rims. Just be honest and tell them that the wheel is stuck before giving you a price for the job.
Conclusion: Stuck Wheel Removal
Having a wheel stuck on the tire is not a pleasant affair – especially when you are in a hurry. The main cause of a wheel stuck on the tire is when corrosion forms in the area between the rim and hub. This corrosive element acts like strong glue and can cause problems removing the wheel from the hub. There have been various solutions proposed to remove the tire, each with its set of pros and cons.
The easiest technique to remove a stuck tire is to find a lubricant and spray it into the spaces in the rim against the hub. This lubricant is effective in dissolving the rust formed.
You can also jack up the car and leave one bolt on the wheel. Use your leg to hit the wheel until it comes loose. Some people use a heavy hammer or torch to dislodge a stuck tire, but this can cause damage to the rims. It also requires some muscle.