Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Into Every Life a Flat Tire Must Fall

Sooner or later, good weather or bad, your vehicle will get a flat. Then you have to get out the jack and lug wrench to change the tire. The latter tool is what this is about.

This is the wrench that came with my truck, which is like the one in most cars and light trucks. It's a little over a foot long, which means that unless you're fairly stout in the arms and shoulders, getting a really tight or rusty lug nut off can damn near give you a rupture. If that happens, find a piece of pipe to slip over it to give you a longer handle and more leverage.

Lots of people pick up a four-way wrench. It's not much longer, but since you can use one arm to push and one to pull, it works better. It also allows you, once the nut is loose, to loosely hold the arm opposite the nut and spin the wrench, removing the nut quickly.

I think this is best for loosening and tightening the nuts. This is a two-foot breaker bar with an end that fits into a 1/2" drive socket. It creates serious leverage that'll make it easier to take the nuts off, and to put them back on tightly when the spare is on. Get an impact socket to fit your lug nuts, put it on, and leave it in the car.

Why an impact socket?  A standard socket has a number of points inside, which bear on the corners of the nut or bolt. An impact socket is different in two ways: 
  1. It's made of steel intended to take the shock of being used in an impact wrench (usually air-powered);
  2. It only has six points, with the "flats" in between actually convex in shape, This means the flats bear on the flats of the nut or bolt, not the points, which means the socket can put a lot more torque on it without having to worry about stripping the corners. That's a very good thing when you're taking off a lug nut that's been in place a long time and may have some rust/dirt/Mystery Universal Adhesive holding it in place.

Ozat is a brand of impact sockets.
Image from http://alltorcusa.com/sockets-backup-wrenches/
Get a breaker bar and an impact socket for your tires. You'll be glad you did. 

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