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Thursday, January 26, 2012

How do you change a tire?

Have you ever given this question much thought? Your answer will depend on your answer to a number of very important questions that need to be considered first.

1. Do you have a spare? A lot of RVs don’t have a one. Their only option is to call a service and hope the service company has the correct size.

2. If you have a spare, is it inflated? Given the number of folk who seldom check the tires already on the ground a majority simply forget to check the spare or don’t check because it isn’t easy to do.

3. If it’s inflated, do you have enough pressure to carry the load for the position where you are going to mount it? You probably need to be sure you have the spare inflated to the max on the tire sidewall so you can bleed it down to the correct amount for the position.

4. Do you have the necessary tools? Wrench, sockets, long breaker bar, jack, jack stand, steel plate to support the jack, Safety warning triangles, flares, and lighting to see what you are doing in the dark? How about waterproof tarp to sit on while doing the job? The steel plate needs to be big enough to support the jack if you didn’t park on a hard road surface.

5. If you think you have all the correct tools, have you made sure by actually unbolting a wheel?

6. Do you have the strength to loosen and retighten the nuts? Have you ever actually tried to loosen all the lug nuts? Do you know the torque specs? Do you have a torque wrench that is big enough for your RV? I have a full toolbox and air impact wrenches in my shop but I doubt I could loosen the nuts on a Class-A. Just watch the first 45 seconds of this sales video and ask yourself if this would be you? Note I am not endorsing that product. I just liked to see the guy jump on his wrench

One other thing to consider. If the nuts have been on for a few years there is a good possibility it will take much more than the OE specs to loosen. I have broken Craftsman and SK sockets on passenger lug nuts because they were put on too tight.

7. Finally do you have the strength to lift the tire & wheel to get it on the wheel studs?

I suggest that if you think you are going to change your own tire you need to do a few things.

1. You need to pick a nice day and with the RV level and the jack stand on a hard surface, first just see if you can loosen all the lug nuts and then re-tighten to the factory specs. Don’t do just one nut or one wheel but do them all. Be sure to have someone around watching just in case.

2. See if you can move the spare out of storage and to get it back into storage again.

3. Remove the inner dual and put it back on again.

4. Most important be sure you clean the threads and torque the nuts to proper specs.

5. Ask yourself if this is something you want to do while at the side of an Interstate In the rain, at night?

If you don’t feel up to the job you will need to plan on having a service do the job.

If you don’t have a lot of space for a spare tire mounted on a wheel you might consider having a used tire of the correct size just in case the service company doesn’t have your size. If informed most can do a tire change for you and you will save some big bucks too. You can always pack stuff inside the tire if there is no wheel.

Finally be sure to check the air on the spare every month, even on your toad.



  1. During WWII, my cousin was a small child living with her mother in Williamsburg, VA. Her mother worked for the telephone company and could take her small child with her to work. While riding her bicycle to work with Kay, they passed Central State Hospital (Mental Health Hospital) and saw a man changing a flat tire. The man had taken the tire off, placed the lug nuts in a pile and accidentally hit them and they all fell into the sewer! He was in a predicament! A man in a white coat nearby was watching. He suggested, "If you would remove some odd nuts off the other 3 tires, you could secure the spare tire enough to get to a filling station for help." Recognizing the brilliance of the solution to his problem, man thanked him and said, "Oh, are you a maintenance man here at Central State?", to which he heard, "No, I'm a patient here. I may be crazy buy I'm not stupid!"
    It's a true story!

  2. Another question to ask yourself is do you know the proper location to place the jack on your rig without damaging the frame or axle?

  3. I could change my own tires if I wanted too. I decided it is would be much safer to leave that job to the pros that have better equipment. For that reason I invested in a premium emergency road service that covers all my vehicles anywhere, anytime with unlimited mileage. Considering I'm towing a 19K# 5th wheel, it's just safer to let the pro do the job.

  4. On point 6 when you discuss tightening and loosening lug nuts, that video was pretty spot on. His product is called a torque multiplier lug nut wrench and they work great for both loosening and tightening. Just Google torque multiplier lug nut wrench and you'll find a bunch of options. Great tool.


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