Wheels and Tires

Do you tighten your wheels in the air or touching the ground?

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  • Apr 21st, 2020 9:28 am
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Deal Addict
Feb 17, 2012
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ORLEANS

Do you tighten your wheels in the air or touching the ground?

So I was wondering Is both these ways tightening your nuts proper?
Tighten lug nuts with wheel hanging in the air with torque sticks on impact gun and then drop the jack with wheel touching the ground. Then use torque wrench

Or

Hand tighten lug nuts. Drop the jack a bit with wheel just touching the ground. Then impact gun with torque sticks. Then use torque wrench

Are both these ways proper?
38 replies
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Jun 9, 2011
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I use an impact wrench, tighten them while on the Jack. Then lower my car, once the tire makes contact to the ground, I stop and torque all lug nuts, then lower the rest of the car.
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Sep 8, 2017
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+1

I do the same. An impact gun on low setting gets the wheel nuts to about 50 lb-ft, and the wheel tight against the brake disc and hub. Then let the car down and torque them to spec. You can sort of do this without an impact wrench, you just won't get the wheel nuts as tight. Still better than nothing though.

When I worked at the Costco tire centre, we actually torqued them to spec with the tires still off the ground. But they had custom made wheel chocks to prevent the wheels from turning when you used the torque wrench.
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May 24, 2006
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I don't know if my method is correct or not. While the car is lifted, I will use a cross wrench to put the bolts on and tighten to a point. Then lower the car and use the torque wrench to finish the job.
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Jan 20, 2014
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Ottawa
Snug in the air, torque on the ground.
Member
Mar 6, 2015
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New Brunswick
And don't forget to re-torque after 40km!
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Oct 12, 2007
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Palidino wrote: So I was wondering Is both these ways tightening your nuts proper?
Tighten lug nuts with wheel hanging in the air with torque sticks on impact gun and then drop the jack with wheel touching the ground. Then use torque wrench

Or

Hand tighten lug nuts. Drop the jack a bit with wheel just touching the ground. Then impact gun with torque sticks. Then use torque wrench

Are both these ways proper?
They're both fine. I don't use torque sticks personally but see nothing wrong with using them as long as the lugs are subsequently tightened with a proper torque wrench.

FWIW, a step we all omitted here is to ensure the parking brake is on before we jack the car up. Wheel chocks are useful too.
Sr. Member
Aug 13, 2011
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Scarborough southwes…
bunmin wrote: And don't forget to re-torque after 40km!
What's the reasoning behind this one?
I stopped years ago and I've never seen it loosen.
Is it more for forgetful people who might have missed doing a nut?
Deal Addict
Feb 24, 2007
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Actually important thing is to hand tighten in a way to make sure the rim of the each hole is resting on the shoulder of the nut not on the thread of screw when car is on the jack. Then tighten with torque wrench in a criss-cross pattern. Lower the jack and torque wrench it to spec. Then re-torque or checked later.
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Deal Guru
Jan 15, 2006
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MrMimizu wrote: What's the reasoning behind this one?
I stopped years ago and I've never seen it loosen.
Is it more for forgetful people who might have missed doing a nut?
I've had nuts come loose. Always better to double check just incase, doesn't take long anyways.
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Oct 12, 2007
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EP32k2 wrote: I've had nuts come loose. Always better to double check just incase, doesn't take long anyways.
Same.

Retorquing is a good practice. I usually give it a week. I confess that I don't jack up the car before I retorque but just go around the car and check each lug with a torque wrench. That means that any lug or wheel cover doesn't go on right away and is a reminder for me to get off my lazy behind and retorque.
Deal Guru
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Sep 21, 2010
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Always tighten to spec w tires on the ground. The lugs may loosen when the tires are back on pavement even when torqued to spec when car's jacked up. We drive on roads, not in the air.
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Sep 2, 2006
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You won't be able to torque them in the air. The tires will spin as they have no resistance.

If using your home jack, tighten the nuts by hands or tool. Drop it and put a little weight on the ground, not all, then torque it in a star pattern.
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Oct 6, 2007
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MrMimizu wrote: What's the reasoning behind this one?
I stopped years ago and I've never seen it loosen.
Is it more for forgetful people who might have missed doing a nut?
No, it came into vogue as alloy wheels became popular. There's little chance that my F-150's steel wheels, torqued to 150 lbs will come loose ( I check them anyway). There's a much better chance that my Venza's alloy wheels torqued to 76 lbs will. It also ensures you didn't miss a nut.
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Dec 28, 2007
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br0pbr0p wrote: I don't know if my method is correct or not. While the car is lifted, I will use a cross wrench to put the bolts on and tighten to a point. Then lower the car and use the torque wrench to finish the job.
This is what I do. I never use an impact gun even though I have one.

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