What to Do When the Tire Won’t Come Off

Cars are delicate machines and need constant maintenance to make sure they’re at their full potential. The average vehicle lasts about twelve years, but you’ll notice some wear and tear sooner.

One common issue you may deal with is having your tire stuck. Read on for some common reasons why a tire would get stuck as well as the steps needed to fix it.

What Does It Mean When Your Tire Won’t Come Off?

Though it can be stressful, there’s no need to panic – bluntly speaking, all it means is that your tire is stuck! A stuck tire can be an issue if the tire is flat, wobbling, or having other malfunctions. However, in lesser cases, a car should still be perfectly driveable.

Why Would a Tire Get Stuck?

Almost any time your tire is stuck that means there’s an issue with the nuts that hold your tire on. This could be a variety of things, including but not limited to these four issues.

Warped Wheel Nuts

You may be struggling to remove a tire because the wheel nuts have become warped or malformed. The most common cause of this is reattaching the wheel nuts incorrectly when placing the tire on.

Rusted Channel

For older cars – especially those near the sea or another source of saltwater – rust will inevitably form on the metal. The channel that you screw the wheel nuts into may have rust forming. Rust can make removing the wheel nuts extremely difficult.

Stuck Wheel Nuts

Many other obstructions can cause wheel nuts to be stuck. A build-up of grime, dirt, sand, mud, or other foreign materials can effectively seal wheel nuts in their channel. Consider cleaning the nut channel out with a power washer if this is the issue.

Overly-Tightened Nuts

The final common cause is that the nuts are too tight. Such an issue is common when too much pressure is built up during tightening. With the right tools, you can unscrew these bolts – though you may need a professional’s help for their equipment.

What Do You Do If Your Tire Won’t Come Off?

The first step is to check and see what the issue is. While the nuts are the most common cause, there are other more severe issues like corrosion or severe warping. If the nuts are fine, but the tire won’t come off regardless, you should almost undoubtedly seek professional help.

Even if the issue is the nuts, you may want to make sure you know a good mechanic or automotive service nearby. Some projects can be above a DIY fix, and you may need to purchase another tire.

Tools and Equipment Needed

Though the issue can require a variety of equipment, here are some of the essentials:

  • Safety gear (gloves, safety glasses, medical equipment)
  • Something to lay on (towel, mat, rolling board)
  • Carjack
  • Lug wrench
  • Lubricant

Consider upgrading to the best version of any of these things. For example, a manual car jack will work just fine, but you can save effort with a pneumatic or automatic car jack. You may also want to use power tools instead of a manual lug wrench or crossbar wrench.

Other tools may be useful depending on your issue. A crowbar, a hammer, some spare wood, and other tools could help. Keep your whole tool kit nearby just in case the need arises.

Safety Precautions

One of the most important things about working on cars is never to work alone. If the jack fails and you find yourself stuck under your car, you’ll want someone else there to help. There are countless dangers to working on your car, and you should always ensure someone is there to help if things go wrong.

Past this, make sure that your jack is properly secured, and support bars are in place. You should also wear gloves and goggles in case anything goes flying away.

Procedure for Removing a Seized Tire

If you’re dealing with your tire being stuck, here are the quickest ways to get the lug nuts off.

Spray Lubricant

The first step will be to spray automotive lubricant into the channel. You can’t use too much, so feel free to spray as much as you feel you’ll need.

Loosen Nuts (If Possible)

Once the lubricant has set in and penetrated the channels, attempt to loosen the nuts. If you’re lucky, you may have already gotten your tire off!

Drive Slowly

If your tire is still stuck, you can attempt to drive in a very small area. Don’t go more than a few feet, as there’s the chance the tire may fall off if the nuts are nearly off. Doing this will help wiggle the tire free.

Hit With Hammer

If the nuts are off and the tire still won’t move, it may have built rust up on its frame. Hit the rubber wheel with a hammer to help push it off. Placing a piece of wood over metal and hitting that – or using a rubber mallet instead – can help prevent dings and damage.

Pry With Crowbar

If the hammer isn’t working, carefully use a crowbar. Be sure that you aren’t accidentally causing damage to your car’s body or frame. Doing so can help push the tire away from the frame.

Call Professionals

At this point, if you still are unable to remove the tire, you may have too severe an issue to deal with at home. You should likely contact professionals to have them do what they can. They likely have tools that you don’t that can easily remove the tire at a low fee.

Should You Remove a Seized Tire Yourself?

Ultimately, this depends on what the issue is. If your tire won’t come off because the nuts have some sort of issue, it’s almost certainly something you can DIY. That said, it’s almost always best to have a professional handle it for safety and efficiency reasons.

If you have more questions about handling a seized tire or other automotive concerns, feel free to contact us for more information.

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Author: Dave Johnston

Dave is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

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