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RECOVERY TECHNIQUES

SPARE WHEEL HANDLING

Changing a wheel shouldn't be hard work.

One day you’ll need to change a wheel and we show you some tricks that make the job less arduous. 

A ‘real 4WD’ wheel and tyre can be a fairly heavy combination: between 30kg and 45kg and you don’t want to risk back damage man-handling or woman-handling one more than you need to.

The most common spare wheel location is under the rear of a 4WD’s cargo space, where it’s relatively easy to raise and lower it, using the winch handle provided.

Alternative locations are inside a wagon, or on the tray of a ute and the following video shows you how to use a shovel as a ramp to roll it up and down, without much risk of back injury.

Once you’ve rolled the spare wheel and tyre beside the wheel you’re changing there is a need to remove that wheel and to lift the spare wheel into place over the wheel studs.

This can be an awkward operation, because you have to lift the spare wheel and tyre, while also wriggling it to fit over the studs.

Step one is to pull on the handbrake, lock the transmission in ‘P’ or first gear and chock two of the wheels that won’t be raised. Position the jack in the place designated in your 4WD owner’s handbook.

If the ground is soft you’ll need a pad under the jack. (We use a 30cm x 30cm piece of 25mm-thick plywood.)

Then ‘crack’ the wheel nuts while the wheel is still on the ground. (It’s much easier to loosen the nuts slightly while the wheel can’t rotate.)

Jack up the wheel very slowly, checking that the jack is rising vertically and not slewing to one side. With the tyre clear of the ground by just enough to fit the space wheel and tyre in place you can undo the wheel nuts.

The tricky bit is getting the wheel and tyre off and the spare wheel and tyre in place, without straining your back.

You can make this lifting and locating operation much safer by using leverage under the tyre, rather than lifting it from a crouching or sitting position.

For leverage you can use a short shovel, tyre lever or wheel brace.

To get the wheel off the hub, put your lever under the tyre and lift the lever so that the wheel centre and stud holes can clear the hub. Tilt the top of the wheel towards you and when it’s clear roll it to one side.

To fit the spare wheel, wriggle it in place in front of the hub, with holes lined up with the stud positions. Wriggle the bottom edge inwards and stand it up and check that the stud holes are still lined up. Poke the end of your lever under the bottom of the tyre and lift the free end of the lever to raise the wheel and tyre into position on the hub and studs.

Spin on the topmost nut and it’ll hold the wheel upright while you spin on the other nuts.

Tighten the nuts sequentially in a staggered, criss-cross pattern until they’re snug enough to centre the nut tapers in the stud holes, then lower the jack slowly and give them a final, staggered-pattern tighten, with the tyre on the ground.

Don’t forget to stow the removed wheel and tyre in its designated position.

After a few kilometres driving, stop and retighten the wheel nuts.


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