By Gary Bunzer
Have you ever thought much about how to change a tire? Your answer will depend on your responses 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? Also, the steel plate needs to be big enough to support the jack if you didn’t park on a hard road surface.
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 like 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 and 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 retighten 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 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.
Finally, be sure to check the air on the spare every month, even on your toad.