Changing wheels

With the coming of the E39 530i, it’s the first time in more than 10 years that I have owned separate winter and summer sets of tyres and wheels for a car. Not wanting to deal with the hassle of driving to a workshop to have them change the wheels, something that I can easily do myself, I acquired the necessary tools. You want at least the following:

  • A good hydraulic jack. Buy the best you can afford. The lightweight €30 ones you see at Aldi and Lidl are crap. Mine is an extra-low two-piston design that should also fit under lowered cars and raises the car very quickly. Maximum weight is limited to two tons, but I don’t like SUVs so it doesn’t matter. It still weighs 30kg, which I take as a sign of quality, and cost €120.
  • A 1/2″ breaker bar, for loosening the bolts – get the longest you can get, mine’s 60cm.
  • A 1/2″ torque wrench that covers the required torque range (around 120Nm).
  • The properly sized socket (17mm for my car).
  • Some acid-free grease to lube the centering ring, not the hub itself.
  • A wire brush to clean the hub, which will make it easier to get the wheels off half a year from now.
  • Ideally, a cordless impact wrench. But the good ones are expensive, the cheap ones are a waste of money. I instead got an adapter from hex to 1/2″ to use with my cordless drill, which has enough power to unscrew the bolts after they have been loosened with the breaker bar, and tightens them just enough to fully tighten them with the torque wrench.
  • Gloves

If you take the proper safety precautions, such as telling them where they are allowed to stand and what they are allowed to touch, changing wheels is a great way to get the kids involved. Here’s my three-year-old son trying to jack up the car:

And my daughter removing the bolts. Be sure to hold the wheel in place when the final bolt is removed.

She’s very proud of being able to read and write, so I asked to mark the right rear tyre with “RA” (rechts achter = right rear). She promptly marked all eight tyres in the same way. 😀 I cleaned the summer wheels before storing them stacked in the shed. Don’t forget to re-tighten the bolts with the torque wrench after 50km to 100km of driving.

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