As this article is intended primarily for those who replace their car before each season, people on all-season tires do not need to read on and can open another article instead. But seriously now. Although it may seem that the craze of annually switching to winter tires in the fall and then to summer tires in the spring began when it became a legal obligation to have winter tires on your car in certain conditions, the tradition of winter and summer tires began long before that.

People are so used to having two sets of wheels. Someone solves it with just tires that they swap on the same set of rims. Nobody does this at home anymore. Putting a tire on a rim is not that difficult, but it is quite a chore to remove it without the necessary tools. The safest thing to do is contact a tire repair shop, which not only has a “shoe” but also a balancer. You can’t do without it (although of course there are ingenious methods to balance your wheels yourself).

If you have two different full-size sets of wheels, nothing prevents you from swapping them yourself with the normal equipment of the garage (and car) and you don’t have to book a service. But even with this seemingly trivial activity, you can do more harm than good if you don’t prepare the equipment and start doing it somewhere outside on the grass. So how to do it and what will you need?

Which will always come in handy

Compressor should be part of the basic equipment of every responsible motorist’s garage, who monitors the tire pressure and regularly adjusts it according to the needs and conditions of the vehicle’s operation (lower pressure for terrain, a fully loaded car needs to be inflated more, etc.). Anyone who has several cars at home, takes care of vehicles for other people in the family and friends, or has a garden machine with tires and other carts whose wheels need to be inflated, certainly cannot imagine their life without it.

Photo: Škoda Auto

While it is quite easy to put a tire on a rim at home, taking it off the rim is already hard work. And if you have runflats, forget about home attempts. It is always better to leave this to a tire repair shop that has the necessary equipment.

A high-quality compressor for home use can easily be bought for three thousand crowns, compressors with a larger volume for blowing work machines or driving garage accessories with compressed air cost six to ten thousand. A high-quality and accurate meter and other accessories are essential. But even regular compressors have enough quality parts that you can use them to inflate tires more accurately and reliably than with most pumps where the hose is permanently missing, the valve attachment is leaking and the gauge is not showing accurately.

Another useful helper is torque wrench, which is suitable for precise tightening of wheel nuts or bolts according to the prescribed force. An ordinary one costs about a thousand, more comfortable and larger two to three thousand. If anything, buy a long “moment” so that you have a good leverage when loosening the screws. In addition to digital torque wrenches, there are also fully mechanical ones that are perfectly sufficient for home use a few times a year. But we recommend those that can be calibrated regularly, or at least come with a certificate of accuracy. Some cheap torque wrenches take a 20 Nm variance, and that’s quite a big deviation for accurate wheel tightening.

It’s not even good quality hydraulic lifter. Today, unfortunately, some cars do not even have an emergency lever in the basic equipment. A hydraulic jack will also save you effort and time. A decent one with a load capacity of 2,000 to 2,500 kg can be bought for around two thousand, and you can easily transport a van with it. Extensions for properly attaching the car’s lifting points can also be useful, as they are not the same for all cars.

How to change the car properly yourself

  • Park the car on a flat surface with a solid surface (so not like in the cover photo somewhere on the grass).
  • Prepare the tools you will need and make sure you have everything (torque wrench, sockets, cleaner, spray to help loosen stuck screws, wire brush, functional jack).
  • Thoroughly check the tires/wheels you will be putting on. Check the tire pressure and inflate them before changing them. If any wheel is empty, you run the risk of excessive air leakage somewhere during operation and need to be replaced.
  • Loosen all wheel bolts while the car is still on the ground. A long lever, such as the longer torque wrench just mentioned, will facilitate the release.
  • Only use a jack intended for your car, or one that has the necessary attachments. Lift the car only at points designated for this purpose by the manufacturer.
  • You can put a wheel or at least a log under the car as a safety insurance. You never know when hever will give up. And the law of approval says that at the exact moment when your legs, arms or half of your body is under the car. You can also lock the wheels on the opposite side of the wedge to be safe.
  • Put the screws from the wheels in a box so you don’t roll them on the ground in dust and dirt. Clean them with a brush.
  • Clean the wheel hub and seating surfaces with a wire brush. With the wheels off, check the brakes and suspension.
  • Mount the wheel straight, grasp the thread before tightening. Tighten the bolts a little while the car is still on the jack, but with less force. The point is that your bike doesn’t move after you put it on the ground and you didn’t tighten it crookedly. Tighten them with a torque wrench when you lower the car to the ground.
  • Check the tire pressure again and reset the settings before driving on cars with TPMS. The procedure for doing this can be found in the vehicle’s owner’s manual. As a rule, it takes a few kilometers to completely reset the system.
  • Drive carefully for the first few kilometers, test the controls and brakes well. After the test drive, recheck the wheel tightening with a torque wrench.
  • Before storing the second set of wheels, clean, inflate and treat the rims and tires with a preservative. Then store the bikes in a flat, dry, dark and ideally cooler place.

When you have done everything, cleaned up the tools after yourself and driven the car, we recommend that you go around the car the next day after your normal trip to work and re-check that all the screws are tight. Sometimes it happens that the wheels sit still a little and it is necessary to tighten a few screws by a quarter of a turn.

Photo: Jan Majurník

Dismounted wheels are a great opportunity to thoroughly check the brakes and clean, for example, the rear drums (which should be done at least once a year). Also check the brake hoses, the fastening of the chassis parts and, of course, the condition of the wires to the ABS contacts and other sensors. The detailers then thoroughly clean the wheel arches, fender edges and other hard-to-reach places.

Common mistakes of changing shoes at home

  • You don’t prepare all the necessary tools and you don’t check the tires you’re going to put on the car before changing them. In the middle of changing the shoes, you find out that you are putting on a completely empty wheel with a defective valve or maybe a bulge on the sidewall.
  • You rush, you throw screws on the ground in the dust and dirt, you don’t proceed systematically, you don’t concentrate on work. And then perhaps you forget to tighten some of the screws on the wheel or you put the wheels on backwards against the direction of rotation. Or you put in the back a dimension that belongs in the front.
  • You don’t tidy up after work. And then in half a year, when you change your shoes again, you are surprised that you can’t find the “nut” of the safety bolts of the wheels and that the wheels that you just threw in the corner are dirty, disgusting and cut.