Tire Rack.com

How to Install Your Tire & Wheel Package

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It usually takes only minutes to install tires and wheels on your vehicle; but remember, they'll probably be on for 3,000 miles or more and will roll over a million times before it's time to rotate them. To make those miles as pleasant as possible, you need to install your new Tire & Wheel Package correctly.

Check Tire Positions

If you selected directional tires and/or asymmetric tires, before installing them, match each tire and wheel to its final position on your vehicle. To prevent mistakes, actually set each wheel and tire around your vehicle just as race teams do for pit stops.

Install New Pairs of Tires on the Rear Axle

When tires are replaced in pairs, the new, deeper treaded tires should always be installed on the rear axle and the partially worn tires installed on the front. New tires installed on the rear axle help the driver more easily maintain control on wet roads because new, deeper treaded tires are more capable of resisting hydroplaning.

NOTE: If your vehicle uses two different tire sizes, be sure to alert your installer.


Refer to the rotation arrow branding on the tire's sidewall. The arrow indicates the direction in which the tire should turn.


All tires should show sidewall branding indicating side facing outward.

Tire lettering highlight in yellow for illustrative purposes only.


Look for "Side Facing Outwards" branding and rotation arrow to determine side of vehicle.

Photo A Photo B Photo C Photo D

Begin Installation

The best place to find the correct procedure for tire and wheel removal is in the owner's manual for your vehicle.

Step 1: To remove your old wheels and tires, break the lug nuts or bolts loose before raising the vehicle. We recommend using hand tools exclusively (Photo A). When removing wheel hardware, a power wrench may be used with extreme care, but should not be used to torque lug nut hardware. It is best to carefully remove lugs with a four-way wrench or a socket on a breaker bar. An impact wrench may damage the lugs or the studs.

Step 2: Raise your vehicle slightly with a jack (Photo B), and support the lifted vehicle with jack stands (if available). Be sure to use your jack and jack stands only on a flat, level surface when working on your vehicle. Remove your old wheels and tires.

Step 3: Test fit each wheel in its final position. Check for proper fit as described below.

NOTE: If you only purchased wheels, it is imperative that test fitting is done prior to mounting the tires.

ATTENTION: Check the condition of the vehicle's lug studs or wheel bolts as you loosen and tighten them. If you feel any resistance or see any roughness after removing the wheels, correct it before reinstalling the wheels. Most automotive stores sell taps and thread repair kits. Wheels must fit flat against the vehicle's hubs. Remove any rust and dirt from the mounting surface of brake rotors and drums. Remove any temporary retaining devices, like stud clips. These are used to hold brake rotors and drums in place before the wheels were installed at the factory (Photo C). These will keep the wheels from fitting flush against the brake hubs. Some vehicles have indicator or locator pins on the hub (Photo D). These are on the hub to aid the indexing of the wheel when it is on the vehicle assembly line. These can be found on some Volvo, Nissan and Infiniti models. They do not perform any other function and should also be removed from the hub before mounting your new wheels. The exception to this rule: large bolts holding Hyundai rotors to their hubs should not be removed. If aftermarket wheels have previously been used on the vehicle, verify that the previous wheel's hub centering rings have been removed from the hubs. If your vehicle is equipped with drum brakes and if the drum's outer flange or balance weights protrude further out than the center of the drum, verify that the wheel seats on the hub are not against the drum's outer flange or balance weights. If you have any questions, contact your sales specialist or Tire Rack's customer service department.

Step 4: Check the fit of the wheel onto the hub of the vehicle. Some wheel applications may require the use of a centering ring to create the proper fit onto the hub. The bolt circle of the wheel must match that of your vehicle and the wheel must make full contact to the mating surface of the hub. If the wheel does not match up to the bolt circle of the vehicle, or the wheel does not have full contact to the mounting surface, please contact your sales specialist or our customer service department at 888-981-3953.

Step 5: In order to verify that you have matching lug or bolt thread sizes, first install the lug nuts or bolts without the wheel. If you feel resistance while doing this, inspect the lug stud and nut (or hub and bolt) to see if the threads are clean or obstructed. If the lug nut or bolt appears obstructed or does not match the thread pitch of your hubs, try another one. If another lug doesn't thread any better, give us a call. We will verify that you have the correct hardware for your application.

NOTE: Do not force your lug nuts or bolts on with a wrench. They should be able to be turned by hand. If they can't, something is wrong! Please call Tire Rack's customer service department at 888-981-3953. Only after the lugs have been installed by hand until "finger tight" should you snug them down with your four-way wrench or a socket on a breaker bar.

Size of Bolt or StudNumber of Turns
12x1.5mm 6.5

NOTE: Since the thickness of an alloy wheel can differ from Original Equipment wheels, also verify that the lug nuts or bolts will engage the threads. Refer to the chart (at right) to determine the number of turns or the depth of engagement typical for your stud or bolt size.

Step 6: For the next inspections it will be necessary to temporarily install the wheel by snugging down the lug nuts or bolts in order to verify disc brake caliper clearance. You should have at least 3-4mm of clearance between your wheels and the brakes on the vehicle.

Step 7: Put your vehicle's transmission into neutral and turn each wheel by hand while making certain that the outer edge of the disc brake caliper doesn't touch the inside of the rim or that the side of the caliper doesn't come into contact with the backside of the wheel or the wheel balancing weights.

Once you have completed your test fit, we suggest removing the wheel and applying a thin coating of anti-seize around the axle hubs to help prevent rust and permit easier removal when it's time to rotate your tires. Do not apply anti-seize compound to the lug hardware or studs.

If you have any concerns...CALL US! We will be happy to help you solve your problem.

Step 8: Proper installation requires that the wheel lug torque be set to the recommended specification for your vehicle. These torque specifications can be found in your vehicle's owner's manual, shop repair manual or obtained from your vehicle dealer. Finish tightening the lugs down with an accurate torque wrench. Use a crisscross sequence until they have reached their proper torque value. Be careful because if you over-torque a wheel, you can strip a lug nut, stretch or break a wheel stud, and cause the wheel, brake rotor and/or brake drum to distort.

While new wheel installation isn't difficult – it's no harder than changing a flat tire - it is necessary to take the necessary safety precautions. If you aren't purchasing new wheels and need tire installation only, please select one of our Recommended Installers or use one of your local tire dealers. We do not recommend doing your own tire changing (dismounting and mounting the tire) or flat tire repairs. This should be left for properly trained technicians.

NOTE: After installing new wheels you should re-torque your lug hardware after the first 50 to 100 miles of driving. This is necessary because as the wheels are breaking in they may compress slightly allowing their lugs to lose some of their torque. Simply repeat the same torque procedure listed above. For more information, read our Wheel Tech article, "Bolt Pattern."

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