June 5, 2023

Should I tighten the tires when changing tires? What industry professionals recommend

It’s a ritual that Canadians perform every year as the end of autumn approaches.

Soon, drivers across the country will be taking off the dusty winter tires and tossing them into their cars before the snow arrives.

When it comes to safety, there are several things drivers should consider when making sure their vehicle’s wheels are properly secured.

Many shops will tighten the customer’s tires for free – that is, check each wheel nut for too loose or too tight – after a certain distance after a tire change. Others may not recommend it at all.

But as some point out, when to tighten varies depending on who you ask, while cleaning is one aspect that drivers sometimes overlook.


CTVNews.ca reached out to several auto service companies and industry associations to get their thoughts on when and why you should re-tighten your wheels after a tire change.

Most recommendations ranged from 50 kilometers of driving after a tire change to more than 100 or 150 kilometers.

The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) said in a statement that most unintended wheel detachments while riding are caused by a fastener failure or loosening of the nuts or bolts holding the wheel in place.

The CAA recommends that drivers re-tighten their vehicle’s wheels within 100 and 150 km after a tire change, clean the mating surfaces of the rim and hub and check that the correct fasteners are used and tightened correctly.

The spokesman said that this recommendation should be used as a general rule of thumb and that some service providers may suggest an earlier point of repair depending on the assessment of the vehicle.

Charley Kriksic, vice president of the Tire Dealers Association (TDAC), said in his statement that the tightening torque should be done according to the vehicle manufacturer’s instructions within a radius of 50 and 70 kilometers.

The spokesman added that TDAC is working with the Tire Industry Association of the United States, which has conducted studies and worked with tire manufacturers on when retorques should be done.

“Although the industry’s recommendation may vary, some say the tightening torque should take place before 100 kilometers, TDAC, together with other provincial tire associations, gives its recommendation based on the instructions and information of the Tire Industry Association,” the spokesman said in a statement.

Greg Lawrence, director of Ontario-based Active Green + Ross Complete Tire & Auto Centre, said that while the torque is usually done within 100 km or seven days, “It really doesn’t matter.”

He said some stay-at-home customers might take a month to drive 100km, while others like him could drive up to 200km daily to and from work.

“It’s a store-by-store decision,” he said in an email to CTVNews.ca.


While a refresh can help, it’s not the only thing drivers should watch out for.

Lawrence told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview Tuesday that there is no harm in making another retorque.

However, drivers should consider cleaning the contact points between the wheels and the hub assembly from oil and dirt.

“Corrosion builds up in that gap over time, and if it’s not cleaned out, you can tighten the wheels as often as you want, but they won’t … seat properly, and that causes the tires to come off,” he said. . “It’s not necessarily a question of wheel torque.”

The problem is more visible with alloy wheels than with steel, Lawrence said, the latter of which does not corrode as strongly or as often.

“But even if it’s just a light sanding or a light cleaning of the surfaces, sometimes they’re very rusty if the wheels haven’t been off for many years, and then cleaning them becomes a bigger task. But that’s the only reason we’ve seen wheels that come off or come off,” he said.

There may be an additional charge for cleaning, and drivers can ask their garage if they clean the counter surfaces before putting the wheels back on the vehicle.

Something else drivers should consider, Lawrence added, is whether the shop uses calibrated manual torque wrenches, which he favors to get the right torque. It is equally important to make sure that the correct wheel nuts are in place.

“If you put on the wrong wheel nut, you can clean it and tighten it all you want, but it won’t fit properly. So even something as simple as a wheel nut has a lot of planning behind it.”

Chris Reynolds, a field specialist and vice-president of advertising for Canada Drives, said retreading would help if the temperature drops dramatically a few days after a tire change or the driver goes over a hard crash, both of which can affect the vehicle’s lug nuts. .

Even if you don’t change the tires, taking turns can give someone an excuse to check the tires, he said.

And then there’s making sure your tires have enough tread, which Reynolds says a simple toonie test could help determine.

“If you never change a tire, which is also the scenario, I recommend going at least once a year and taking it in for service and getting it checked out,” he said.


A Kal Tire spokesperson said in a statement that the company performed a torque check after 50 km of installation or the next business day.

Now it happens immediately after installation to prevent a situation where the driver might forget to follow.

“While driving a distance reveals poor joint alignment, there are other ways to determine when this problem occurs,” the spokesman said.

After removing the wheels, inspecting the components and cleaning the mating surfaces, the spokeswoman said the lug nuts were tightened below the recommended torque and are still being hand-tightened while the vehicle is suspended.

“Before handing over the vehicle to the customer, we lower the vehicle from its suspended position and repeat the common mediation process, in the same way as when driving the vehicle,” the spokesman said.

“We then re-tighten the lug nuts by hand as instructed. During the final torque check on the vehicle’s wheels, if we find that the lug nuts are loose, we bring the vehicle back in and do the whole process again.”

For drivers fitting winter tires and rims at home, the spokesman says it is highly recommended to check the torque during the first 50km.

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