When you replace your tire, your mechanic would probably tell you to bring your vehicle back the next day or two to work on the tire. What they are indirectly telling you is they want to retorque your tires. The question is, is it necessary to retorque your tires, and if yes, how do you go about it?
Retorquing your tire is a necessary car maintenance practice done one or two days after replacing the tire.
This is to make necessary adjustments, such as retightening or loosening the lug nuts that might have responded to the vehicle’s weight, driving rotational effects, and nudges from bumps within the period.
This piece explains why it is important to retorque your tires, what might happen if you fail to retorque tires, and a step-by-step guide on how to retorque your tires.
How To Retorque Your Tire
Your mechanic will tell you to retorque your tires at most two days after replacing them. However, mileage is a metric you need to consider to know when to retorque your tires.
It is advised that you retorque your tires after driving for 50-100 miles.
Interestingly, you can retorque your tires yourself, even without visiting a mechanic workshop. Here are simple steps to retorque your tires:
- Durable Ratchet Head: Made from Hardened Chrome Vanadium steel
- Torque up to 10~150 ft./lb., 13.6 ~ 203.5 N/m
- Easy Storage: A sturdy plastic storage case is included.
- Easy to Read: High Contrast & Dual Range Scale.
- Accurate: Pre-Calibrated to ± 4%
- Accessories included: 1/2" Drive 5" Extension Bar and 1/2" to 3/8" Drive Reducer
- Simple and Reliable: “Click” sound tells the preset torque value is reached.
Step 1: Know the Specified Torque for Your Vehicle
Your first task when retorquing your tire is to know the specified torque for your vehicle, as manufacturers specify different torque for each vehicle. Finding out the specified torque for your vehicle shouldn’t be a hassle.
While you can source this information on your owner’s manual, a quick Google search with your car’s model will put you on the right track.
Step 2: Select the Right Torque Wrench Size
The two measurements for torque are pound-feet (lb-ft) and Newton-meter (Nm). Though some people are more familiar with using “feet-pound”, the correct form is “pound-feet”. However, while this doesn’t matter, the correct one to use between pound-feet (lb-ft) and Newton-meter (Nm) depends on your region.
Also, torque wrenches are available in different sizes, and which one to choose depends on your torque and other requirements. As such, when selecting a torque wrench for retorquing your tire, you want to consider the size of the torque wrench (the stud) and the range of torque support.
For example, while you can choose a ¼” torque wrench that offers an average torque range of 20-200lbs-in for your smaller nuts and bolts, a ½” torque wrench is ideal for lug nuts of regular and larger wheels since it provides an average torque range of 20-200 lbs-ft.
Also, if you are dealing with lug nuts of smaller wheels, use a 3/8” torque wrench with 10-80 lbs-ft.
Step 3: Set the Torque Wrench to the Correct Torque
The next step in using a torque wrench in retorquing your tires is to set the tool to the required torque. This setup aims to tell your torque wrench what torque you want for tightening your lug nuts.
Start by loosening the knob at the far end of the handle. Loosening this knob allows you to set the tool to the required torque.
Continue by rotating the middle knob until the 0 line aligns with the required torque calibrated on the tool.
Once the 0 lime aligns with the required torque, tighten the far-end knob to keep the setup in position. With this, you are set to use your torque wrench for retorquing your tires according to the preset torque.
Step 4: Tighten the Lug Nuts
Putting the socket on the drive, tighten the lug nuts. Continue tightening until you hear a click sound, meaning you have reached the desired torque and should stop. Next, proceed to other lug nuts and do the same, ensuring that you stop with a click sound for each lug nut.
However, when retorquing your tires, there are precautions to take, and one is the sequence of tightening the nuts. One mistake people often make is to tighten the nuts with the wrong sequence. This should be avoided. The correct pattern to tighten your lug nuts depends on how many nuts your wheel has.
If you are tightening a four-nut wheel, follow a cross pattern. For example, when you start from the top nut, you move to the bottom nut and repeat the same for the other two nuts (instead of a top-right-bottom-left pattern or the other way round).
Similarly, if your wheel has five or ten nuts, tighten them following a star-shaped pattern.
Also worth noting is that this guide uses a clicker-style torque wrench with a sound indicator. There are other types of torque wrenches with different forms of indicators.
While working with a clicker torque wrench is more fun and easier, you can choose whichever torque wrench that works best for you. The idea is to follow the steps and pay attention to the indicator.
Why Should You Retorque Your Tires?
First, it is important to note that retorquing a tire has nothing to do with whether the newly installed tire is new or old. Whether you have just installed a new or old tire, it is ideal to retorque it after driving up to 50 miles.
When your mechanic installs a new tire, they ensure that the lug nuts are tightened to the vehicle’s required specification. However, the problem is, as you drive the vehicle out of their workshop, the lug nuts can loosen or tighten due to stress from the driving conditions, such as nudges from bumpy roads and warming and cooling effect.
Also, there is the possibility of your mechanic making errors during the initial installation. This is common and is usually a result of dirt and grit particles between nuts and wheels that can interrupt the reading. Hence, a retorque will give your mechanic room to make necessary adjustments.
With all this, you want to retorque your tires. Gladly, while you can undertake this task yourself, it also takes a short time to complete. Your shop will usually offer this service for free.
Effects of Not Retorque Your Tires
Having seen why it is necessary to retorque your tires, it is equally important to learn what happens if you fail to retorque them.
Failure to retorque your tires exposes them to some form of damage. For example, if your lug nuts are too tightened, the rotors and hub can warp, and fasteners can break. Also, an over-tightened lug nut can damage the thread.
The worst scenario is loosened lug nuts, a potential cause of a crash. When the lug nuts are not adequately tightened, they can loosen up on the road, causing the tire to detach and go on its own, leading the vehicle into a crash. This is scary, and you want to avoid it at all costs.
Though the probability of this happening is very low, since you don’t want to compromise your family’s safety, you don’t want to sleep on retorquing your tires.
When Should You Retorque Your Tires?
The question of when to retorque your tire has been answered in the previous sections of the piece. However, it is worth emphasizing that retorque is needed between one or two days of reinstalling another tire. Also, another answer to when to retorque your tire is “after 50-100 miles”.
Also worth emphasizing is that retorquing is not needed only when a new tire is installed. It is equally important to retorque your newly installed old tires. This means that even when your mechanic has a reason to remove your old tire and replace it again during a servicing period, you want to take the time and retorque it.
Can You Retorque Your Tires Yourself?
While you can take your vehicle back to your mechanic and get the tires retorqued, you can take the DIY route and retorque your tire yourself. However, while a torque stick can be optional, you need a torque wrench to complete the task.
A torque wrench is a useful tool in the hands of every mechanic in applying a specific torque to bolts, nuts, and fasteners, but you need it to retorque the lug nuts in this DIY task.
Though a torque stick might not be necessary when retorquing a tire manually, it is handy when retorquing your lug nuts with an impact gun. An impact gun is prone to over-torque the lug nuts, and applying a torque stick helps prevent this.
What to do next
Retorquing your tires/lug nuts is an important vehicle maintenance tip that shouldn’t be neglected. After a day or two of installing a tire, you must retorque it to ensure it is properly tightened. Note that a mistake in tightening your lug nuts can loosen them or damage the threading.
While you can take your vehicle back to your mechanic to retorque the lug nuts, you can take the DIY route. Gladly, it is what you can complete on your own with a torque wrench. Plus, retorquing your tire doesn’t take much time.
We hope you enjoyed this article and found it informative. If you have any questions then please leave a comment below or get in touch via email or through social media and we will read and respond to every comment, email or question. Thanks for reading!