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Freeing Up a Rusted Wheel

Remove a tire stuck on a car without harming the rim

FH07JAU_RUSWHE_01-2Family Handyman
Remove a rusted-on wheel with rust penetrant, a hand maul and a block of wood. Prevent rusting with anti-seize lubricant.

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Free a rusted wheel

How to Fix a Tire Stuck on Car Photo 1: Apply penetrating fluid

Spray a generous amount of rust penetrant into each mounting hole. Let it sit for five minutes. Rotate the tire a half turn and reapply the spray.

How to Fix a Tire Stuck on Car Photo 2: Knock the wheel free

Place the wood near the edge of the wheel and give it a good smack. Rotate the tire a quarter turn and hit it again. Repeat until the wheel breaks free.

You were all psyched up for a quick tire rotation—until you found a rusted-on wheel. Here’s how to “unstick” a wheel and prevent it from sticking again.

You’ll need an 18-in. length of 2×2, a can of spray rust penetrant and a hand maul. Jack up the car, support it with jack stands and remove the lug nuts. Spray the rust penetrant generously into each mounting hole. Let it sit for five minutes, then rotate the tire a half turn and repeat the application. Screw one lug nut onto a stud a few turns to prevent the tire from flying off once it’s free. Place the end of the 2×2 on the outer edge of the wheel and smack the wood with the maul, just enough to create some breaking force and vibration. Rotate the tire a quarter turn and repeat the smack/rotate procedure until the wheel is free.

Prevent wheel sticking

Photo 3: Coat the mounting surfaces

Clean the rust penetrant and surface rust from the mounting surfaces. Then apply a light coat of anti-seize lubricant.

Photo 3A: Close-up of anti-seize lubricant

This special lubricant stops rust.

Clean the mounting surface on the brake drum/rotor or hub with a wire brush. Then coat the surface (never the studs) with a light coat of anti-seize lubricant.

Check out how to change a car tire in the video below.

Required Tools for this how to fix a tire stuck on car project

You’ll need a lug wrench, leather gloves and a hand maul.

Required Materials for this how to fix a tire stuck on a car project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • Anti-seize lubricant
  • Rust penetrant