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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking to upgrade my tool box for changing out my snow tires every year.

I'm using a socket set now, with a torque wrench, but it's too slow. An old school cross lug wrench would be best, but the winter wheels need a thin wall deep socket, and I haven't found a cross wrench that fits. I could get one welded up, but I'd like to avoid that.

The other choice is an impact wrench, but I don't have compressed air and I'm afraid a a battery powered one wouldn't be strong enough or that the battery wouldn't last long enough to finish the job every time. (I need to do 8 wheels.) OTOH an impact wrench with a torque stick would be the fastest way to get it done.

Any suggestions?
 

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2018 Mazda 3 GT
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Torque Sticks

And have a backup battery charged. Should do the trick.
CK
 

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I love these sockets from Performance Tool. Thin-walled, impact, teflon insert inside and outside to prevent scratching of the wheels. At first I was skeptical because anything anodized with different colors tells me "bling over function". But they are great.

Highly recommended a cordless impact wrench from Milwaukee. I have a bigger 1/2" impact from them that is way more than enough for wheels, but I got in for the worst bolts on the car and it has ample power. I didn't think that was possible with a battery operated tool. Next one I'd get would be the compact 3/8" cordless for using in tighter spaces. The power of even a compact wrench from them is impressive. The model is 2767-22 and it comes with a case, charger for 12V and 18V batteries, and two batteries. It's a beast with 1400ft-lbs of loosening torque. There are four settings for different torque ranges. On one setting (best for wheel lugs!) it uses full torque and rpm to break the lug nut loose, and then immediately switches to a low rpm setting to spin the lug nut off the rest of the way. Normally $409; got it on sale at Home Depot on a black friday deal for $269. There is a "100ft-lbs" torque setting too. I suppose theoretically you could put on lug nuts this way, but I don't trust an impact wrench to do the final tightening. I always use a torque wrench for the final 1/4 turn.
 

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I won't use impact guns on my rims. The point is not to get it done as fast as possible but to get it done right without banging up the rims. An impact gun will do that before you can stop it if the socket slips off the nut or wobbles a bit even for an instant, especially on expansive aftermarket rims with tight lug wells. Loosening of the lugs I do with a 3/4" drive ratchet handle (its only 85 or so ft/lbs so its not like its hard to do), then just use the socket to spin off the nuts. I suppose you could use a small T-handle to do this, its pretty easy. Installation is the reverse, tighten by hand using the socket then use a torque wrench.
Never trust torque sticks as they are just "maybe in the ball park" unless your impact is calibrated to use them. Ever wonder why the lugs are so tight they break after a trip to the tire shop? If you are going to use a torque stick to get it tight and finish it with a torque wrench, there isn't really any point in using it anyhow. You can set the gun to its minimum setting and zip the nut on without getting it tight.
 

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removing them with the impact is a good deal. Installing them with an impact is kind of on the stupid side as it's easy to overtighten. No need for a torque wrench, But a good breaker bar will suffice. If you've been removing them and installing them for a while you know how tight they need to be just based on feel. Personally, I set my impact to the lowest setting when putting on the nuts and highest when removing.
 

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Actually, removing them with an impact is when you are most likely to do damage to the rim. As soon as the nut comes off the thread, the socket is free to wobble and move around inside the well. That usually does not end well..:surprise:
 

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I use a 1/2 " breaker bar, with a thin walled deep socket and a 3" extension to loosen the lug nut, then switch to a 1/2" cordless drill with a socket adapter for removal of the lug nut. I also place my hand loosely on the socket during lug nut removal, to make sure it does not bang against the wheel. For installation, I hand start the lug nut then use the cordless drill to tighten the lug nut until it is snug, then use a torque wrench for final tightening. Tightening nuts and bolts by feel is ok, and will not cause many problems (I have rung off many bolts and studs or stripped threads out), but a torque wrench ensures uniform tightness on all nuts and bolts.

https://www.lowes.com/pd/dewalt-soc...91&gclid=CNbSquvc3OMCFciYxQIdnVsCkg&gclsrc=ds
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Here is my tire changing kit.
I use a breaker bar, speed wrench and torque wrench now. I'd rather use a cross wrench than an impact wrench if I have to start it with a breaker bar. I'm trying to get past switching between 3 wrenches.

I couldn't find an impact wrench that was powerful enough and fit my budget, but I found a 20 inch cross wrench at Walmart that works on all my wheels. I had to go there in person because I couldn't find any of the critical dimensions on the internet, even after searching through hundreds of Amazon reviews and FAQs.

Thanks for all the answers.
 

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Personally, I don't really care about some small scuff marks on my wheels. Most of it polishes out anyway. I use a plug in electric impact to remove the wheels. I do have an air one but it's just too much hassle with the compressor just for swapping tires.

Gotta say, I do like the idea of the Teflon sockets though. That's a pretty slick idea. I would like to get some torque limiter bars as well, I just haven't done it yet. They also aren't the cheapest so it's hard to justify when I don't do this all the time and I have a torque wrench anyway.

For putting things back together,I use a very small amount of anti-seize on the studs and then start the lugs one turn by hand. The rest of the slack I take up with the impact. Before you all start going nuts, it's not to tighten. I let it hit the hammer once and stop. It's barely finger tight. After that I finish up with the torque wrench.

Seems we all have our preferences. I really can't knock the other methods you guys are using!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
This was an unreasonably difficult problem, all because Mazda uses 21 mm lug nuts, and because aftermarket wheels don't have enough relief around the lug holes, but I finally solved it.

I didn't get an impact wrench because I don't want to use it with thin wall sockets. I thought a new 4 way wrench would work, but the sockets were still too wide. Then I found a 21 mm 1/2 drive socket with 7/8 hex drive flats on it, and I could use that with the 4 way wrench. Then I thought to glue the socket into it with epoxy, but that would have made the wrench unbalanced when I used it on 19 mm nuts, and I was afraid the epoxy wouldn't hold under load. Then I realized I could drop magnets into the socket on the 4 way wrench, and that would hold the thin wall socket. I epoxied a stack of ceramic magnets the size of about 10 pennies into the socket, and it all works perfectly.

Probably the smarter thing would have been to replace the Mazda lug nuts with 19 mm nuts and get an impact wrench, but I'm happy with what I have.
 

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That is a looong way to go for just removing the lug nuts, which is not a difficult task at all. A proper socket and a sliding 1/2" drive T bar would have solved the problem much more simply. Its a breaker bar and a spinner in one tool, and you can get them in bunch of different sizes.






I don't know why so many people are obsessed with impact wrenches to do this. Its not a race and you really don't want to damage your expensive rims trying to get it done in 4 minutes instead of 5......

Of course, a set of McGard spline drive lug nuts would have eliminated the problem right from the start.......but then again many people won't use them because you can't use an impact gun with the removal socket.....
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
That is a looong way to go for just removing the lug nuts, which is not a difficult task at all. A proper socket and a sliding 1/2" drive T bar would have solved the problem much more simply.
I bent my sliding T-bar removing lug nuts years ago. The 4 way wrench has more leverage, spins more easily and is way cheaper.

You can always go to a catalog and buy something that works. I enjoy figuring out solutions that work a little better for me. I posted this because I'm pleased with how it worked out this time. YMMV.
 

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If you managed to bend a quality 1/2" drive breaker bar removing lug nuts they are on waaaaay to tight. You should not need to put a cheater on a 12" or 18" handle to break loose the nuts unless they are badly corroded. 85 ft/lbs is not that much. Even then if they don't come off you should be using a larger (proper) tool instead of damaging one that is insufficient to do the job. That is where impact guns have their place BTW......BTDT many times......and bent a bunch of 4-ways along the way. They bend a lot easier than a quality tool would..
 
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