Changing a tire is never fun, and is rarely easy. Somehow, tires always seem to go flat when it's raining, snowing, or when you're in a hurry. Things get even worse, however, when you can't even get the tire off to start with. Wheel nuts, or lug nuts, are notoriously difficult to move in the first place. If your tires haven't been changed in the last couple of years, or if they were put on by a garage using power equipment, they're going to be even harder to remove. So what can you do to unscrew wheel nuts that are on too tight? Here are a few tips.
Always start by lubing the lug nuts if it's possible. Squirting a little WD-40 or other brand of lubricant will always help. There are even lubricants that are specially designed for the job. Cover the nut in oil, getting as close to the base of the nut as possible. If you have the time, leave it to sit overnight. Then try undoing them again. Sometimes this is all you need to do the trick.
Another simple trick that you can try is hammering the nut a couple of times. Knock the hammer on the side of the nut two or three times, then try unscrewing it. This works on the same principle as tapping the lid of a jar on the side of the kitchen counter. It doesn't always work, but it's easy to do and worth a try.
Gloves and Elastic
Trying to improve the friction on the surface of the nut can help too. Try wearing work gloves to give you more friction in your hands. Some people swear by twisting an elastic band around the nut, and then unscrewing it. Again, these don't always work, but they are simple to do, so it might be worth giving them a go.
Because of the way physics works, having a longer lever gives you more power. If you can find a hollow bar that fits over the handle of your wrench, this is a very effective method. Simply attach the wrench to the lug nut, slip the metal bar over the handle of the wrench, thus giving you a much longer handle, and put your weight on the far end of the metal bar to try and twist it.
This is a little dangerous, but if you're truly stuck you can try it. Heat the nut using a propane torch. Be careful that you centre the heat over the nut itself, and not on the outside edges. The idea is that the heat causes the outside of the nut to expand faster than the screw inside, thus loosening it. You should try and turn the nut while it's still hot. But be careful. If you do this while the metal is very hot, and slightly sticky, you're going to end up with your wrench welded to the nut. And obviously, be careful because the metal is hot, don't touch it with your bare hands.
Get the Professionals
It's a last ditch attempt, but if nothing else has worked, you don't really have a choice. Garages and service stations will have power tools to take off stuck wheel nuts. You simply can't get the same power from home tools. And there's a good possibility that it was the garage that put the wheel nuts on too tight in the first place, using the same power tools, so it's only fair that they should help take them off again, right?