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What are Tire Irons?

After loosening the lug nuts, the car could be safely lifted using a car jack.
Tire irons are used when putting a new set of tires on an automobile.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 29 August 2014
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As any driver knows, putting a new set of tires on an automobile requires the use of a tire iron. Essentially a metal device that is used to both remove the nuts that hold the wheel in place as well as separate the tire from the rim, tire irons are part of the standard tools that just about every auto mechanic keeps handy for use. Here is some information about tire irons, and how to use them properly.

In the age before tubeless tires, tire irons were a set of two metal bars that were used to remove a tire from the rim without damaging the inner tube. One end would include a tapered end, while the other would feature a lug wrench for removing the lugs that hold the tires in place on the vehicle. After loosening the lug nuts, the car could be safely lifted using a car jack. One of the tire irons would be used to slide in between the edge of the tire and the rim. Once in place, the second would be used to work around the perimeter of the rim, popping the tire up and over the edge. Once the tire was popped clear of the rim, it was relatively to remove the old one, and then replace the tire with a spare.

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While tire irons are no longer used on the road to change tires, many auto repair shops continue to use them when replacing older tires with new ones. The process is basically the same as in years past. The car is elevated and the lug nuts loosened and removed, allowing the tire and rim to be removed from the vehicle. The tire is then locked into place on a tire platform, where the tire irons are used to remove the old tire from the rim. Once the new tire is placed around the rim, the tire iron is used to move the edges of the tire back into place around the rim, and the tire is inflated. At that point, the tires and rims can be placed back on the wheels of the car, and secured with the lug nuts.

Many people refer to the devices that come as standard equipment on most cars as tire irons. However, those devices are more properly referred to as lug wrenches. Generally, the general public makes little distinction between the two implements, so it is not uncommon to hear that someone changed out flat tires on a vehicle using a tire iron.

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