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When changing tires, on a front wheel drive vehicle with alloy rims, the parking break on, and entire front or back end lifted: after hand tightening the nuts, can they be torqued to spec off the ground, then re-torqued after lowering?

Or should they only be tightened partially off the ground, and torqued once after lowering? Assume the appropriate tightening pattern is being used in either case.

I've seen various takes on this, with some suggesting torqueing off the ground is a problem or risk, but I've never seen a good explanation why (except from people who don't seem to have the parking break on so the tire spins on them).

I'm looking for specific details on why one or both of these methods may or may not be safe/ok to use.

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  • No, finger tight is not enough, because as you approach the maximum torque, the wheel itself starts turning a bit, which keeps you from getting the necessary torque by hand. If you tighten without a torque wrench, then do it on the ground. – Alex Nov 29 '20 at 22:43
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For the technical purposes of things, it really wouldn't matter whether you torque them on or off the ground. The wheel would be torqued without issue. The reason you should torque them on the ground is a safety concern. You are putting a large amount of twisting force on the wheel, which in turn is applied throughout the vehicle. This force is enough to dislodge a vehicle off of a jackstand or off of a jack, which puts your vehicle at risk of damage and could cause injury or death to you (or anyone around you). Why would you run any of the risk when you can put it on the ground easy enough and get the torque done?

Also, you state to "re-torque after lowering" ... if you are going to torque it in the air and then again on the ground, why not just do it on the ground and not go through the motions twice? It would be a waste of time and energy.

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  • Great points, thanks. I guess I had the idea that putting weight back on the wheels necessitates re-torqueing, similar to how they recommend re-torqueing after driving a bit. Is finger tight enough in the air? – Cameron Roberts Nov 29 '20 at 16:39
  • By the way, this question actually came up by accident, I was putting my winters on and torqued it while it was still up, I only re-torqued it on the ground because I thought it might matter somehow, torqueing twice wasn't the plan going in, usually I do it once on the ground. But it got me wondering... – Cameron Roberts Nov 29 '20 at 16:55

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