Easy Car Maintenance: Loosen a Rusted Wheel

Follow our do-it-yourself car maintenance tips to remove a rusted-on wheel using rust penetrant, a hand maul and a block of wood. Then prevent future rusting with anti-seize lubricant.

Apply Penetrating Fluid

You were all psyched up for a quick tire rotation-until you found a rusted-on wheel. Here’s how to “unstick” a wheel: you’ll need a block of  2×2 wood, a can of spray rust penetrant and a hand maul. (You can pick these up at any auto centre or car accessories department.)

Jack up the car , support it with jack stands and remove the lug nuts. 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. Screw one lug nut onto a stud a few turns to prevent the tire from flying off once it’s free.

Knock the Wheel Free

Place the end of the piece of wood 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

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.

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