4WD MODIFICATIONS - TYRES & WHEELS
The Ufixit mob is best know for their excellent windscreen repair kit that we wouldn’t leave home without. However, another Ufixit product is a wheel nut spanner that takes the effort and risk out of loosening wheel nuts.
Tyre fitters and 4WD service outlets often use rattle guns to tighten wheel nuts and often they’re over-tightened. That amount of tension risks elongating and breaking studs, but also makes it very difficult to undo wheel nuts, should you get a flat tyre in the bush.
Even if you have sufficient strength to break the nut’s grip, it’s tricky to keep a wheel brace or socket correctly aligned while applying that force, particularly in the case of dished wheels.
The Ufixit Tyre Ratchet is a twin-bar and ratchet assembly that comes in a case with three nut sockets – 19mm, 21mm and 22mm – and an extension bar.
The technique involves seating the correct socket on the wheel nut and resting a foot on the stabiliser bar, where it touches the ground. Taller, light truck wheels may require a wooden block under the stabiliser bar.
The rubber-grip handle is lowered until the ratchet engages and the handle can then be pulled upwards several times, until the nut loosens.
The Ufixit Tyre Ratchet can be used to tighten wheel nuts as well, by simply reversing the direction of handle movement. Tightening doesn’t require stabiliser bar action, because there’s a risk of over-tightening the nuts.
We used to carry a breaker bar, to undo tight nuts, but now we use the Ufixit tool for general breaker-bar duties, as well as its intended wheel-nut task.
We’ve found another yet another use for the Ufixit tool: to loosen towball nuts that have been over-torqued. (We tow-test different vehicles and often have to swap between 50mm, 70mm, Treg and DO35 couplings, and, invariably, the nuts are done up with a rattle gun.)
Our cure is simple. We remove the tow tongue and insert it back, temporarily sideways, into the square towbar socket. Using a 33mm socket on the Ufixit Tyre Ratchet we can undo the most stubborn towball nut.
This handy tool isn’t cheap, at around $130, but takes all the physical effort out of tight-nut situations.