How to Change a Tire Without a Lug Wrench?

Typically, lug wrenches are categorized as socket wrenches. These tools are essential in tightening or loosening the lug nuts on automobile wheels. While this definition clearly outlines their purpose, not having one in the event of a flat tire is not the end.

Fortunately, you can change a tire without the lug wrench. You can use an extendable breaker bar or a crossbar tire iron. These help you to loosen and tighten the lug nuts any time you are changing a tire. 

This article explains how you can successfully change a tire without a lug wrench and its alternatives. 

How to Change a Tire Without a Lug Wrench

Changing a flat tire can seem like an exercise in futility, and without the right tools, that makes it a few times harder. We have all experienced those moments where you have a flat tire and there is no help in sight.

So, you have to face it head-on. And knowing misfortunes seldom come singly, you just happen to not have your lug wrench in the car this fateful day. However, you need not worry much. We got you covered. 

Anytime you are out on the road, always ensure you are well equipped for any roadside emergency. So, whether it is a road trip or a quick stop at the mall, ensure your car has a functional spare tire. Moreover, it is equally important to have a lug wrench that is specific to the lug nuts on your tires.

Thankfully, if you do not have one, there are different tools that you can use to loosen or tighten them. These tools work as well as the wrench, so you need not worry. You can use an extendable breaker bar or a cross-bar tire iron. 

Also Read: Can You Over-Tighten Lug Nuts by Hand?

How to Change a Tire With an Extendable Breaker Bar

Breaker bars are a great alternative to the lug wrench. They are capable of producing enough torque to handle the most stubborn of lug nuts. The head is designed to rotate up to 24o degrees so you can easily get it in the best position to deal with tight lug nuts. And if the breaker bar can extend to 18 inches, you have all that you need. 

Step 1: Remove the Tire

The first step is to extend the breaker bar to its limit without hitting the ground. Doing so provides sufficient force and torque. Then, fit the socket end over the lug nuts and remove them. 

Step 2: Replace the Tire 

Make the necessary replacement, and install the spare tire in place. Now, you can shorten the breaker bar to its shortest possible length. Then, go ahead and tighten the lug nuts as hard as you can. Shortening the bar helps to prevent you from overtightening the nuts because now you have less torque and force. 

Also Read: Where to Put the Jack When Changing a Tire?

How to Change a Tire With a Crossbar Tire Iron

A crossbar tire iron with the right size socket is very handy. The tire iron is fixed onto the lug nuts and then you tighten it by hand if you have the arm strength. Alternatively, you will have to stand on the right side of the tire iron and turn to tighten the lug nut clockwise.

There are different types of tire irons—you can use the four-way type or the single socket type. The socket should be a perfect fit for the lug nuts. 

Step 1: Remove the Lug Nuts

With the right socket size, you can remove the lug nuts. Simply fit the socket and fit it over the lug nut. You can use arm length or stand on the tire iron to turn in counterclockwise to remove the nuts, and then jack up the car. 

Step 2: Replace the tire 

Install the spare tire and then with your fingers, tighten the lug nuts as tightly as you can. Lower the car back to the ground and then use the tire iron to tighten the nuts. It is advisable to use both hands and tighten each nut at a time.   

How Do I Know What Size Wrench to Use to Remove Lug Nuts?

There is an easy way to determine the right size of wrench to use. It should be the one that fits snugly. So, if the wrench can be wiggled on the head, then it is too big. If it is too small, you will not be able to get it on the head.

Not all lug nuts are the same. They vary by both manufacturer and application. Moreover, they differ in thread size, thread pitch, seat type, and installation method. You can also refer to the owner’s manual as they specify the right size wrench to be used. 

Read our comparison on 265/70r17 vs 295/70r17 Tires

How Much Torque Do You Need to Loosen Lug Nuts? 

From a lug nut torque, most nuts should be torqued between 80 and 100 ft-lbs. However, some may require more torque, while others less. But optimally, a lug nut must be torqued to 100ft-lbs. 100 ft-lbs is equivalent to 1200in-lbs. 

If the lug nuts in your tire are tightened to 100ft-lbs, you can easily loosen them using a tool that can deliver 100ft-lbs. However, this is only possible under ideal conditions—some factors may prove the statement to be false. For instance, time and environmental conditions may require more torque to be used. For stubborn nuts, even more powerful torque of 210 to 220ft-lbs may be required. 

How Do You Remove a Lug Nut Without a Wrench?

If using a crossbar tire iron, removing a lug nut will require arm strength. Alternatively, you can stand on the left side of the iron and use your body weight.

Ensure you are careful while doing so to prevent a fall. If you are lightweight, you might want to provide more force by slightly bouncing your weight on the bar. With an extendable breaker bar, you can extend the bar to its limit. Fit the socket over the nuts, and remove them. 

What Can I Use if I Do Not Have a Lug Wrench?

There are several tools that can be used as an alternative to the lug wrench. You can use an extendable breaker bar or a crossbar tire iron. The procedure for using each is explained above. Torque wrenches come in handy to tighten the lug nuts as well. These tools are very useful in emergency situations when you do not have the right tool. 


What Is a Wrench?

A wrench, or spanner, is a tool that is used to tighten or loosen bolts, nuts, pipes, and pipe fittings. It is an invaluable part of any toolbox and is available in a wide range of types and sizes. These tools are used for a variety of different tasks and have proved their usefulness many times.

Do You Need a Torque Wrench?

No, torque wrenches are not very necessary. These tools are used to tighten lug nuts and are therefore recommended when changing a tire. So, while they may not be as necessary, if you can have one, you should get it. 

Is It Possible to Over-Tighten the Lug Nuts?

Over-tightening the lug nuts is a common occurrence—it happens more often than not, whether by hand or using a wrench. However, doing so comes with several risks that are likely to cause damage to your important related components. 


Now you know how you can use an extendable breaker bar and crossbar tire iron to change a tire. It is still a good idea to get a professional to have a look at it. However, it is important to get a lug wrench that is suited for your tire’s lug nuts.