Friday, April 2, 2010

Reading the instructions

I'm rather atypical for a male. Reading the instructions is something I do as a first resort, not the last resort. I'll cheerfully leap into a job and work out how to do it as I go, but if there are instructions, I'll read them, and despite my ancestry, I'll generally make the effort to use the correct tools.

In the case of Silas vs. the Alloy Wheels, that meant a torque wrench for setting the wheel nuts correctly. The spider I keep with the spare is excellent for taking off the nuts, since it's got rather more leverage than the included two-part wrench, but since today I was performing a long-term swap from the steel wheels the previous owners had on the car to alloys, I wanted a better metric for how to set the torque than simply noting how much I had to grunt to break the nuts free.

This is rendered important by the spec for this car. Most cars specify wheel nut torque in the region of 85-100 foot pounds, while applying that much torque to the nuts on this car would be Bad. It's specced at 85Nm, which translates to roughly 65 foot pounds. This little detail is stamped into the front hubs, visible while torquing the nuts, and so one would hope that even places which don't know this already would notice. Sadly, when I removed the front wheels, I found that they'd been set to typical torque specs - the 85-100 foot pounds that flirts with stripping the studs on this car.

Still, I now have Volvo alloy wheels fitted, and they do look nice. Quite an improvement in looks over the steel wheels it did have, especially considering it was using the original, much-abused hubcaps. The alloys are also lighter, which will translate to improved ride and handling due to the lower unsprung weight. This may also improve fuel economy, although this will probably not be significant. And finally, I'm feeling a nice sense of satisfaction in having achieved the swap without help (and, usefully, without a peanut gallery) and not broken a single thing, or found anything bojangled. The latter part is somewhat rare; it can be unwelcome to begin a repair, as one will almost always uncover another problem in the course of reaching the first...

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