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DIY Snow-Summer Tire Swaps w/ supplied jack

Hi, This is a question I’ve always wanted to ask but never did because my cars never really needed snow tires. I just bought a 2010 Mazda 5 though, and in my new home state of Maine, I need snows. My question is,over time, will the integrity of the unibody be affected by the jacking of each individual corner twice/year in the course of swapping snow and summer tires? Should I just take it to a shop that uses a lift at all 4 corners?

Thanks for your advice.

as long as jack is positioned properly i dought any harm can be done

It should have no effect on the body integrity. Those of us who have always lived in snow country are used to jacking up the car twice a year to change the tires.

Years ago when tires were unreliable and short lived, the car would be jacked up numerous times to change a flat.

Having said all that, I have owned two 1970s unit body cars that started rusting out so badly that the jacking points gave way, and the jack went into the body. You are a very long way from that, however. If you have an old car and want to mount winter tires, I would let the shop do that. My shop charges $20 and properly torques the studs. You might want to invest in a torque wrench as well.

I use a small floor jack to raise one corner of my '96 Subaru at a time when I switch back and forth between summer and winter tires. I haven’t noticed any damage. Nor any squeaks or rattles.

The unibody of your Mazda5 is pretty strong. Strong enough to withstand impacts from other vehicles, the twisting and bending associated with everyday driving on all sorts of roads, etc. Jacking it up isn’t going to hurt it.

As long as you raise the vehicle at its jacking points (according to the owner’s manual) you have nothing to worry about.

If, on the other hand, you’re willing to pay someone to switch the wheels for you twice a year, that’s OK too. I’m sure your local tire shop will be glad to take your money.

I would spend a few bucks and purchase a hydraulic jack with jack stands. The supplied jack will work but is compromised in safety.

Good shops charge about $20 max for the swap over if you are in for other work such as an oil change requiring the car to be lifted up.

2nd the advice to buy an inexpensive hydralic floor jack and a set of jack stands. Sears sells them and I’m happy with mine. The hydralic jack is much faster and easier to work with over the car supplied jacks in my cars.

I raise the car with the jack, place a jack stand under something sturdy and secure and lower the car onto the jack stand. Change the tires, jack the car up, remove the jack stand and lower. The first wheel takes a bit and then the routine kicks in for the other 3 and I’m done in about 30 to 40 min.

I’ll have absolutely no effect on the unibody. The structure is strong enough to absorb far, far, far, far more tortional stress than you’re able to put on it by jacking a wheel up. Except perhaps for that SAAB ragtop I test drove some years back that wobbled all over the place as the road varied…

If you don’t use the approved jack points (see your manual) you may, however, bent some piece of metal that holds something important on. So see your owner’s manual.

Although what you are proposing probably won’t harm your car, it would be safer to use a small floor jack and jack stands. The stock jack is really only for emergency use. It isn’t designed to be used regularly for maintenance.