If you’re a driver, you need to know how to change a tire. Nearly every driver will go through the pain of having a flat tire at least once in their lifetime. Changing a tire is a skill that can make this burdensome experience a bit less stressful. Before you start replacing a flat tire with the spare you have in your trunk, some preparatory steps must be taken.
First, you want to slowly steer the vehicle off the highway (or street) and park in a wide safe area. This area needs to be spacious enough for you to move around your car without the risk of being hit by other drivers. Make sure to press the emergency hazard flasher switch so that drivers know to take caution when driving past you as you replace your flat tire.
Also, put a big rock (or stick) behind the tire opposite of the flat to stop the car from rolling off, just in case. If you’re lucky enough to have a reflective caution sign, place it a few feet behind your vehicle to alert oncoming drivers.
How to Change a Flat Tire
- First, find your spare tire and jack in your trunk. The spare tire is usually located in the trunk. Most models have these two items stored in a section below the floor of the trunk. Carefully take out the spare tire and roll it on the ground near the flat tire. Car jacks often have a built-in lug wrench. Take the lug wrench off the jack and use it to loosen the flat tire’s hubcap. Once the hub cap is off, put it to the side.
- Now, use the lug wrench to release the lug nuts on the wheel of the flat tire. Remember to complete this step before using the jack to raise the car. You might want to apply pressure to the handle when releasing the nuts (counter-clockwise). Only loosen the nuts, do not take them off completely. If you have difficulty loosening a nut, don’t be afraid to get down and dirty, use your foot (or knee) to get support on the handle of the lug wrench and try again.
- Now comes the exciting part! Use the jack to raise the car off of the ground. Place the jack on a strong compartment of your vehicle’s frame. Your owner’s manual should supply specific information about the proper placing of the jack on your particular model. Turn the jack clockwise by hand until it reaches the vehicle’s frame. Then, use the jack’s handle to continue to lift until the flat tire is a few inches off of the ground.
- After the tire is raised, you can remove the lug nuts that you loosened using the lug wrench. Secure these lug nuts. You don’t want to lose any of them. Slowly remove the flat tire and put it in an area away from the road – This is where your hands will get really dirty. Put your spare tire onto the wheel so that the holes line up with the bolts. Place the lug nuts back onto the bolts and fix them in. Start screwing the lug nuts by hand and then use the lug wrench to make sure they are all tightened and secured.
- Finally, lower the car off of the jack by turning the handle counterclockwise. Remove the jack once the new tire is on the ground. Use the lug wrench to fasten the lug nuts to make sure that they are tightened enough. Great, you’re all set. Be sure to put the lug wrench, jack, hub cap, and flat tire back into the trunk of your car.
Go to a Tire Repair Shop
Temporary spare tires aren’t designed to drive lengthy distances or at high speeds, so drive carefully until you’re able to visit a tire repair shop. A maintenance specialist should be able to decide whether your tire needs a simple patch or if it’s time to replace it entirely.
How Long Does It Take to Change a Tire?
Changing a tire using the steps mentioned above shouldn’t take you more than 20 to 30 minutes. It’s helpful to practice replacing a tire in your garage to make sure you’re ready to handle it in real life.
A Few More Tips
Knowing how to fix a flat tire is an important skill to have, but regular tire maintenance is essential. Remember to do the following:
- Keep your tires optimally inflated.
- Monitor your tires for tread wear.
- Rotate your tires often.
While there’s no way to prevent getting a flat tire, proper tire care can enhance performance and guarantee your tires last a long time.