How to Change a Flat Tire on a Car?

Knowing how to change a tire is a necessary skill for all drivers. When you rely on a cell phone to save you in a roadside emergency, there’s always a chance you’ll forget to charge it, be out of reach, or leave it at home. Flat tires can happen anywhere, and a cell phone is no substitute for knowing how to change a flat tire.

Fortunately, changing a tire is not that difficult! Just follow the guidelines below to be prepared if you have a flat.

Items you need to repair a flat tire:

These items should have come with your vehicle:

  • Jack
  • Ring spanner
  • Fully inflated spare wheel
  • Vehicle Owner’s Manual

If you have misplaced one of these items or your car did not come with these items, you should buy new ones immediately. And make sure you regularly inflate the spare tire to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended PSI.

You should check the spare tire air pressure every time you check your other tires. Remember to check the pressure every month and before long trips or carrying additional loads.

How to Change A Tire?

1. Find a Safe Location

A flat tire in your driveway is an inconvenience. Getting a flat tire while on the road is stressful. A tire change should always begin with caution. Follow these important steps when a flat tire occurs:

  • First, find a safe place to change tires. Pull into a quiet side street or store parking lot and park on a flat section of pavement. Stay alert and aware of your surroundings when exiting your vehicle and throughout the process.
  • If you are on a busy road or highway and your tire blows out, slowly slow down and find a safe place to stop away from traffic, such as the shoulder of an off-ramp. 
  • If there isn’t an exit nearby, find a long straight section of highway and pull over in the emergency lane or on the shoulder of the road, as far away from traffic as you can.

2. Turn On Your Hazard Lights

It is important for safety reasons that your disabled vehicle is visible to others. Turn on your hazard lights as you bring your vehicle to a stop.

If it is an evening or late night, try to find a well-lit area and turn on the dome light inside your car. Your hazard lights or “flashers” will help other drivers see you on the side of the road.

3. Apply the Parking Brake

Once stopped, always use the parking brake when preparing to replace a flat tire. This will minimize the possibility of your vehicle rolling.

4. Apply Wheel Wedges

Wheel wedges are located in front of or behind the tires to ensure the vehicle does not roll while you repair the flat tire. When changing a rear tire, place it in front of the front tire. If your flat tire is in the front, place the wheel chocks behind the rear tires.

Bricks or large stones work just as well as “real” wheel wedges. Just make sure they are big enough to keep the car from rolling.

How to Change a Tire

5. Remove the hubcap or wheel cover

If your vehicle has a hubcap that covers the wheel nuts, it’s easier to remove the hubcap before jacking the vehicle up. If your lug nuts are exposed, you can skip ahead to Step 6.

Use the flat end of your wrench to remove the hubcap. This works for most vehicles, but some hubcaps require a different tool to loosen. Refer to the owner’s manual for information on how to properly remove the hubcap or hubcap.

6. Loosen the lug Nuts

Use the wheel wrench to turn the wheel nuts counterclockwise until you break their resistance. You may have to use force, and that’s fine. Use your foot or all of your bodyweight if necessary.

Loosen the wheel nuts about a quarter to a half turn, but do not remove them completely yet. Keep this if you want to remove your tire/wheel from the vehicle.

7. Place the jack under the vehicle

The correct place for the jack is usually under the vehicle frame next to the flat tire. Many vehicle frames have molded plastic at the bottom with a free area of exposed metal, especially for the jack. To raise the vehicle safely and avoid damage to the vehicle, follow the jack placement instructions in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

8. Raise the vehicle with the jack

To prevent the jack from settling and becoming unbalanced under the weight of your vehicle, place a small 2 x 6 inch cut of wood under it before attempting to raise your vehicle. This tactic is particularly useful on asphalt.

With the jack in the correct position, raise the vehicle until the flat tire is about six inches off the ground.

Never place any part of your body under the vehicle during or after lifting the vehicle with the jack.

9. Unscrew the lug Nuts

Now it’s time to remove the lug nuts all the way. Since you’ve already loosened them, you should be able to unscrew them mostly by hand.

10. Remove the Flat Tire

Gripping the tire by the treads, pull it gently toward you until it’s completely free from the hub behind it. Set it on its side so that it doesn’t roll away.

11. Mount the spare Tire on the Lug bolts

Now place the spare on the hub by lining up the rim with the lug bolts. Push gently until the lug bolts show through the rim.

12. Tight The Lugnuts by hand

Put the wheel nuts back on the wheel bolts and hand tighten. Once all of them are on, double-check and tighten as much as you can. You will tighten them with the wrench after lowering the vehicle to the ground.

13. Lower Your Vehicle And Begin Tightening

Using the jack, slowly lower your vehicle until your spare tire starts touching the ground. This holds the tire in place as you begin tightening the lug nuts. Tighten the lug nuts in increments, alternating every-other nut.

For example, if you assign a number to each lug nut, tighten in this order: 1, 3, 5, 2, 4, 1, 3, 5, 2, 4, and repeat. This way you’ll keep the tire on straight.

14. Lower Your Vehicle Completely and Finish Tightening

Once the lug nuts feel equally tight, completely lower your vehicle to the ground. Once grounded, you may be able to tighten the lug nuts a little bit further. Continue your tightening in the same incremental order until they no longer budge.

15. Replace the Hubcap

If the hubcap you took from the flat tire will fit your spare, put it in place the same way you removed it initially. If it doesn’t fit, stow it away with the tire when you stow your equipment.

16. Stow all Equipment

You have before you a jack, a lug wrench, wheel wedges, your flat tire, and possibly a hubcap. Don’t forget to put all of them in your vehicle before driving away.

17. Check the pressure in the spare tire

You should check the tire pressure of the spare tire to make sure that it is safe to drive on. “T-Type” temporary spares, also called “mini-spares,” require 60 psi (420 kPa).  If the tire needs pressure, drive (slowly) to a service station immediately.

Related Article: What is TIre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)?

18. Tack Your Flat tire to a Technician

Temporary spare tires aren’t made to drive long distances or at high speeds, so drive cautiously until you’re able to visit a tire technician. A professional should be able to determine whether your tire needs a repair or if it’s time to replace it.

Related Article: How to fix Flat Tire?- In 7 Steps