Have you ever been stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire? Do you want to be able to change a tire without having to ask for help? Fortunately, changing a tire is a pretty simple task, provided you’re prepared and willing to exert a little effort.
How to Change a Tire
1. Find a Safe Location
Once you realize you have a flat tire, do not brake or turn abruptly. Slowly reduce your speed and scan your surroundings for a flat, straight stretch of road with a broad shoulder. An empty parking lot would be an ideal place. Level ground is good because it will prevent your vehicle from rolling. Straight stretches of road are also better than curves, as oncoming traffic is more likely to see you.
Never try to change your tire on a narrow shoulder near oncoming traffic. Move (slowly) until you find a safer place. While riding on a plane there is a risk of damaging your rim. Replacing a rim is better than being hit by an inattentive driver.
Be sure to read the owner’s manual and read the specific steps for changing a flat tire for your vehicle.
2. Turn on your hazard lights
Your hazard warning lights or “blinkers” help other drivers see you on the side of the road. To avoid an accident, turn it on as soon as you realize you need to drive by.
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.
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. With your wheel nuts exposed, you can skip 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 body weight 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 Lug nuts 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 the Vehicle and Tighten the lug nuts again
Use the jack to lower the vehicle so that the spare tire is resting on the ground but the full weight of the vehicle isn’t fully on the tire. At this point, you should tighten the lug nuts with the wrench, turning clockwise, as much as you can. Push down on the lug wrench with the full weight of your body.
14. Lower the Vehicle completely
Bring the vehicle all the way to the ground and remove the jack. Give the lug nuts another pull with the wrench to ensure they’re as tight as possible.
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.
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.
How long dose it take to fix a flat tire?
Aside from taking your tire to a professional, the above procedure shouldn’t take more than 15 to 30 minutes to change a tire. Just be sure you don’t leave out any steps.
It’s beneficial practice changing a tire in your garage or driveway to ensure you’re ready to handle this situation if it ever happens to you.
A Few more tips on changing tires
Knowing how to fix a flat tire is great, but regular tire maintenance is even more important. In addition to reviewing this guide regularly, remember to do the following:
Keep your tires properly inflated
Rotate your tires according to the manufacturer’s guidelines
Monitor for tread wear
All of these precautions will extend the life of your tires and reduce the likelihood of a flat. While there’s no way to prevent flat tires completely, proper care can improve performance and ensure your tires last as long as possible.
How to Change Tires
1. Find a Safe Location.
2. Turn on Your Hazard Lights.
3. Apply the Parking Brake.
3. Apply Wheel Wedges.
4. Remove the Hubcap or Wheel Cover.
5. Loosen the lug nuts.
6. Place the Jack Under the Vehicle.
7. Raise the Vehicle With the Jack.
8. Unscrew the lug Nuts