Changing a flat tire by the side of the road is hopefully something you’ll never have to do, but if the time comes, it’s a pretty simple task provided you’re prepared.
7 STEPS FOR CHANGING A FLAT TIRE
- Find a flat and safe place
- Find your spare tire, jack and tire iron
- Loosen the wheel lug nuts
- Jack up the vehicle
- Remove the lug nuts
- Remove the flat tire
- Install the spare
- Replace the lug nuts
- Lower the car and tighten the wheel lug nuts completely
FIND A FLAT AND SAFE PLACE
While driving, you suddenly hear the telltale thumping noise of a flat tire. Carefully pull off onto the shoulder of the road to a level spot as far away from traffic as possible, turn on your emergency flashers and set the vehicles emergency brake.
GATHER YOUR SUPPLIES
Get your tire iron, jack and spare tire from where they are stored. The spare tire is almost always located in the trunk. If you own an SUV, minivan or pickup, the spare tire is may be mounted on the back of the tailgate or located underneath the vehicle itself.
If you have an air pressure gauge handy, you will want to check the spare tire’s pressure. If this tire is flat, too, you’re in a bit of trouble. But let’s just assume you have been keeping tabs on the spare tire’s health, and its ready to use.
Place the jack under the car near the tire that you are going to change. Ensure that the jack is in contact with the metal portion of your car’s frame. Many cars have plastic molding and if you don’t place the jack in the right spot, it will crack the plastic when you start lifting. Next, raise the jack so that it is firmly in contact (but not yet lifting) with the cars frame.
LOOSEN THE WHEEL LUGS
Remove the hubcap. Use the tire iron to loosen the lug nuts by turning each one counterclockwise. Don’t take them all the way off; just break the resistance. The wheel lugs are almost certainly very tight. You may have to use brute force to break them free.
JACK UP THE VEHICLE
Pump or crank the jack to raise the tire completely off the ground. If you notice any instability such as the jack lifting at an angle or leaning, lower and reposition it so that it can lift straight up. The jack should always remain perpendicular to the ground.
REMOVE THE LUG NUTS
Remove all lug nuts the rest of the way. Set them aside in a secure location where they can’t roll away.
REMOVE THE FLAT TIRE
After all of the lug nuts have been removed, remove the flat tire and place it under the vehicle. In the event of a jack failure the vehicle will fall on the old wheel, hopefully preventing injury. The tire may stick and be tough to remove. If this is the case, you can hit the back side of the tire with your tire iron or a soft mallet.
INSTALL THE SPARE
Place the spare tire on the hub by lining up the holes in the wheel with the protruding wheel studs located on the brake hub. Be sure the spare tire is facing the correct way and not backwards. The valve stem of the tire should face outwards.
REPLACE THE LUG NUTS
While the vehicle is still jacked up, screw all of the lug nuts on. Once each of them is snug and you can’t tighten them any further by hand Make sure that the wheel is fitting flush against the hub. Lower the vehicle as much as possible without placing the full weight on the tire and use the tire iron to finish tightening the lug nuts.
LOWER THE CAR AND FINISH UP
Fully lower the car and remove old tire and jack from underneath it. Use the tire iron to tighten down the lugs completely. The tire should be tight and shouldn’t move or rotate around as it would if it were still hanging in the air. Replace the hubcap. Place the flat tire where the spare was stored and put back the jack and tire iron.
If you know what to do changing a tire should take you about 15-30 minutes as long as you don’t run into any major problems. If you’ve never done it before you can expect it to take longer