Whether you're getting ready to leave work or scrambling to get the kids to school, a flat tire can ruin any ride. Sometimes, your tire can even blow out unexpectedly in the middle of a commute. Instead of relying on a tow truck to bail you out, consider changing a flat tire on your own. Even if you lack experience with basic automotive repairs, changing a tire is typically easy. Here the necessary steps to get back on the road in no time.
What you'll need:
Step 1: Park the Car on Level Ground
Park your vehicle on a flat surface and put on the parking brake. This prevents the car from potentially rolling as you change the tires, which is extremely dangerous since you'll be working underneath the vehicle.
Step 2: Turn on the Hazard Lights
Have your hazard lights on and road flares or reflective triangles on the ground as you work. Having emergency triangles or flares not only help make you visible to on-coming traffic, but they also help close off parts of the shoulder from other vehicles.
Step 3: Check the Spare Tire's Air Pressure
Before you start getting to the grunt work, check if the spare or full-size replacement tire has enough air pressure. Use your digital or manual tire gauge to properly check tire pressure. If the tire pressure is too low, see if you can get another tire or call roadside assistance immediately.
Step 4: Place Wheel Chocks Under Each Tire
Place a wheel chock under the center of each tire before you jack the car up off the ground. Even though the emergency brake should be enough, wheel chocks provide additional support so your car doesn't move. If you don’t have chocks available, substitute them with large rocks or blocks.
Step 5: Loosen the Lug Nuts
If your wheel has a hubcap, remove it. If it has a rim, the lug nuts should already be exposed. Remove the hub cap and turn the lug wrench counter clockwise to loosen the lug nuts. Don't remove them, but loosen each lug nut by holding the wrench tightly and pushing down. If you have a long lug wrench, it allows you to exert less power so you don't wear yourself out.
Step 6: Jack the Car Up Off the Ground
Most vehicles have a marker on the bottom panel indicating where your car jack belongs. Once it's placed in the proper spot, use your car jack to lift your vehicle until the flat tire clears the ground.
Step 7: Remove the Lug Nuts and Flat Tire
Use you lug wrench to remove the loosened lug nuts. Once the lug nuts are off, pull the flat tire off the wheel base. Store all the lug nuts in a secure pile so you don't lose them before mounting the new tire.
Step 8: Mount the Spare Tire
Position the spare tire's wheel holes with the bolts on the vehicle's wheel base. Slide the tire as far back onto the wheel base as it can go and place your lug nuts back on. Tighten each nut with your lug wrench until there is resistance.
Step 9: Lower the Car
Use the car jack to lower your vehicle until the tire is on the ground. Once it's down, remove the jack.
Step 10: Tighten the Lug Nuts Again
Tires rotate differently in the air than they do on the ground, meaning the lug nuts might not be securely fastened. Use your lug wrench to rotate each nut clockwise until they are completely tightened.
Step 11: Clean Up Your Tools and Put the Flat Tire in the Trunk
It's important all your tools are accounted for in case you need to fix another flat tire down the road. Once you've put all your tools away, place your flat tire in your trunk's designated tire spot.