Getting a flat tire is inconvenient, frustrating, and troublesome. A simple flat can delay your plans and put you in an unpleasant situation on the side of the road. But when you get a flat and don’t want to invest in a tow service, the only choice is to change the tire yourself.
Below, we’ll go through six steps for changing a tire.
1. Safely Pull to the Side
Once you hear the unmistakable thumping of a flat tire, pull over safely and smoothly. Don’t jerk to the side or brake suddenly and startle other drivers. Be sure to park as far to the right as you can for maximum safety, and put your flashers on to alert other drivers to your presence. If it’s dark, place flares or reflective triangles some ways behind your car to make you more visible to others on the road.
Remember to put your parking brake on to avoid any rolling as you’re working.
2. Use Wheel Wedges
Once you’re parked, you’ll want to further prevent the wheels from rolling unexpectedly. Secure one of the wheels on the opposite end of the flat tire with some kind of sturdy object. If you’re working on a back tire, secure one of the front tires, and if you’re working on a front tire, secure one of the back tires.
You can purchase actual wheel wedges to push in front and behind the wheel, or you can use heavy rocks, bricks, or chunks of wood. Whatever you use, be sure it properly keeps the car from rolling.
3. Loosen the Lug Nuts
For cars that have hubcaps or wheel covers, simply remove the hubcap or wheel cover of the flat tire and loosen the exposed lug nuts with a lug wrench. Don’t completely remove the lug nuts; you’ll just want to get the initial turning done. Twist the lug nuts counterclockwise to get them looser; you’ll probably have to use quite a bit of force.
4. Use the Jack
Before using your jack, remove the spare tire from the trunk and consult your owner’s manual for the correct placement of the jack. Most cars these days have a small area on either the front or back area where the jack should go. Once you find the correct position, put it in place and raise the car up until the flat tire is a half a foot above the ground.
If you’re using a scissor jack, insert the rod or wrench and crank it to raise the vehicle. For a hydraulic jack, simply insert the handle and push the handle up and down.
5. Change the Tire
Now that your lug nuts are loose, simply untwist them with your hand and put them in a safe place. Then, carefully pull the tire off the car. Remember that the tire can be pretty heavy, so don’t do anything that might injure your body. Once the tire is off, you can get it out of the way easily if you simply place the tire on the ground and roll it towards the trunk.
After you’ve removed the flat tire, lift the spare tire up and align it with the lug bolts. The spare can also be pretty heavy, so be sure to use the right lifting techniques as you get it into position. Slide the spare into place, and put on the lug nuts, twisting them on by hand.
6. Lower the Car and Finish Up
Carefully lower the jack until the vehicle is firmly on the ground. Then, use your lug wrench to tighten the lug nuts all the way. Put the hubcap or wheel cover into place, if you have one, and tap it with the palm of your hand to ensure it’s properly connected. Once you put all your supplies back in your trunk, you should be good to go.
If you’re thinking of upgrading your tires or wheels, be sure you consult a tire and wheel specialist, such as Extreme Wheels. Trying to handle the upgrades yourself can cause issues down the road, including a flat tire.
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