How to Change a Flat Tire

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The first time you have to change a flat tire, it may seem like a dangerous and difficult task, and it is dangerous, but you can do this. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t dangerous. So, with that in mind, you do have to be careful about a few things. But it’s really not that difficult. There isn’t a lot to it; just be patient, and follow the steps I will outline below. Take your time, do each step carefully, and you will be just fine. Anyone can learn how to change a flat tire. Before you get started, the first thing you should do is take a look at your owners manual and read the instructions. Inside the owners manual you will also find out where everything you need is located.

Make sure your car is well off the road if at all possible. It’s OK to drive it a few feet or even a block if necessary, but make sure you are well off the road so you don’t get hit by a car while you are changing your tire.

To change a flat tire, you will need to make sure you have a few things:

  1. A spare tire: Make sure the spare tire has enough air in it and it looks like its road-worthy.
  2. A jack: Usually the jack can be found in the trunk under the floor-mat. With some cars and pickup trucks, you may have to look under the hood, under or even behind the back seat.
  3. A lug-wrench: The lug-wrench is usually found with the jack, under the floor-mat in the trunk, or under the hood. (See owners manual.)
  4. A pair of work gloves: If you wear a pair of work gloves, not only will you get the tire changed, you won’t even get dirty.

Step-by-Step How to Change a Flat Tire:

Just follow each step carefully, and don’t be in a hurry. Do it in this order to prevent any injuries or more damage.

jacking up a car

  1. Read the owners manual section on changing a flat tire. Every car is different, and even a pro should look at the owners manual before attempting to change a tire.
  2. Apply the parking break. And it is also a good idea to chock a wheel. Place a brick or something similar in front and back of one tire (not the one you’re changing). This will help prevent the car from rolling.
  3. Gather all the tools and place them nearby for easy reach. Your spare tire, jack and lug-wrench should be close by.
  4. Take off the hubcap (if there is one), to expose the lug-nuts. Your owners manual should tell you how to take off the hubcap. If not, you can try simply prying it off with the prying-end of the lug-wrench.
  5. Loosen every lug-nut one or two turns. It is easier to do this while the weight of the car is still on the ground. Don’t take any lug-nuts all the way off just yet. Just loosen them a turn or two.
  6. Get your jack into the proper position. Your owners manual will tell you exactly where to place the jack. If you don’t have the owners manual, you will have to figure this out yourself. Usually it is right behind the tire somewhere under the frame where the jack will sit perfectly into a certain, stable place.
  7. Jack up the car slowly. As you jack the car up, the first thing you want to be sure of is the jack finds a sweet spot that is strong enough to lift the car. Then, as you jack, watch each “click” as it lifts the car. If the car rolls a little, and the jack leans, go back down and re-center the jack. You need to be absolutely certain the jack is in a stable place, and pushing the car straight up.
  8. Stop jacking as soon as the tire is barely off the ground. There is no need to raise the car up any more than necessary, and in fact it is dangerous to do so. So, as soon as you see the rubber leave the road, stop jacking. Take another look at the jack to see if it is still stable, and straight.
  9. Take all the lug-nuts off. Place the lug-nuts nearby. I like to put them right into the hubcap when possible, or just nearby, where they won’t get in the way.
  10. Take the tire off. Roll it out of your way for now. Don’t toss it in the trunk just yet- that may be enough to shake the car right off the jack. If the tire is still stuck on the car, even though all the lug-nuts are off, you may have to hit it with a hammer, or kick it to jar it loose.
  11. Put your spare tire on. Watch your fingers as you line up the holes in the rim with the studs. Just line up the holes and push the tire as far on as it goes.
  12. Put all the lug-nuts on by hand. Tighten them as much as you can by hand. Then use your lug-wrench to screw them on all the way. Don’t use all of your strength yet, just get them all the way on, and somewhat snug. You don’t want to put so much pressure while the car is jacked-up because you just might knock it off the jack.
  13. Jack the car down. Go all the way down and pull your jack out of the way.
  14. Tighten the lug-nuts again. This time, use all of your strength and really make sure each one is as tight as you can get it. Now that the weight of the car is safely on the ground, you can just crank on it with no worries of it falling off the jack.
  15. Put your hubcap back on. Try not to damage it. Use a rubber mallet if you have one. Or if it screws on, put it on according to your owners manual instructions.
  16. Toss the flat tire in the trunk. Toss the lug-wrench, and whatever else in the trunk. Your work is done.
  17. Take your gloves off and high-five the person next to you. You’re on the road again (as Willie Nelson would say.)

After you change a flat tire, it is always a good idea to get to a tire shop as soon as feasible. Have them fix your flat tire, and make sure your spare (the one that is now on the car) is a good tire. If not, you may want to have them put the newly repaired tire back on the car, and the old spare back in the trunk.

Stay safe!

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