Fixing a flat tire takes most people 15 minutes to a half hour. However, the stress of having a flat in the first place can impair your judgment and the amount of time the repair will take.
Keep your skills fresh to save yourself some turmoil in this event. This guide is also a great resource for those of you who don’t know how to change a car tire.
Read along and we’ll tell you everything you need to know.
How to Change a Car Tire
Changing a tire is a skill all drivers need to know regardless of the type of vehicle you have. The last thing you want is to find yourself stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire and no way out. We broke the process down to make it as easy as possible.
Step One- Preparation
“Always be prepared” is the Boy Scout’s motto for a reason. Planning for a flat tire will make the situation a lot less stressful. Start by putting an emergency kit in your trunk.
To house your emergency kit, you use a large storage container made of sturdy, heavy plastic. Put some coveralls in it so you don’t mess up your clothes.
You’ll be especially thankful for this tip if you’re driving in nice clothes for a job interview or special occasion. A set of heavy mechanics gloves will complement those coveralls beautifully.
You should also have a waterproof flashlight in case it’s dark or rainy out. And bring paper towels and something to clean your hands with like wipes.
Toss some flares, wheel chocks (wedges to prevent wheels from accidentally moving) a tire sealant, and a tire gauge into your kit too.
You should review the tire change pages of your owner’s manual before you ever have an incident. It will provide you with specific instructions that pertain the make and model of your vehicle.
It would be helpful to laminate them so that they stand up in wet weather.
You may also want to consider storing a foldable snow shovel in case your tire goes flat on a snowy day.
Step Two- Be Safe and Cautious
No, you can’t choose where you are when your tire goes flat. But there are a few ways you can make sure you are as safe as possible.
For starters, you want to pull over into an area where you are away from the main flow of traffic. In most cases, pulling over onto the shoulder won’t give you enough room.
On the shoulder, you will usually end up on an elevated piece of ground which won’t give you a straight or solid surface to jack the vehicle up. Turn your flashers on as well to warn other drivers that you’ve stopped and are working on your car.
Keep all your doors closed so that oncoming vehicles, especially heavy trucks don’t blow them off the hinges. And set your parking brake.
Step Three-Start with the Hubcap
Use the sharp side of your lug wrench to remove the hubcap. Some cars have hubcaps that are just there for decoration, which can make this step more difficult.
Again, review your owner’s manual and familiarize yourself with these parts of your car ahead of time. The hubcap can then be used to store the lugs and nuts.
Loosen the lugs before lifting the vehicle. If one of the lugs needs a key adapter, insert the key lock adapter to loosen it.
Then remove the lock and place it on the hubcap with the lugs for safe keeping.
Step Four- Work on the Pinch Flange
The pinch flange is usually the strongest part of a car for the purpose of lifting it. Double check your manual for the spot you should use for lifting.
When you lift the car in the wrong spot, it can not only damage the car but put you in danger if it isn’t steady enough.
Step Five-Lift the Car
Position your jack under the jacking location and then raise the car by slowly turning the jack handle in a clockwise direction. It should be high enough to remove the flat tire and also install the spare.
Step Six-Remove the Tire
Remove the lugs that have been loosened. Then, pull the tire to remove it. It might be a little heavy, so be careful.
Now it’s time to get ahold of the spare. Its location will vary depending on the type of vehicle you have.
This is another piece of valuable information you’ll get from the owner’s manual.
Step Seven-Install the Spare
Line up the wheel studs with the holes to install the spare tire. Then tighten the lugs by hand to hold it in its place.
Don’t completely tighten the lugs with the wrench while the car is still lifted. This can result in the car falling off the jack.
Step Eight- Lower the Car
You can safely lower the car by turning the jack handle counter-clockwise. Once it is lowered, you can tighten the lugs with the wrench.
Most cars require you to tighten the lugs by turning them clockwise using a crisscross motion. Double check your owner’s manual though to see figure out what’s correct for your car.
If the lugs aren’t tightened correctly, the spare can come off while you’re driving. You can remove the jack and pack up all your tools at this time.
A Few Tips
Spare tires aren’t designed to be driven on like regular tires. With most spares, you shouldn’t exceed 50 mph.
Additionally, spare tires are meant to be short-term solutions until you can make it to an auto shop to buy a replacement tire. Ideally, it isn’t safe to ride further than 70 miles on a spare.
Regular tire maintenance is just as important as knowing how to fix a flat tire. You should always make sure the tires are properly inflated, examined for tread wear, and rotated according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Whether you’re learning how to change a car tire, or how to change your oil, we have all the resources you need in order to properly take care of your vehicle. Just read our articles and we’ll make it easy for you.
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