A flat tire can turn a fun commute into a stressful situation. Yet flat tires are so common that they make up an estimated 27 percent of all roadside emergencies, adding up to about 220 million flat tires per year.
Keep yourself and your passengers safe by knowing what to do when disaster strikes.
Here are some tips on how you can fix a damaged tire in a matter of minutes.
Bring The Right Equipment
Every driver needs a few helpful tools to fix a flat tire, so make sure you’ve got the right tools for the job.
First, you’ll need your vehicle’s owner’s manual. If you don’t have one on hand, you can access online auto repair manuals from your smartphone.
Next, you’ll need an inflated tire. Shockingly, almost one-third of new vehicles don’t come with a spare tire, sometimes called a “donut” so pick one up before making a long commute.
To remove the affected tire, you’ll need to lift your vehicle, so be sure you have a vehicle jack with you.
Finally, you’ll need a lug wrench to remove and replace the lug nuts that hold the tire onto your vehicle.
All these tools (save for your owner’s manual) are available at your local auto parts store or you can find them online.
Pull Over to a Safe Location
Now that you have the right stuff, let’s get into how you can repair your tire.
Flat tires are never convenient, but some locations are more dangerous than others.
Take the interstate, for instance. It’s a high-traffic, high-speed area that may be miles from your nearest mechanic.
If you’re stranded on the interstate, pull over to the shoulder of the road and turn your hazard lights on. This is especially important if it’s dark or raining, as other drivers may not see you otherwise.
The further away your vehicle is from other drivers, the safer your tire repair will be. Try to put some distance between yourself and the road.
Remove The Flat Tire
Next, you’ll need to take the jack and lift your vehicle. It doesn’t need to be much, just enough to allow you to remove and replace the tire.
Remove the hubcap and retrieve your lug wrench.
To remove the lug nuts, place the wrench on each bolt and turn counterclockwise. It may take a bit of time and strength, but you’ll start to notice a difference after a few turns.
With each bolt removed, it’s time to slide the flat tire off of your vehicle.
Secure The New Tire
With your flat taken care of, it’s time to work on a replacement. In essence, you’ll do the inverse of what you did to remove the tire.
Place the tire securely on the vehicle, fasten it with the lug nuts (turning clockwise), and your tire is almost ready to go.
Before lowering your vehicle and returning to your drive, check the tire’s air pressure. Under and over inflation can be dangerous, so consult the manual to see your vehicle’s recommended PSI.
Voila, you’ve just replaced a flat tire!
A quick word of warning, you’ll need to seek out the nearest mechanic shop or service shop, as donuts aren’t intended to be a permanent fix. They’re designed to get you a few miles at a low speed.
Looking for more great tips? Follow our safety and repair blog for more auto repair guides that can save you thousands of dollars in repairs.