If you drive a car, sooner or later you will have a flat tire. You can either stand on the side of the road, hoping a kind motorist will stop and change your tire for you, or you can take matters into your own hands and learn how to do it yourself. It’s easier than you think, and anyone can do it. You can change a flat tire in less than 15 minutes, you just need to know the steps.
You probably already have a jack, a lug wrench, and a spare tire in the trunk of your car, but here are some additional things that will make changing a tire easier.
A piece of plywood to put under the jack. The plywood stops the jack from sinking into grass or mud and keeps the jack level when you change a flat tire.
Blocks of lumber to use as chocks to wedge behind the wheels to keep the car from rolling off the jack when you change a flat tire.
A large screwdriver to remove the hubcap to use when you change a flat tire.
A rubber mallet. If the flat tire is difficult to remove from the wheel hub, hitting the tire with the mallet will loosen it.
Other handy items to keep in the trunk of your car when changing a flat tire in 15 minutes are a plastic rain poncho to keep you dry if it’s raining, and paper towels to wipe grease and dirt from your hands.
Check your spare tire monthly for pressure and tread at the same time you check your other tires. A spare tire is useless if it’s as flat as the one that needs changing.
If you have a tire blowout, avoid a collision by learning how to pull off the road safely.
Once you’ve brought your car to a stop, put up the hood so that other drivers can see that you’re having a problem. Pull up your handbrake and put your car in park, or first gear if you’re driving a manual.
Don’t lay down with your legs and feet in the road, or crawl under the car while attempting to change your flat tire.
Change The Tire
Wedge the chocks behind the three good tires so the car won’t roll when it’s raised on the jack. Pay particular attention to the tire diagonally opposite from the flat one; this wheel will have the most weight on it.
Remove the hubcap (if you have one) with the screwdriver.
Loosen the lug nuts counter-clockwise with the wrench, but don’t take them off completely yet. The lug nuts can sometimes be very tight, and you may have to use your body weight or stomp on the wrench to loosen them, but be careful because you don’t want to strip them.
Change The Tire Continued
Put the jack on the plywood and position it next to the flat tire while changing it. Most cars have notches or holes under the car where the jack fits, but if not, check the owner’s manual to see where the jack should go. Don’t take a chance here; if you put the jack in the wrong place, you may damage your car and need auto body repairs. You also stand the risk of injuring yourself.
Make sure the jack is vertical and stable under the car and then pump it until the flat tire is about 3 inches off the ground. If at any time the jack starts leaning or is unstable, lower the car and start again the process of changing the tire again.
Loosen the lug nuts with the wrench until you can take them off completely. Put them in the trunk of the car or in the glove compartment so that you don’t lose them.
Remove the flat tire and put it under the car as an extra safety measure; if the vehicle falls, it’ll land on the tire and prevent damage to the car and injury to yourself. If the tire is hard to remove from the wheel hub, hit it with the rubber mallet to loosen it.
Put on the spare tire with the air valve facing outwards. Wiggle the tire until the wheel holes and the wheel studs line up, and the tire rim is flush against the hub.
Replace the lug nuts and tighten them clockwise by hand when changing your flat tire.
Lower the car and remove the jack.
Tighten the lug nuts with the wrench and put the hubcap back on.
And there you are, you’ve changed your flat tire!
Load up all the tools and equipment and drive to the tire shop to get the flat repaired or replaced so that you’re ready for the next time. The chances are good that there will be a next time.
If you do have an accident, Orlando Auto Body, 480-351-1734, will get your car back on the road looking as good as new.