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How to Change a Flat Tire

By September 19, 2021September 29th, 2021Automobile

One of the most essential skills every vehicle driver should acquire is learning how to change a flat tire. In the age of cell phones, many drivers tend to feel secure knowing that a friend, family member, or the auto club is just a phone call away to provide help changing a tire. But a cell phone is notoriously unreliable, especially if it is out of service range, left at home, or not charged.

Flat tires can occur at the most inopportune times and places, and when they do, knowing how to change from the flat to the spare tire will be invaluable. The good news is that changing a flat tire is not very difficult. There are a few preliminary steps to take to ensure that everything needed to replace the flat is already in the vehicle. After that, it is merely a matter of following the steps for changing a flat tire.

First, here are the items necessary to replace the flat:

 

Items you must have for changing a flat tire

These things should have come with the vehicle:

  • Fully-inflated spare tire
  • Jack
  • Lug wrench
  • Vehicle owner’s manual

 

The first three items are typically located under the floor of the vehicle’s trunk. The owner’s manual will be in your glove compartment. If any of these items are missing, replace them immediately.

Here is also a list of items that you will provide and keep in the vehicle. They will come in handy when changing a flat:

 

  • Flashlight (with fresh batteries)
  • Rain gear
  • A short length of 2″x 6″ wood on which to place the jack
  • Gloves
  • Wheel wedges

 

Take the following 10-step approach to change a flat tire safely and successfully

 

1. Once you notice you have a flat tire, look for a safe place to pull over

This place should be wide enough for you to move around the vehicle safely. Turn on your four-way flashers (hazard lights) and apply the emergency brake. Place a wheel wedge (brick or stone will also work) behind the tire opposite the flat to keep the car from rolling. If you have a reflective warning sign, place it several feet behind your vehicle so motorists know to slow down as they approach your car.

 

2. Remove the wheel cover

If your wheel has a hubcap, remove it before lifting the car with the jack. You can use the flat end of your lug wrench to pry it off. If your hubcap requires a different tool to remove it, check the owner’s manual for the correct procedure.

 

3. Loosen the lug nuts

Use the lug wrench to turn the lug nuts to the left (counterclockwise). (Just remember: left loose and right tight). You might need to use your body weight to break the resistance. Once you do, give them a quarter-turn, but do not remove them.

 

4. Position the jack under the vehicle

The jack usually goes beneath the vehicle’s frame near the flat tire. Most frames have molded plastic along the bottom with a cleared area of exposed metal for the jack. If you are on soft ground, put the jack on the wood for safer lifting.

 

5. Raise the vehicle

With the jack positioned correctly, raise the vehicle, as shown in the owner’s manual. The flat tire should be approximately six inches above the ground. Caution: Do not allow any part of your body under the vehicle during or after raising it.

 

6. Remove the lug nuts and the flat tire

Now you may unscrew the lug nuts all the way and remove the tire by grabbing the treads and pulling it toward you. Set it flat and out of the way on the ground.

 

7. Mount the spare tire and tighten the lug nuts by hand

Put the spare tire gently over the lug bolts on the hub until the bolts are through the rim. Screw the lug nuts back on (clockwise) and tighten them as much as you can.

 

8. Partially lower the vehicle and tighten the lug nuts again

Using the jack, lower the vehicle so that the spare tire is resting on the ground without the full weight of the car on the tire. Then, tighten the lug nuts using the wrench this time. Once again, use your full weight on the wrench.

 

9. Lower the vehicle all the way

Lower the vehicle completely to the ground and remove the jack. Give the lug nuts one final tug to ensure they are tight. You may replace the hubcap if it fits on the spare or just put it in the trunk with the flat tire. Put everything else back where you got it so it’s in the same spot for next time.

 

10.Take your tire to a service station

Your spare tire is not designed for high speeds or long distances. Take the flat tire to a garage and have it repaired or replaced as soon as possible. You can have someone at the station put it back on your vehicle. But since you now know how to do it properly, you could save some money by replacing it yourself.

 

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