When it comes to your vehicle, there are a lot of repairs that have to be made by either a mechanic or by someone with a working knowledge of the vehicle and how it is built. However, while you can’t be expected to know all the ins and outs of your vehicle, knowing how to successfully change a tire is a wise skill set to have if you regularly operate a vehicle. Tire problems can happen out of nowhere, and almost everyone has experienced a flat tire at some point in their driving history. Knowing how to change a tire and having the proper equipment at all times can be the difference in a slightly inconvenient part of your day and a desperate situation. Follow these steps to be ready for a situation that might require you to safely and successfully change your own tire!
In order to change your tire, you only need a handful of tools, and they should be included with the purchase of your vehicle. Be sure that you have the following items in your car at all times:
- Lug Wrench
- Spare Tire
- Car Owner’s Manual
It is important that your vehicle is equipped with these anytime your car is being driven. Additionally, be sure that the spare tire in your vehicle has the proper amount of air in it at all times. It can be easy to forget to check your spare tire, but keep in mind that the ability to change your tire doesn’t matter if the spare is no good either. Anytime you check your tires, go ahead and check your spare as well. Also, if you are planning a longer trip, be sure to double check all of your tires including your spare!
How to Change a Tire
- Find a Safe Location
As soon as you realize you have a flat tire, gently reduce your speed without applying your brakes. It’s important to get yourself to a location that is safely away from any traffic, and in the meantime, turn your flashers on to give other drivers a heads up. It is possible that driving too far can damage the rim of your wheel, but trying to change a tire on the shoulder of a major highway is very dangerous and should be avoided at all cost. Also, you will want to stop on level ground to avoid your car rolling while you are changing the tire!
- Apply Your Parking Brake
Utilizing your parking brake will help stop your vehicle from moving too much when you are changing the tire.
- If Needed, Remove Wheel Cover
If your lug nuts are covered up by a hub cap or wheel cover, you will need to remove it. Most hubcaps come off easily either with your hands or with the flat end of your wrench. If you’re not sure, consult your owner’s manual ahead of time.
- Loosen Lug Nut
Using your wrench, turn the lug nuts counterclockwise, no more than a half turn. You only want to loosen them here, not remove them. You may need to use a little bit of force to get these loose, and that is okay! Put your weight into it as leverage to get all them loosened prior to lifting your vehicle.
- Place the Jack Under your Vehicle
The best place for you to put your jack is under the metal framing of your car close to where the flat tire is. Some vehicles have designated places for a jack, but if you aren’t sure, check your owner’s manual which will have a specified place labeled for you in there.
- Lift you Vehicle
By pumping the lever on your jack, raise your vehicle until the tire is about 6 inches off of the ground.
Warning: Do not get underneath the vehicle while it is on the jack.
- Remove the Tire
Because you have already loosened the lug nuts, removing them should be very easy at this point, allowing you to remove the tire completely.
- Put Spare On
By lining up the rim to the lug bolts, place your spare tire where the old tire was.
- Put on Lug Nuts by Hand
Screw the lug nuts on as tight as you can using only your hand, not your wrench.
- Lower the Vehicle
Lower your car until your tire is on the ground but before the entire weight of your vehicle is on it. Tighten the lug nuts with the wrench as much as possible.
- Lower Vehicle Complete
Now you can bring your car all the way down and remove the jack from beneath it. If needed, replace your hub cap back onto the tire.
- Double Check Everything
Be sure to stow away all of your tools. If you don’t have a pressure gage, you will want to get somewhere that you can check the air in your spare tire (gas station, auto store, mechanic, etc). Remember that spare tires are not meant to be driven on long term, and should only make due until you can quickly get to a mechanic or tire shop to either get set up with a new tire or have your flat tire repaired.