How to change a flat tire may seem like a simple thing to most of us. Some folks, however, have never had the occasion to do this. This guide will walk you through the process of changing your flat tire.
The number one thing to be sure of, when jacking up a car, will be the surface your jack is resting on. This should be a solid road, or other stable ground.
Never try to jack a car on sand or dirt. Unstable ground will cause the jack to tip over and can cause serious injury to the user.
Also make sure your car is in a safe location, out of traffic, or any other harm's way.
Locate your jack and spare tire. These are usually located together, in the trunk, or in some models under the hood. You will also need a tire iron, or lug wrench to remove the wheel nuts, as well, to operate some jacks.
If this is an automatic transmission car, the transmission shifter should be in the park position. The emergency brake should be deployed.
If a manual transmission exists in the car, then it should be shifted to the lowest gear and the emergency brake deployed.
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If your car has hubcaps, removal with the flat end of the tire iron or a screwdriver will be necessary. After the hubcap is removed the lug nuts that hold the wheel on will be revealed.
Slide the jack under the car, following the directions in your owners manual. This is important, because all makes and models of cars have different jacking locations, for both front and rear wheels.
Usually on later model cars, this will be either just behind the front wheel that's flat, or just in front of a rear tire.
When the jack is in place, raise it until it slightly lifts the car. Then stop and use the lug wrench, to break the wheel lugs loose. This stops the tire from spinning, while you break loose the nut. Turn each lug only a quarter turn, until all of them are loose.
Once we know all the lugs have been loosened, we can complete the process of jacking up the car. Raise the car until the tire in question is off the ground.
The whole process of changing a flat tire can be accomplished without ever jeopardizing ourselves to personal injury. Never put hands or feet under the car.
When removing the tire, or replacing the spare, hold the tire by the sides not the top. This will keep your hands out of harm's way. Keep your mind on your feet, as they have a tendency to wander under the tire. These simple steps will greatly reduce risk of injury.
Remove all the lug nuts and then pull off the flat tire. Line up the studs with the replacement wheel and slide it on. Hand start the lug nuts, and wind them all on.
Shake the tire from the sides to make sure it's snug and then tighten each lug slightly with your lug wrench. This may not be possible without spinning the wheel on some models.
If this is the case with your car, then the jack must be slowly lowered until the tire barely touches the ground enough to disrupt the spinning wheel. Try to put as little weight on the tire as possible until the lugs have been completely tightened.
It's good practice to alternate side to side and top to bottom as lugs are tightened. This will help assure the wheel goes on straight.
Once the lug nuts have been completely tightened, the jack can be lowered and replaced where it goes. This is a good practice to get into as well, because it will be there should you need it again sometime. Too many people lose their jacking equipment and end up needing help on the side of the road.
Hubcaps can be replaced now. Usually just popping on with compression brackets, however some do have another set of nuts that hold them on.
After the tire has been changed, it should be checked at the next available stop, for air pressure. Making sure the tire pressure is correct is important for the ware pattern of all four tires, not only the spare.
If you have a donut tire spare. These are designed for temporary use in an emergency. They were intended to get you somewhere to fix the flat, or buy a new tire. They are for speeds under 55 MPH and under a hundred miles in distance. Using this type of spare tire under adverse conditions, or for long periods of time, is not recommended.
Whenever a new wheel is mounted, the lug nuts should be checked after driving 50 to 100 miles. Re-tighten the nuts with a lug wrench, they should be difficult to turn. This assures the wheel was properly installed and can give us extra piece of mind.
That's about it for this job, everyone should be able to accomplish this task, if the right tools are available. Having them available is something that should be taken care of before we depart on any trip. No one wants to be left on the side of the road without a way to fix this issue.
Hopefully this article has given you what you needed to know how to change a flat tire.