Knowing how to change a flat tire can save you a ton of time and money. You would think this day and age that people would know how to do this. I’m always surprise to learn that there are still people who drive their cars everyday and not know how to change a flat when it occurred. Instead they would call a tow service or AAA and wait for hours for that truck to show up and change that tire for you. I learned by watching my father change his flats when I was kid and I never forgot because it is easy. I believe that once you see it you too will be able to change it yourself as well.
- Spare Tire: you will definitely need one of these if you want to change your flat. Usually most cars now a day do include a spare in the trunk. If you are the first owner of the car then your tire should be okay. Just in case though I would bounce on the floor once and if you feel it bounce back then its good. If you have a car that’s a few years older you may want to check if your car even has a spare in the trunk. If you don’t then you will have to call AAA or something. Or if you do have a spare make sure that it has air and that the tire has not rotten from the inside. Do the tire bounce on the floor if it bounces back then the spare is good if not you will hear a thud.
- A Jack: A jack is a piece of equipment used to lift the car up when you have a flat. This contraption is used in all tire changes. Usually all cars will carry a jack with along with the spare tire. You will notice though that the jack is usually a little hard to work and may take some effort in lifting the car up. I suggest that you get a more advanced jack because the ones that come with your automobile are usually terribly designed and very cheap. But none the less if that’s all you have then we can work with this. Make sure before you lift the car that you are placing the jack where it needs to be according to the vehicle manufacturer’s handbook. Once you know where the mount is located place the jack underneath it.
- Lug Wrench: Another piece of needed equipment. The Lug Wrench is used to remove the lug nuts that hold the wheel in. Without lug nuts your tire will fly out when in motion. You will use this to remove the nuts
Now that I have explained what tools you need and the functions lets change that tire! I will list the process to make it easier to follow.
Park Your Car on a Level Surface:
When you get a flat make sure that you are on a level surface so that you can work without worrying about your car falling off the jack. Not a pretty sight when that happens. If you get the flat while driving find a place where you can pull over and work. DO NOT PARK on dirt or any muddy area as the weight of the car will begin to push the jack into the ground. A flat level concrete area will work well.
Remove Hub Cap:
The next step is removing the hub cap. Most new cars usually ride on rims but there are still a few cars that use hub caps. In order to take out the hub caps you can use your lug wrench if it has a flat side kind of like a screwdriver and pin it in between the hubcap and rim and pull towards you until it pops out. From there you should be able to view the lug nuts.
Loosen The Lug Nuts:
Now that you have access to the lug nuts reach for the lug wrench and try to loosen the nuts. Loosen the nuts do not take them out. Loosen them enough so that once you jack the car up you should be able to remove the lug nuts. Sometimes though the lug nuts tend to rust and removing them will take some effort by you. What you can do is to try using your weight. What I mean is place the lug wrench on the lug nut that you want to remove. I usually will stand on the lug wrench while keeping my balance by holding to the side of the car or the hood and just hop slightly. This usually will loosen the lug nut and you should be able to remove it. I don’t recommend this but if you are stuck and don’t have the upper body strength then this will do. If the first lug nut gave you a hard time to loosen then the others will probably be the same way. After you have loosened your lug nuts you are ready for the next step.
Placing Jack Underneath the Car:
In this step you will begin to place the jack underneath your car. Now remember you cannot place the jack anywhere underneath there are specific places where you can place the jack. Please review your vehicle user manual on where the points are located to raise the car. Once you know where to place the jack at you will be able to raise the car.
Raising the Car:
Now that you have found the proper place for a mount you will need to slowly raise the car by using the jack. Do not raise the car too high just enough so that you can work comfortably and are able to remove the tire smoothly.
Remove the Flat:
Once the car has been raised to a height that you can work comfortably begin to remove the lug nuts you have loosened. After the lugs have been removed you will be able to take out the tire. Sometimes the tire will not come off easily and you will have to put some effort in removing it. But once the tire is out put it to the side and out of the way. Now you are ready for the next step.
Placing the Spare Tire:
Your spare should be next to you and all you will do is grab it and place it where your old tire was. Making sure that the lug nut holes in the rim are matched correctly once this is done you can begin to put back the lug nuts. If it is a 5 lug nut pattern you will tighten the nuts in a star pattern. If it is a 4 lug pattern you will need to make the letter “N” to tighten the screws. Tighten the lug nuts as much as you can. Let’s proceed to the next step.
Lower the Car:
Okay the spare is on and the lug nuts are tightening as tight as you can make them now you are ready to lower your car back to the ground. Slowly lower your car until the tire touches the ground and you are able to pull out the jack from underneath the car. Once the car is lowered you can continue to tighten the lug nuts even more. After this you will need to put away all of your tools and the flat tire back in your trunk.
And you are done!
A word of advice do not wait long to fix your tire. The spare tire is not meant to be used for normal driving as they only last for several miles before they too go bad. The spare is only a temporary tire until you get the regular tire fixed. Usually if the tire has been punctured you could take it to a local flat fix shop and they will fix it and install it for you. They also have used tires just in case your tire cannot be fixed. This way might cost you a little more but it’s a tire and you will be able to use it until you can get a new one.
I know it is a lot of information to take in but I just wanted to make sure that you understand the concept and everything that comes with it. Knowledge is power even if it is just changing a tire.