Never done it before? Here’s how to change a flat tire

Changing a tire
Image: Flickr by Beercha at cc-by-2.0.

You see it frequently and shudder at the thought: motorists on the side of the road with a blown tire waiting for help to come.  What if next time it’s you?  What if someone or something gets to you while you’re waiting for help to come?  Follow our simple 4-step guide to changing a tire, and you can put these fears behind you.

You will need:

*  A spare tire – well inflated and in good condition. You probably have one of those donut, temporary tires in your car somewhere. Check under the rug in the trunk.

* A jack

*  A lug wrench

*  Your owner’s manual

Optional Equipment:

*  Gloves

*  Flashlight

*  Tire Blocks

* Flares

1. Get Ready.  The first thing to do in the event of a blowout is to get out of the road way.  Try to find a nice level spot to change your tire; if you’re on an incline, the car may roll off of the jack.  Also, be sure that you are visible to traffic from both directs: stop on a straight stretch and put on your hazard lights.  If you’re in an area with poor visibility, it’s a good idea to light flares a few yards in front and in back of your vehicle.  Take the spare tire, jack and lug wrench out of your trunk and put them in a handy place.  If desired, put on gloves and position the tire blocks in opposition of the direction you intend to incline your car.

2.  Get started.  If you have a hubcap, take it off.  Check your owner’s manual for instructions on different hubcaps.  Then, loosen your lug nuts using your lug wrench.  Loosen only, do not remove.  Lug nuts can be very stubborn at times, so if you have a passenger, get them to help you.  If not, try putting your weight on the lug wrench.  Be very careful!

Check your owner’s manual again to find out where to position the jack.  Usually, there will be a spot for it on the frame of the car just in back of the front tires or just in front of the rear tires.  Position the jack very carefully, and raise it until the tire is six or eight inches off the ground.  You’ll need a bit of clearance to get the new tire on.

3. Go! Remove the lug nuts and put them in a safe place.  Firmly take hold of the wheel and pull it toward you until it is completely off of the car.  Place it on the ground beside you.

Position the spare tire so that the holes in the center of tire line up with the bolts in the wheel well.  Push the tire onto the bolts.  Push hard!  It needs to go all of the way on.  Then, loosely replace the lug nuts, making them just tight enough to keep the tires on as you lower the car.  Bring the car down until all 4 tires are on the ground and remove the jack.  Then, tighten the lug nuts the rest of the way.  Tighten one nut and then do the one opposite; don’t go around the tire in a circle.

4. Clean-up:  Put your jack and lug wrench back where you store them.  Put the flat tire where the spare had been.  Put away tire blocks and remove gloves.  Glance around to make sure you have everything and continue on your self-reliant way!