Got a flat? Knowing how to change a flat tire can save you a lot of time and hassle. It is a skill that every man (and woman) should possess. Here’s a simple guide on how to do it:
What you will need:
What you might need:
If your vehicle is new, it likely came with a jack, lug wrench, and a spare. They can be found by consulting the owner’s manual; they are most commonly stored in or near the trunk—sometimes in a hidden compartment within the trunk space or in the undercarriage below the trunk area. If you purchased your vehicle used or is an older purchase, you may need to buy these items (or see if they need replaced). As for the other items, be sure to purchase these as soon as possible and keep them store together.
Step 1: Find a safe place to pull over
If you are driving when your tire blows, slow down, turn on your hazard lights, and find a safe place to pull over. Parking lots, shoulders, side streets, and straight roads are all good places to stop. Avoid stopping on the road, on busy roads, or on curvy roads where other traffic may have a difficult time seeing you. If none of the options above areas are available, make sure to put as much distance as possible between yourself and traffic.
Step 2: Secure your vehicle
Before hopping out of your vehicle, put it in park, turn it off, and engage the emergency brake. Also, turn on your warning lights to let other drivers know you are stopped and not part of traffic. If you have wheel wedges, place them behind your wheels (opposite to the side of the flat tire) before you start, to prevent your vehicle from rolling. If you do not have wheel wedges, you can also use large rocks.
Step 3: Grab your tools
Grab the tire changing tools, a flashlight, and reflective triangles. A flashlight and reflective triangles are especially important if you are changing a flat at night-time. Setting out the reflective triangles at any time of the day, even when pulled over with your flashers on can help increase your visibility and encourage other drivers to give you plenty of space when they are passing.
Step 4: Loosen up the lug nuts
Use your wrench to loosen (NOT remove) the lug nuts. To loosen them, turn them counterclockwise. It doesn’t matter which nut you loosen first. Pick one, then continue moving around the nuts in a “star” pattern. This pattern helps keep the wheel centered.
Note: If you have a hub cap or wheel cover, remove it first. You can do this by using a screwdriver, the lug wrench, or the flat end of the jack handle. Also, some vehicles are purchased with a wheel lock or are upgraded to have one—don’t forget your key before you try to loosen the lug nuts!
If the nuts are too tight, you can use penetrating oil (like WD-40) to loosen them. Remember, at this stage, you just want to loosen them, not remove them completely.
Step 5: Lift your car
Use your jack to lift your vehicle. When doing this, consult with your owner’s manual first to find the best place to secure your jack. DO NOT move forward until you have read your manual and read the instructions. Once you have found the spot, install the jack, and raise your car just high enough to remove the tire. If you feel the vehicle is not secure, reposition the jack.
Step 6: Remove lug nuts and wheel.
Use the wrench to remove the lug nuts completely. Continue using the star pattern to remove the lug nuts. You should also use this pattern when putting the nuts back in. Place them somewhere safe and remove your tire using two hands.
Step 7: Attach your spare
Align your new wheel with the bolts and reattach and tighten the lug nuts with just your hands. This time you will need to turn them clockwise, but use the same star pattern you used when removing them. Don’t completely tighten the nuts with the lug wrench just yet. Make sure the tire is secure with manual tightening before lowering your vehicle to the ground.
Step 8: Lower your vehicle
Lower your car and remove the jack and wheel wedges. Then, tighten the lug nuts completely using the lug wrench. If you removed a wheel lock, store it and the key somewhere safe and reattach it when you have a new wheel put on.
Your vehicle should now be ready for driving. It is important to keep in mind, however, that most spare tires are not full size. As such, they should only be used to drive for short distances, and you should not go over normal speeds. If you are not sure whether your spare is full size, consult with your manual before driving too far.