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Auto Mechanics | Diagnose | How to Change a Flat Tire
HOW TO CHANGE A FLAT TIRE BY YOURSELF
Step by step breakdown on how to change a flat tire on your vehicle
By: Local Mechanics
Related: Tire Shop
Step By Step Guide On Changing a Flat Tire
So you’re about to head out and notice a flat tire can really put a downer on your day. Changing the flat is one of those tasks no one enjoys – especially if it happens somewhere on the road. The best way to avoid a completely flat tire is doing a visual check on all your tires every time you head out in your car. If you notice a tire getting low, there might be a small puncture and should get it checked to prevent changing a flat tire.
In the event it is unavoidable, here’s the steps involved in changing a flat tire by yourself.
Tools needed: A spare tire, a jack in good condition, and a lug wrench.
Steps to Change a Flat Tire
1. Ensure your vehicle is on a flat surface – Raising the vehicle on uneven road is dangerous as the car jack may fall over and cause damage and / or injury. Make sure to turn on your hazard lights.
2. Remove the spare tire and jack from the stored location in or underneath your vehicle.
3. If your wheels have hubcaps, remove them. With the vehicle tires still on the ground slightly loosen up the lug nuts - Do not remove the lug nuts yet.
4. Once lug nuts are loose, position the jack underneath your car at the specified lift point or underneath the frame - Check your owner's manual for the correct location to position the jack. The wrong spot could fall through and cause damage.
5. Jack up the vehicle - Lift the vehicle until the tires are off the ground by cranking the jack lever.
6. Completely remove the lug nuts – Once the tires have cleared the ground, remove the lug nuts and keep them safely. Careful they don’t roll out of site. You will reattach them once installing the spare tire.
7. Remove the flat tire- Grip the tire firmly and pull towards you in slightly lifting motion. The weight of a tire can be 20 to 30 lbs or more so be sure you are firmly positioned to pull the tire off.
8. Install your spare - Mount the spare tire on the wheel hub. While holding the spare in position insert the lug nuts and tighten them by hand. Once slightly tightened, use the wrench to make them snug against the spare tire.
9. Slightly lower the jack - Slightly lower the jack until the tire rubber meets the road. Firmly tighten the lug nuts.
10. Lower the jack completely and re-tighten the lug nuts – With the vehicle on the ground and the jack removed, tighten the lug nuts in an opposite direction pattern. First tighten top most nut, then the lowest nut, then the right side nut, then the left side nut. Repeat the pattern, always moving to tighten the next most opposite nut. Once all the lug nuts are tightened, tighten them more securely one-by-one.
11. Take the flat tire in for repair or replacement - You never know how soon you might need that spare tire again.
Other Considerations When Changing a Flat Tire
1. It’s always a good idea to check your spare tire to make sure it is properly inflated. Also making sure your jack kit is in the vehicle storage location.
2. If caught with a flat tire on the roadway, slowly move the vehicle off the road and away from traffic. Perhaps a side road if nearby.
3. Make sure you and your vehicle are visible to motorists. Switch on your hazard lights and use pylons if you have them.
4. If the road is uneven and you cannot move the vehicle, use a tire stopper to prevent the vehicle from rolling or tipping once lifted on the jack. Vehicles jacked on uneven ground may move if the other tires are not blocked. Place a brick or other firm object to prevent rolling and apply your emergency brake before you jack up the vehicle.
5. Ensure the lug nuts are loose before raising the vehicle. Trying to loosen wheel nuts when the car is raised will spin the wheel. Loosening them before lifting prevents the wheel from spinning.
6. Remove the spare and required jack tools before lifting the vehicle. Maneuvering a spare tire from a raised vehicle is not recommended and could cause a safety hazard. Attempting to remove the spare tire while the vehicle is raised on the jack may result in the vehicle slipping and falling.
7. Do not go underneath the vehicle while it is on the jack. Car jacks can result in serious injuries or death, as the vehicle weight is very dangerous.
Before Your Next Flat Tire
Hopefully you never experience a flat tire. With that said, it’s a good idea to get familiar with your vehicles spare tire location and jack tools just in case. Check your owners manual for the correct procedure to change a flat for your specific make and model. Practice operating the jack and wrench before a flat tire. Rusted out tools will make for a difficult tire change. Use WD40 spray if you find your tools rusted and lubricate them prior to a flat tire change. Store a couple of blocks, a tire inflator, flashlight, tire sealant, reflective road markers etc, so you are equipped with safety for an emergency.
Once again, to avoid getting stuck with a flat, keep an eye on your tire pressure and notice any tire losing air or becoming deflated. Including your spare. Out of sight, out of mind.
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