How to Change a Tire: Be Your Own Hero

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It happens to the best of us. You’re going about your normal routine, driving down the highway and all of a sudden in a split second everything changes. You have a flat tire. Flat tires are a driver’s rite of passage; they happen to the best of us.

There are two groups of people. First, there are the lucky ones who see a flat tire and their instincts kick in. They blessed these people enough to be on how to change a tire, so a flat tire isn’t the end of the world.

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Then there are those of us who don’t know a thing about how to change a tire, so a wave of panic sets in when this unfortunate event occurs. For those of us who don’t know a thing about how to change a tire, it’s time we finally learn this useful skill. Flat tires are avoidable, but sometimes they are completely random and unpredictable. You never know what could be out on the road, and it’s important to be prepared in case something happens.

Step by Step on How to Change a Tire:

First Steps: Preparation and Safety

how to change a flat tire car with flat tire

When you find yourself in the middle of a flat tire crisis, the first things to remember are to not panic and to find a safe, flat area to change the tire. Depending on where this happens, this may be on the side of a road or in a nearby parking lot. If possible, avoid changing your tire on the side of the highway; it’s best to go as far away from traffic as possible.

If it is impossible to find a nearby parking lot or a safe side of the road, then pull over to the nearest clear area. It is also important to turn on your hazard lights to alert oncoming vehicles.

Once you’re on safe, level ground, put on your parking brake and switch into “park” gear. For manual cars, put your car in first or reverse gear to lock the wheels.

For extra safety and wheel protection, ensure that a heavy object supports your back wheels like a rock or brick.

Next Steps: Getting the Spare Tire and Jack

Once you’ve taken care of all the safety precautions, it’s time to get the car ready for the change. In the trunk of your car you will find the materials you need: the spare tire, the jack and the tools you need to remove the tire.

Place the jack closest to the tire that needs to be changed and make sure the jack is under a metal portion of the car. If it isn’t, the plastic will crack once you crank up the jack.

Once you have securely connected the jack to the car, ensure that the jack is exactly perpendicular to the car. Crank up the jack so that it supports the car.

Preparing to Remove the Tire

how to change a tire lug nuts

At this point you should have the jack secured under the vehicle. You’re now ready to begin removing the tire. First, use a wrench to take off the hubcap and begin removing the nuts by turning them in a counterclockwise direction. If you do it too fast, you may be turning the actual wheel instead of the nuts, so it’s important to make sure the wheel is on the ground while loosening them.

Once the nuts are loosened, pump the jack up so that the tire is lifted completely off the ground. The tire needs to be high enough so that you can remove and replace it with the spare tire. It is important to make sure that the jack is lifting off the ground at a straight angle. If not, make sure to fix this before going any further.

This point should completely lift the tire off the ground and ready for removal.

Removing and Replacing the Tire

how to change a tire
Viacheslav Nikolaenko / Shutterstock

One by one, start removing all of the lug nuts by turning them counterclockwise until they are completely loose, then remove them. Once all of the lug nuts are removed, remove the tire and place the flat tire under the car as a safety precaution just in case of jack failure.

Now take the spare tire and place it on the hub. Ensure that the lug nuts are aligned with the wheel bolts. Before you begin screwing on the lug nuts, ensure the spare tire is installed correctly. The doughnut tire valve should be pointed away from the car.

One by one, screw on the lug nuts by hand until you can’t turn them anymore. After a while it should get more and more difficult to turn by hand. Use the wrench to tighten all of the nuts, going in a crisscross direction. This will ensure that the wheel is aligned with the tire. All of the nuts should be equally tight.

Final Touches

You’re almost to the final steps on how to change a tire. The next steps are to lower the tire and make sure that the tire is secured onto the wheel. In order to do this, begin lowering the tire, but only so much that the rubber touches the ground. Once it’s lowered enough but still not supporting the weight of the vehicle, continue tightening lug nuts as much as you can.

Now lower the tire to the ground so that the tire is fully supporting itself. Replace the hubcaps once the bolts are fully tightened. After removing the jack and tire, you can put them back in the trunk.

You may be able to replace the tire depending on the type of damage done to it. The best way to do this is to take it to a mechanic and let them inspect the tire to see. In the event that it is irreparable, the mechanic could refer you the best options for a replacement tire.

When driving with a spare tire, try not to go over 50 miles per hour. The best thing to do is to remove the tire before driving 70 miles. Spare tires are meant in case of an emergency, and driving for too long with one can be dangerous for your vehicles and wheels.

Do you have any tips for how to change a tire? Comment below!