It’s almost inevitable – sooner or later everyone is bound to have a run in with a flat tire. It happens so often, it’s almost a driver’s right-of-passage. You’ll just be driving along, listening to the radio on your way to work, and all of a sudden your car pulls to the side, and you hear the flapping of a flat tire. What are you going to do?
These days, most people would call for roadside assistance to come fix the problem, but what if they can’t get to you, or you can’t reach them? It’s always a smart idea to learn how to change a flat tire, yourself. Fortunately, since it’s a pretty common occurrence, car manufacturers have made the process as simple as possible so that anyone who finds themselves in that situation can fix it with little effort.
Here’s what you need to know:
Check Your Car
It’s important that you familiarize yourself with your vehicle and the tools used to maintain it, before anything happens. Check your tires for worn spots and low tread. You should keep a simple jack and lug wrench in your car as well as a spare tire, should a flat tire spring up on you. It’s also good practice to get your car serviced before heading out on long road trips.
Tools to Keep in Your Car
In addition to your jack and lug wrench, there are a few other tools you’ll want to keep handy in case you find yourself changing a flat on the side of the road. The DMV recommends the following:
- Tire gauge
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Tire blocks (to keep your car from rolling while you work)
- Plastic rain poncho or coat
- Mat or tarp to kneel on
- Fix-a-flat™ spray foam
Steps to Changing a Flat Tire
Now that you have all of the tools you’ll need, stored safely in the trunk of your car, all you have to do is follow these simple steps, and you’ll be back on the road in no time:
Step 1 – Safely find a spot to pull over. Look for a safe, flat area to pull off of the main road. If you’re on the highway, pull off on the nearest exit, if you can, even if you have to drive a little way on the flat; it’s safer than just pulling over on a narrow shoulder. Once stopped, leave your car in gear (if you have a manual transmission) and set your parking brake.
Step 2 – Turn on your hazard lights and grab your tools.
Step 3 – Loosen the lug nuts. Don’t remove the lug nuts, yet, but do loosen them with your lug wrench. Turn them counter-clockwise to do so. If they’re on too tight, and you’re having trouble loosening them, try standing on the wrench arm to use your full body weight.
Step 4 – Lift your car off the ground with the jack. Look in your owner’s manual to see where to best position your jack. Locations vary depending on car make and model. Once in place, jack the car up until the tire is several inches off of the ground.
Step 5 – Remove the lug nuts and pull the flat tire off of the car.
Step 6 – Place the spare tire on the car pushing it all the way onto the wheel base.
Step 7 – Put the lug nuts back on to secure the spare tire. Don’t put them on too tightly, just enough to make sure the tire is secure.
Step 8 – Lower the car back to the ground and remove the jack.
Step 9 – Finish tightening the lug nuts. Tighten them by alternately securing them, one by one, on opposite sides (i.e. tighten one on the left, then tighten the one across from it on the right, etc.).
Step 10 – Secure your tools and flat in the trunk of your car.
It’s that easy! With just a little bit of knowledge and preparation, you’ll never have to worry about what to do should you ever find yourself stuck on the side of a road with a flat.