Having a flat tire on the road is a major inconvenience. If you’ve never changed a flat tire, it could be a harrowing ordeal, but it’s not as hard as many people think. Most cars come with a spare tire, and a lot of cars have a full-size spare (which is recommended). Some vehicles are equipped with only run-flat tires or have a kit that includes sealant and a small air compressor. Check your owner’s manual if you’re not sure.
If your car does not have a spare tire and you require one, make sure that you purchase one immediately to avoid being stranded on the road. If you do have a spare tire, this is how to change a tire in under 15 minutes.
As soon as you realize you have a flat tire, do not abruptly brake or turn. Slowly reduce speed and scan your surroundings for a level, straight stretch of road with a wide shoulder. An empty parking lot would be an ideal place. Level ground is good because it will prevent your vehicle from rolling. Also, straight stretches of road are better than curves because oncoming traffic is more likely to see you.
Never attempt to change your tire on a narrow shoulder near oncoming traffic. Keep moving (slowly) until you find a safer spot. While driving on a flat risks ruining your wheel, replacing a wheel is better than being hit by an inattentive driver.
Make sure to consult your owner’s manual and review their specific steps on how to change a flat tire for your vehicle
Your hazard lights or “flashers” will help other drivers see you on the side of the road. To avoid an accident, turn them on as soon as you realize you need to pull over.
Once stopped, always use the parking brake when preparing to replace a flat tire. This will minimize the possibility of your vehicle rolling.
Tire chocks, also known as wheel wedges, go in front of or behind the tires to further ensure the vehicle doesn’t roll while you fix the flat tire. If you’re changing a rear tire, place these in front of the front tires. If your flat tire is at the front, put the chocks behind the rear tires.
Bricks or large stones will work just as well as “real” chocks. Just be sure they’re large enough to stop the car from rolling.
If your vehicle has a wheel cover covering the lug nuts, it’s easier to remove the wheel cover before lifting the vehicle with the jack. Again, your owner’s manual can provide guidance, if you’re not sure, but often, these are retained with lug nut covers that thread onto the actual lug nuts. You can use the same lug wrench to remove these. Other types of wheels may not use wheel covers but will use a little keyring pick tool to pry out the plastic lug nut covers.
If your lug nuts are exposed, you can skip ahead to Step 6.
Otherwise, use the flat end of your lug wrench to remove the hubcap.
Using the lug wrench, turn the lug nuts counterclockwise until you break their resistance. You may have to use force, and that’s ok. Use your foot or all of your body weightm, if necessary.
Loosen the lug nuts about ¼ to ½ of a turn, but don’t remove them completely yet. Save that for when it’s time to remove your tire/wheel from the vehicle.
The correct place for the jack is usually beneath the vehicle frame alongside the tire that’s flat. Many vehicle frames have molded plastic on the bottom with a cleared area of exposed metal specifically for the jack. To safely lift and avoid damage to the vehicle, follow the instructions for jack placement in your vehicle owner’s manual.
To prevent the jack from settling under the weight of your vehicle and coming off balance, place a small cut of 2×6” wood beneath it before attempting to raise your vehicle. This tactic is especially helpful on asphalt.
With the jack properly positioned, raise the vehicle until the flat tire is about six inches above the ground.
Never put any part of your body under the vehicle during or after raising the vehicle with the jack.
Now it’s time to remove the lug nuts all the way. Since you’ve already loosened them, you should be able to unscrew them mostly by hand.
Gripping the tire by the treads, pull it gently toward you until it’s completely free from the hub behind it. Set it on its side so that it doesn’t roll away or fall over and mar the finish of the face of the wheel.
Now place the spare on the hub by lining up the rim with the studs. Push gently until the studs show through the wheel. For German vehicles, line up the wheel holes with the lug bolt holes and carefully thread the lug bolts into the hub holes. For lug bolts, the wheel may need to be “reclocked” slightly on the hub to line up all of the holes. So install each bolt loosely at first.
Put the lug nuts back on the studs and tighten them all the way by hand. Or if your vehicle uses lug bolts, tighten them as much as you can without the wheel rotating freely. Once all lug nuts or lug bolts are installed, check each one again, tightening as much as possible. You will tighten them completely with the wrench after lowering the vehicle to the ground.
Use the jack to lower the vehicle so that the spare tire is resting on the ground. At this point, you should tighten the lug nuts with the wrench, turning clockwise, as much as you can. Push down on the lug wrench with the full weight of your body. Remove the jack.
If the wheel cover you took from the flat tire will fit your spare, put it in place the same way you removed it initially. If it doesn’t fit, stow it away with the tire when you stow your equipment.
You have before you a jack, a lug wrench, chocks, your flat tire, and possibly a wheel cover and lug bolt cover pick. Don’t forget to stow all of them in your vehicle before driving away.
You should check the tire pressure of the spare tire to make sure that it is safe to drive on. “T-Type” temporary spares, also called “mini-spares,” require 60 psi (420 kPa). If the tire needs pressure, drive (slowly) to a service station immediately.
Temporary spare tires aren’t made to drive long distances or at high speeds, so drive cautiously until you’re able to visit a tire technician. A professional should be able to determine whether your tire needs a repair or if it’s time to replace it.
About Spirit West Motor Carriage
Spirit West Motor Carriage Auto Body Repair is a family-owned and operated company founded in April 1977. We take great pride in teamwork and our commitment to making sure our team receives training on the latest innovative state-of-the-art equipment and collision repair techniques.
We are proud to say our team is family and we treat our customers like family, too. Be assured that your car will receive this treatment, and upon completion of the repairs, you will drive away safe and satisfied!
Give us a call today to see how we can get your car back into shape and back on the road.
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