How to Change a Flat Tire

how to change a flat tire
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Every driver should know how to change a flat tire. Because the fact is, a flat tire can happen to anyone at any time, and having the technical know-how would certainly come in handy. The last thing you need is to get stuck on the road, especially when you’re running late for something important. 

Thankfully, changing tires with no air isn’t difficult at all. In fact, every driver should have some basic idea on what to do. Being prepared benefits you in many ways, which is why we’ve prepared these simple guidelines that help. 

Tools You’ll Need to Change a Flat Tire

At the bare minimum, you’ll need these 3 items in your vehicle at all times in case a flat tire occurs:

  • Jack
  • Lug wrench
  • Fully inflated spare tire

These additionals items can help you do a tire change a little quicker: 

  • Vehicle owner’s manual
  • Flashlight with working batteries
  • Rain poncho
  • Gloves
  • Mat for kneeling

If you have misplaced any of these items or if you don’t own any of these items to start with, make sure to purchase new one. 

How to Change a Flat Tire

The basic mechanics of changing a tire are the same regardless of the type of vehicle. Below, you’ll find a list of steps on how to change a tire. 

How to Change a Flat Tire

1. Park your vehicle in a safe location

First of all, when you realize you’re already running on a flat tire, avoid abruptly braking your vehicle. Reduce your speed slowly, then scan your surroundings for a flat surface. Never replace tire on an inclined surface or in a high-traffic area. Always find a safe spot. 

2. Turn on your hazard lights 

The hazard lights should be turned on so other drivers can see you on the side of the road and exercise caution when approaching. As soon as you realize you need to pull over, turn on your hazard lights to avoid an accident. 

3. Apply your parking brake

Always use the parking brake once you’ve stopped. This will minimize the possibility of your vehicle rolling despite you being on level ground. 

4. Apply wheel wedges

Applying wheel wedges in front or behind the tires further ensure that your vehicle doesn’t roll while you perform the tire replacement. When changing a front tire, place the wheel wedges behind the rear tire, and vice-versa. 

5. Remove the wheel cover

If your vehicle has a wheel cover, it is easier to remove it first before lifting your vehicle with the jack. You can proceed to step 6 if your car lacks a wheel cover or if the lug nuts are exposed.  

To remove the wheel cover, use the flat end of your lug wrench. This will work for most vehicles, but some wheel cover needs a different tool to come off. For proper wheel cover removal procedures, you can consult your owner’s manual. 

6. Loosen the lug nuts

Using your lug wrench, loosen the lug nuts by turning them counterclockwise until you break their resistance. You may have to use force, and that’s normal. Sometimes it’s necessary to use your foot or all of your body weight to break the resistance. 

Do not remove the lug nuts completely yet — just loosen them to about ¼ to ½ of a turn. Save that for when it’s time to remove your tire from your car. 

7. Put the jack under the vehicle

The jack is usually placed under the vehicle frame alongside the tire that’s flat. Follow the instructions for jack placement in your owner’s manual to safely lift and avoid damage to your vehicle. 

8. Lift the vehicle with the jack

Before attempting to lift your vehicle, placing a small cut of 2×6 wood beneath it will prevent the jack from settling under the weight of your vehicle and coming off balance. Position the jack properly and raise the vehicle until the flat tire is six inches above the ground. 

Important: Never put any part of your body under your vehicle during or after lifting it with the jack.

9. Remove the lug nuts

With your vehicle already lifted, it’s time to remove the lug nuts all the way. Since you’ve already loosened them earlier, you should be able to unscrew most of them by hand.

10. Remove the flat tire

To remove the tire, pull it gently towards you until it’s completely free from the hub behind it. Put down the tire and be sure to set it on its side so that it doesn’t roll away. 

11. Check the pressure of your spare tire

Checking the pressure of your spare tire will make sure that it is safe to drive on. To know the correct tire pressure for your car, check the specs in the owner’s manual.   

12. Place the spare tire on the lug bolts

Line up the rim with the lug bolts and mount the spare tire on the hub. Push the spare tire carefully until the lug bolts show through the rim. 

13. Place the lug nuts

Place each lug nut back on the lug bolts. Tighten them all the way as much as you can by hand. Once all the lug nuts are placed, check each one and tighten them again as much as possible. 

14. Partially lower the vehicle and tighten the lug nuts

Bring your vehicle down until the spare tire is resting on the ground. But make sure that the full weight of your vehicle isn’t entirely on the tire. At this point, use your lug wrench to tighten the lug nuts, turning them clockwise as much as you can. Use the full weight of your body to push down on the lug wrench.

15. Completely lower the vehicle

Lower your vehicle all the way to the ground. Remove the jack and make sure the lug nuts are as tight as possible by giving them another pull with the wrench.

16. Place the wheel cover back

Put the wheel cover in place the same you remove it initially. If it doesn’t fit, stow it away with the flat tire. 

Frequently Asked Questions

The above procedure shouldn’t take you more than 10-15 minutes to change a flat tire.

Changing a tire should be easy, especially for those who’ve done it a couple of times. Yet, it can be physically demanding.

No. Do not drive with a flat tire. Always pull over on the side of the road.

Neighborhood Roadside Assistance is a 24/7 tire change service in New Jersey with a fast response time. 

Yes. It is possible; however, it will be challenging and you will need to replace the jack with something that can lift your vehicle.

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