You’re driving peacefully in your car, thinking about what you’ll have for dinner after a hideous 8-hour workday. All of sudden, you start hearing a loud thumping toward the side of your car. You take a peak from your window, hoping it’s something minor, only to find your tire flat on the ground!
Like it or not, you’ll face that dreadful situation at least once in your life. That said, knowing how to change a tire is extremely important. You can’t always depend on roadside assistance since it might not always be available.
That’s why we wrote this article. I’ll walk you through the steps in the simplest way possible. Let’s get going!
Step 0: Preparation Is Key
Nope, that zero isn’t a typo. The most crucial step in this process comes well before the incident. If you share your car with your family, you need to keep tabs on your tire changing kit at all times.
Before lengthy trips, make sure your spare tire is intact and fully inflated. Also, verify that all the tools are in good condition. Anything that seems the slightest bit off should be changed right away. Better safe than sorry!
As a plus, we always recommend keeping a utility mat in your trunk. Pick one with enough cushioning because you’ll need to do lots of kneeling.
Step 1: Park in a Safe Place
Technically speaking, it’s preferred to stop immediately once you hear the tire thumping. Otherwise, you’ll be more likely to damage the rim, not just the tire. However, your safety must always come first.
Never park on a narrow road where cars can hit you in the back. Aim for a hard, level surface on which your car won’t slide. Before you exit the vehicle, apply the brakes and put the gearstick into Park. If you have a manual transmission, either First or Reverse will do.
Wear a reflective vest if you have one. Then place your warning triangle at least 5 feet away from your car.
Step 2: Secure the Vehicle
Even if you park on a level surface with your brakes engaged, you’ll still need to provide an extra method of support.
Place bricks, wooden wedges, or specialized wheel chocks in the direction against the inclination that the car will assume.
Step 3: Loosen the Lug Nuts
If you don’t have clear access to your lug nuts, you’ll have to pry off the hubcap with a flat-head screwdriver. To avoid scratching your wheel, insert the screwdriver’s tip underneath the hubcap, and apply slight leverage. It should pop off right away without having to exert excessive pressure.
Once the hubcap is out of the way, grab your wrench and start loosening your lug nuts. Remember the golden rule, righty-tighty and lefty-loosey. Start putting all your weight onto the left bar of your wrench. This will turn the nut to the left, aka counterclockwise.
Never remove the lugs completely, though. If you do, the car will instantly lose balance, thereby causing severe damage to its frame. The goal is to loosen the lug nuts enough to be able to remove them by hand once the car is jacked up.
Step 4: Jack Up the Car
Get your jack ready and secure it against your car’s underside. Since the exact location can differ between models, we always recommend referring to your car’s manual.
Working with the jack depends on its design. If you have a scissor jack, place its wrench over the knob and crank it clockwise (righty-tighty). For hydraulic jacks, place the handle over the knob and move it up and down.
Keep elevating your car until the flat wheel loses contact with the ground. Next, continue loosening the lugs until you completely remove them.
Step 5: Replace the Tires
Lift the flat tire and put it in your trunk to save space. If you’re unsure about your jack’s stability, you can place that tire underneath the car’s rim to hold the car in place in case the jack slipped.
Afterward, get your spare and place it over the lug bolts. Make sure to align the openings in the wheel’s rim with the bolts to place the lugs properly.
Now give yourself a pat on the back! You’ve successfully finished half the process. In the second half, you’ll simply repeat the steps in a backward fashion.
Step 6: Tighten the Lug Nuts
Start by tightening the lugs by hand in clockwise direction (righty-tighty). Once you get all of them in place, give them a quick jolt with the wrench. Don’t apply too much force to avoid moving the jack by mistake.
Step 7: Start Lowering the Vehicle
For scissor jacks, you should crank the wrench counterclockwise to lower the vehicle. Hydraulic jacks, on the other hand, can be a bit tricky. In most models, you’ll find a knob just beneath the main one. Insert the handle over it and turn counterclockwise.
As a side note, try to avoid lowering your car all the way at once. We like pausing in the middle to give the lugs another stronger jolt. This way, we become 100% certain that the spare is secured in place and ready to receive the car’s weight.
Step 8: Make Sure the Lug Nuts Are Tight Enough
After removing the jack, tighten your lug nuts with the same tightness they had before you started. If you have a hollow tube in your car, use it to lengthen your wrench arm. This should ramp up your strength, thereby reaching the maximum tightness with the least effort. Don’t forget to put your hubcap back in place.
We hope my guide on how to change a tire was clear enough. The process is fairly easy for anyone to do. There’s absolutely no need to wait for roadside assistance to show up.
On your way home, it’s important to dial back the speed to 50 mph. This is because spares aren’t typically made with superior strength. Believe me, the last thing you want is another blowout!
That said, we always recommend getting your main tire repaired as soon as possible. If you don’t have enough time, notify the other people using the car to avoid exposing them to risky accidents.