You’re driving down a lovely, dark and serene country road at night, when you suddenly realize that you may have gotten a flat. Experiencing a flat while driving can be a frightening experience for most drivers, especially when they are far from home or in unfamiliar areas. A flat tire is one of the events that every driver should have prepared for in advance. It is advisable that every car owner take a basic automotive class. However, that is not always feasible, so familiarize yourself with the steps of changing a flat by watching videos online, and studying the procedure as listed in your vehicles operation manual.
5 Steps for Changing a Car Tire
Step 1. Preparation
Step 1 actually starts before you even take your car out of the garage. Your vehicle’s trunk should always be prepared with the tools needed in case you get a flat while driving. You should always have a jack, lug wrench, container for nuts, flashlight, vehicle’s owners manual, rain poncho, wedges, work gloves, and light colored towel.
As for the spare tire, it must be maintained properly at all times, which means fully inflated and with the correct pressure. For example, if your spare tire is a small, ‘T’ spare, it will always need to be kept inflated to 60 psi. If you have a flat and find your spare’s pressure is low, then find a gas station as quickly as possible.
Your vehicles operations manual should always be in your glove compartment. If you do not have your manual, look up your manual online using your smartphone. What we are presenting here is a general guide, you must always change your vehicles tire in accordance to the instructions in your vehicle manual.
Step 2. Where to Change Your Tire
Once you realize you’ve got a flat tire, you’ll want to begin to look for a good place to change the tire. First, the car down gradually, rolling onto a nice, level bit of ground, such as a parking lot or shoulder of the road.
Flasher, or ‘hazard lights’ are used to signal drivers that you are stalled, and to use caution when approaching so flip on your flashers as soon as you begin to slow and roll to your desired spot.
Try to park only on straight-aways if possible, so on coming cars can see you clearly as you work on your car. Many individuals are injured each hear while changing their tires due to poor visibility.
Once settled, apply your parking brake, which will prevent your vehicle from rolling away. Next, find your wedges and place them behind the wheels, exactly as in your vehicle manual. If you do not have wedges, then see if you can find large rocks.
Step 3. Loosening the Flat Tire
Now, proceed to your trunk and remove everything that you’ll need to change your tire, placing all of your equipment on a light colored towel. using a light colored towel to helps you see the parts easily, especially at night. Next, make sure that all of the tools, including the container for the lug nuts, is within easy reach.
Once everything is in place, remove the hubcap or wheel cover, and begin to loosen the lug nuts. Begin by placing your lug wrench on a nut, and twist counterclockwise until it is loosened. Don’t twist them off completely just yet, as that comes after you’ve raised your car.
Step 4. Placing the Jack
Placement of the jack must be exactly as stated in your owners manual. Once you begin to raise your car, remember to not raise it too high, as it will be dangerously off balance. Simply raise your vehicle enough so you can remove the tire and apply the spare.
When raising your car on the jack, a good rule of thumb is to keep it at 6 inches. You only need it high enough to clear the tires. Also, please avoid placing any part of your body under the vehicle at all times, as you don’t wish to be under it in case the jack becomes unstable, or the car is accidentally bumped by oncoming traffic.
Step 5. Finishing Up
Once your car is properly jacked, and all tools are within reach, you can proceed to remove the lugs completely, placing each lug into the container. Remove the flat tire, and place to the side. Reach for your spare, and carefully line up the lug bolts to the rim, until you can see the bolts.
At this point, you’re ready to secure the lug nuts. Don’t use the lug wrench just yet, while your car is elevated on the jack, simply tighten the nuts by hand. Next, lower the vehicle, and remove the jack.
Once you’ve removed the jack, take your lug wrench and continue to tighten the lug nuts as much as you possibly can. Once you are certain the spare is securely connected to the wheel, replace the cover or hubcap (if it fits). Carefully stow all tools and equipment back in your trunk, and drive away, remembering to keep it on the slow side.
The Final Words (Summary)
There you have it, a basic guide on how to change a flat tire. We strongly recommend preparing yourself before this happens by taking classes, studying videos online, reading through your operation manual, or ideally, all three. Remember to place your manual in the glove compartment, and stow all necessary equipment in your trunk.
If you get a flat, simply follow these basic steps: Park at a level location away from traffic, use your flashers, apply the parking brake, and remove your equipment.
Next, proceed to loosen the lug nuts without removing them, jack up your car about 6 inches, remove the nuts completely, remove the flat and replace it with a fully inflated spare. Tighten the lugs by hand, lower the car, and tighten the nuts as much as possible with your lug wrench.