Understanding how to change a flat tire is one of the most important things
you could know concerning your car.
*It should be noted that
changing your own tire on a busy highway or expressway can be very dangerous
and should be left to a professional with suitable warning lights and safety
equipment. They will often simply tow the vehicle to a nearby shop
acknowledging that this life-threatening danger exists.
If your location is safe and you prefer to change the
tire yourself - you'll find it's actually quite fast and easy to do.
First you should park your vehicle well off the road on a hard surface
and make certain that the car is in gear or in 'park' if the car has an
automatic transmission and make sure the parking brake is firmly set. Block
the tires that will remain on the ground with something in the vehicle or
found nearby such as a brick or chunk of wood.
Next you'll need to
find the spare tire, jack and lug wrench. If you don't know where the spare
tire is, you'll be able to look it up in the car's owner's manual but it's
typically found under the carpeting in the trunk. Sport utility vehicles,
some minivans and pickups often have the spare tire secured below the
vehicle; again, check the owner’s manual as there's ordinarily a provided
tool to drop down the tire from the vehicle. Taking a few minutes to locate
the above items on a nice sunny day could save you a lot of frustration when
the time comes on a dark cold night. Check the air pressure in your spare
while you're at it.
Use the lug wrench, the curved steel bar with a
wrench on one end, to loosen (not remove) each wheel nut. Then look in the
owner’s manual for the correct location to place the jack - there will be a
diagram of reinforced areas near each wheel. The manual will also provide
information about how the jack works. Begin extending the jack until it
makes contact with the reinforced part of the car. Ensure that the jack is
straight and solid on the ground then continue to slowly raise the vehicle
until the flat tire is off the ground.
Next you will want to recheck
that the car is stable and then completely remove the lug nuts from the flat
tire. Remove the flat tire and set it aside until the new tire is placed on
Align the holes in the spare tire's rim with the bolts on
the axle and slide the tire over the bolts. Now, carefully screw the nuts
back on the bolts by hand using caution not to cross thread the nuts. They
should turn the first bit without having to use the lug wrench, and then use
the wrench to tighten them down until the wheel is securely on the car.
Don’t apply too much pressure when tightening the nuts when the wheel is off
the ground - that will come in a minute.
Lower the jack until you are
able to remove it and set it aside.
Now is the time to tighten up the
lug nuts as tight as possible - the repair shop will tighten them to
specification when they repair the tire - for now you want to get them as
tight as possible.
Place everything back in the car, take away the
wheel blocks from the other tire positions and drive cautiously to a tire
shop as soon as possible to have the flat tire repaired or replaced under
more controlled conditions.