Car Care:    Tips , Tricks and Maintenance

Repairing A Flat Tire On Your Car Or Truck

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 the car.

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.


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