How to Change a Flat Tire

May 29, 2018

When changing a flat tire, the first step is to assess your tools. If you don’t have the proper tools, you’ll need to get roadside assistance. Keeping a tire kit prepared is part of preventive car care.

The basic tools required for a tire change are a tire – of course – a jack to lift the car, and a lug nut wrench to take the flat tire off and put the new one on. A lug nut wrench is often built into the jack arm – best known as a tire iron. After taking inventory of the necessary tools, the next step is to survey the area.

Be sure the car is on as flat and clean of a surface as possible while also out of the way of any oncoming traffic, then secure the area. After making sure the car is off and in park, engage the emergency brake – if possible. If not, putting the car in park should at least be sufficient. Lastly, turn on the car’s hazard lights to alert other drivers for caution.

The tire iron is going to be the first useful tool in changing a flat. One end of the tire iron has the wrench, the other end has a tip that can be used to pop off the hub cap if necessary. Loosening the lug nuts is an important step to do before jacking up the car because its position on the ground will give leverage for gripping and loosening.

Secure the wrench end of the tire iron onto the first lug nut and rotate left to loosen, right to tighten. Alternate sides when loosening lug nuts – do the nut directly across from the last one, moving in a star shape pattern. Rotating lug nuts helps to protect your car’s part as well as yourself.

When all of the lug nuts have been loosened – not removed – jack the car up off of the ground. Look for a ridge on the car frame, near the tire, to place the jack. After jacking up the car, remove the lug nuts the rest of the way and pull off the flat tire.

Replace the flat with the new tire and tighten the lug nuts by hand in the same star pattern they were loosened. Once the lug nuts are as tight as you can screw them in by hand, lower the car just until the tire is touching for that leverage to tighten them with the wrench. Lower the car all the way and remove the jack to completely tighten the lug nuts to be sure they are secure. Check the tire pressure and fill if necessary.

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