Though memberships to motor clubs are quite popular and a very smart idea to have in case of a breakdown or emergency; there can be times that waiting for a tow truck just isn’t possible. For safety – and saving time and money – you can take care of of a lot of it yourself, especially changing a tire. Unfortunately this isn’t something taught in drivers ed, and many parents don’t pass down the knowledge either. But it’s a pretty simple process that every driver should know how to do.
This post is sponsored by Roberts Honda.
Knowing some of these basic steps can get you back on the road and hopefully avoid any incident or emergency. If you do have a flat, try and stop somewhere safe. Obviously away from traffic, and preferably on a flat firm surface (NOT grass or dirt) and be sure you are not in a blind spot or on a curve – and DO NOT TRY THIS AT NIGHT if you are on a highway or busy road. Be sure to engage the emergency brake and turn on your hazard lights.
If you are stressed and can’t remember these steps, check your cards owner’s manual. Sometimes these manuals will have some information on how to change your tire!
So here’s what you will need:
Lug wrench (usually comes with your vehicle, so double check to make sure you have one and it works)
fix-a-flat (just in case)
Once you have your tools ready, you can follow these simple steps to change your flat tire:
Secure Wheel Blocks. Wheel blocks are just triangles made of a sturdy material that you just wedge under your tire so the car doesn’t roll. They go on the front and back of the tire that is diagonal from the one you need to change.
Remove Hubcap. When you start to remove the tire remember that the hubcap and lug nuts could be hot because of the friction of your car, so be careful or wait a few minutes until they cool down. If your hubcap doesn’t have screws use the flat end of your lug wrench and just pop them off. If it has screws, undo them and remove hubcap.
Loosen Lug Nuts. Lug nuts are what holds your tire in place – you just need to use your lug wrench and loosen them, BUT DON’T TAKE THEM OUT! Do this before jacking your car up since some lug nuts can be really tight and you have to use your whole body weight to loosen them up. IF you have a wheel lock on your tires, you actually may need to have a special adapter to get them off (so maybe check your manual and make sure you have that in your car too!)
Jack it Up. Usually the owners manual will tell you where to put the jack – those spots are called jack points. You can usually tell by the notch in your vehicles frame. Use the right jack location so you have more stability and you do less damage to your car. You turn the jack handle clockwise to jack the car up and make sure you have enough room to put on the spare tire.
Remove the Lug Nuts and Tire. Once you have the vehicle secured on the jack go ahead and remove the lug nuts and put them somewhere close by; then remove the flat tire (you may have to give it a really good pull to get it off). I usually put my lug nuts in the hubcap so they don’t roll away or under the car and make changing my tire that much more work.
Put the Spare On. You put the spare on by lining up the wheel with the wheel studs, which are the threaded fasteners for when you put the lug nuts in.
Tighten Lug Nuts. Replace the lug nuts, tighten them by hand but not too tight. You will use the lug wrench once you get the car off the jack.
Lower the Car. Slowly and I mean S-L-O-W-L-Y lower the jack by turning it counter clockwise. Once you are SURE the wheels are touching the ground ,remove the jack.
Tighten Lug Nuts Again. Use your lug wrench to tighten the lug nuts into a crisscross pattern. Don’t tighten them fully, but tight enough and make sure they are all secure before driving off.
Remember that spares are to be used sparingly. They are smaller tires and meant to be used temporarily. You should try to not drive over 55 mph on them, and get your regular tire repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
If you run into a problem, or you aren’t sure that you did it right, go ahead and call the professional. It’s not worth your life! Just remember practice makes perfect, and you can keep trying until you get it right!