Changing a flat tire is a basic car maintenance skill every driver should know. Even if you don’t own a car, knowing how to change a tire and put on a spare is important if you plan on being behind the wheel. While it might seem commonplace, many modern drivers rely on programs such as AAA and may not know how to change a tire in case of emergencies. Luckily, learning how to change a car tire is simple and once you have done it once or twice, it is an easy and relatively quick process.
The first step to changing a flat tire is having the right tools. A crowbar, jack and lug wrench - and of course a spare tire – are all you need to get back on the road. Make sure your car is parked on a flat surface, and engage the emergency break. If possible, put a block such as a brick on the tire opposite of the flat tire. So if your passenger rear tire is punctured and flat, put a brick in front of your driver’s side front tire to minimize any movement of the car.
Most cars have a crowbar, jack and lug wrench stored with the spare tire. Remove all the tools from your trunk, and use the crowbar to pry off the hub cap. Next use the lug wrench and use it to remove the flat tires lug nuts. This may be the hardest part of the entire process. Turn them counter clock wise, and alternate loosening them all, but do not remove them yet!
Once the nuts are loosened, you can jack up your car. Carefully place the jack underneath your car. If you are not sure where to place it, check your owner’s manual. The jack should come into contact with a sturdy spot on the car’s frame. Using the provided hand crank, crank up the jack until the wheel is high enough above the ground to remove the flat tire. Then go ahead and finish loosening the nuts, and remove the tire. Be careful to set the nuts somewhere safe, as you do not want to lose them!
Once you have jacked up the car and removed the flat tire, all you need to do is put on the spare. Line up the lugs - or bolts – with the holes in the tire, and slide the wheel on. Replace the lug nuts and tighten them by hand until they are secure, but not too tight. Lower the car – carefully of course! – until the spare wheel is firmly on the ground. Once you have removed the jack, use the lug wrench to finish tightening up the nuts, until they are as tight as possible.
The last step shouldn’t be forgotten. Now that you have your spare tire on drive to a mechanic or tire repair store and get your flat tire patched or replaced! Spare tires are just that – spares. They should not be driven on for extended periods of time, so getting your tire repaired or replaced is as important as knowing how to jack up your car.