Car Repairs You Can Do Yourself: Changing a Tire

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We’re back with another installment of car repairs you can do from home. This one is an essential skill for all drivers to have. It’s unwise to rely on roadside assistance for all car troubles, as you may be out of range of cell service when disaster strikes. Flat tires happen fairly often. As a car owner, you’re almost guaranteed to have to change a flat tire at least once in your life. Thankfully, changing a tire isn’t too difficult. Read through for step-by-step instructions on how to replace a flat tire on your vehicle.

How to Change a Tire

Necessary Equipment

All the tools necessary to change a tire should have come with your vehicle upon purchase. If your car did not, be sure to buy these tools immediately. These include: jack, inflated spare tire, owner’s manual, lug wrench.

1. Pull over in a safe location
As soon as you notice one of your tires has gone flat, slowly brake and look for a safe, flat space to pull over in. A parking lot is ideal, but a stretch of road with a wide shoulder will also work. Level ground is imperative, as this will prevent the vehicle from rolling.

2. Put Your Hazards On
Turning your hazard lights on will help other drivers see you before they get too close. To reduce the risk of accident, turn your hazards on the moment you begin to break and look for a place to pull over.

3. Apply Wheel Wedges
Wheel wedges prevent a vehicle from rolling while you’re changing out the tires. Place these either in front or behind all tires depending on how the road is sloped. Large rocks or bricks will also work as wheel wedges if you don’t have any handy.

4. Remove the Wheel Cover or Hubcap
The flat end of your lug wrench works as a tool to remove hubcaps. However, some specialty vehicles need more complex instructions to remove a hubcap. Consult your owner’s manual if the hubcap is not easily removed.

5. Loosen Lug Nuts
With your lug wrench, turn the lug nuts counterclockwise until they have all been loosened up. Some lug nuts become especially tight during cold weather. If your lug nuts haven’t moved in a couple years, you may have to use your foot or all of your body weight to break the resistance. Don’t remove them completely just yet.

6. Raise the Vehicle With the Jack
Position the jack three to six inches in front of the flat tire and raise the vehicle until it is about six inches raised off the ground. Jacks are not 100% secure, so never put part of your body under the vehicle while it is raised.

7. Remove lug nuts
With the vehicle raised, remove all the lug nuts.

8. Switch out Flat Tire for a Spare
Now you should be able to pull your flat tire out from the vehicle. Stow this tire away. Line up the new tire with the lug bolts and push it into place.

9. Tighten Lug Bolts by Hand
Before lowering your vehicle, reapply the lug bolts and tighten each one as much as you can with your hand.

10. Lower Vehicle and Retighten Lug Nuts
Slowly and evenly lower your vehicle by turning the car jack. Once the vehicle is back in its original position, tighten the lug nuts with the wrench until they are secure.

11. Stow Away all Equipment
With your spare tire securely on the vehicle, you’re ready to roll. All you need to do is clean up and return your tools to a place you can find them again. Most spare tires are smaller than regular tires. They are not designed for highway driving over 45 mph. Drive slowly on the spare tire and take your car to a shop as soon as possible to get a replacement.

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