changing your vehicle’s oil, knowing how to change a flat tire is one of the simplest and most essential
skills for drivers to learn. Since a roadside emergency can happen at
any time and cell phone service is not always available, knowing how to
change a flat can help save you from a considerable amount of trouble.
Fortunately, since flats are fairly common, car manufacturers have attempted
to make the tire-changing process one that most people can do without
If you should ever have to change a flat tire, be sure to adhere to the
Gather materials: To change a tire, you will need a lug wrench, a jack, a spare tire, and
your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Your vehicle should have come
all of these materials.
Find a safe spot: Once you know you have a flat, put your hazard lights on, slowly reduce
your speed, and search for a level, straight patch of road to change your
tire. Ideal locations include a quiet side street, the shoulder of a highway
off ramp, or a parking lot. Once stopped, apply the parking brake.
Remove the hubcap or wheel cover: If your vehicle has exposed lug nuts, you may skip this step. If not, use
the flat end of the lug wrench to pry the cover off.
Loosen the lug nuts: Loosen the lug nuts about ¼ to ½ of a turn using the lug
wrench, but do not remove them. You may need to use your foot or body
weight if necessary to break the resistance.
Put the jack under the vehicle: The right place for the jack is typically under the vehicle frame alongside
the flat tire. Some vehicles have specified areas with exposed metal specifically
for this purpose. Once in place, raise the vehicle until the flat tire
is about 6 inches off the ground.
Remove the lug nuts: Now that the tire is in the air, remove the lug nuts by hand and pull
the tire off the hub. Set it to the side so it does not roll away.
Mount the spare: Take the spare tire and mount it on the rim with the lug bolts until the
bolts show through the rim. Place the lug nuts back on the bolts and tighten
them by hand.
Lower the vehicle: Using the jack, bring the vehicle back down until the spare touches the
ground. Remove the jack and use the lug wrench to tighten the lug nuts
again. To ensure even alignment, tighten your lug nuts in a star pattern
so you are not tightening lug nuts that are immediately next to one another.
Replace the hubcap or wheel cover: Again, you may skip this step if you do not have one.
Check tire pressure: If you do not have a tire gauge, drive to the nearest gas station to check
and make sure your spare is at the correct PSI.
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