Getting a flat tire is never fun, especially if you have to wait for roadside assistance to change it out. To help you quickly get back on the road, here are five easy steps to safely change a flat tire.
1. Look For A Safe Place To Park
It goes without saying, but you can’t change a tire in the middle of the road. Pull over to the side shoulder or as far from traffic as you can. Don’t stop at a bend in the road as it will be more difficult for oncoming drivers to see you, and vice versa. Make sure the car is on solid, level ground before you put it into park and engage the parking brake. If you park on soft ground or an incline you could risk having your jack sink into the earth or your car could start rolling away.
2. Find Your Tools
Once you have parked and put on your hazard lights, pop the trunk of your car to find the jack, spare tire, and lug nut wrench. Use the wrench to slightly loosen the lug nuts on the flat tire, but don’t take them off completely. Look at the owner’s manual to find the proper jacking points for your car. These are areas of the vehicle that are reinforced specifically for this purpose, and they are usually under the car, right behind the front tires or just before the rear tires.
3. Secure Your Tires And Position The Jack
Remember we mentioned rolling? To prevent any movement when you’re jacking the car up, try to place a brick or thick chunk of wood under the tires that are not flat. This isn’t completely necessary, but it is good for peace of mind and added safety. Position the jack under the jacking point near the flat tire and lift the car up until the tire is off the ground.
4. Remove The Lug Nuts And The Flat Tire
Completely unscrew the lug nuts and keep them somewhere close by, where you won’t lose them. Then, you can slide the flat tire off and put the spare tire on in its place. Make sure the valve stem of the new tire is facing you so that you know it is on correctly and can pump it up with air if necessary. Once the new tire is in place, screw on the lug nuts but don’t fully tighten them just yet. Lower the car so the tire just barely touches the ground and then tighten the lug nuts some more.
5. Lower The Car And Fully Tighten The Lug Nuts
Completely lower the car back to ground level and remove the jack. Then, you can fully tighten all the lug nuts. Alternate as you tighten them. For example, if your tire has five lug nuts, tighten the first nut, then the third, followed by the fifth, second, and fourth. This will ensure that the new tire is put on straight. Once all the lug nuts feel nice and tight, you can put the flat tire, wrench, and jack into your trunk and be on your way.