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How to Change a Tire

How to Change a Tire: It’s Easier Than You Think

If you own a car, chances are at some point you may get a flat tire. This could be a result from a number of things; however, the most common reason is typically a puncture of some sort, such as a nail, a screw, or even hitting a curb or pothole too hard. Should you find yourself in this type of situation, changing a tire on your vehicle is a relatively simple process that requires only a few tools and a good amount of patience.

How to Change a Tire: Getting Started

All new cars come with standard roadside equipment from the factory as a safety measure for such an event like having to change a flat tire. Among this equipment is a scissor jack and lug nut wrench, which is where patience plays a key role in getting the job done. After you’ve pulled off the road, activated your hazard lights, and removed the hubcap or wheel cover (if applicable), you’ll want to loosen the lug nuts with the lug nut wrench with the wheel you’re working on still on the ground. With a firm grip, turn the lug nuts counterclockwise until you break their resistance. If extra force is needed, you may use your foot or all of your body weight if necessary to break the lug nuts free. Loosen them about ¼ to ½ of a turn, but don’t remove them completely just yet. With your scissor jack at the ready, the correct place for it to be placed is beneath the vehicle frame alongside the tire that’s flat. You want to make sure the jack will be pushing up on the metal of the vehicle’s frame and not any plastic pieces; we recommend consulting your owner’s manual for more specific placement instructions. 

lug-nut wrench with scissor jack

How to Change a Tire: Safety First

We recommend placing a small 2x4 or 2x6 piece of wood underneath the jack itself to prevent it from settling under the weight of your vehicle and coming off balance. This is especially helpful on asphalt before starting to raise the vehicle. After consulting your owner’s manual and with the jack properly positioned on the frame of the vehicle, slowly start to raise it until the flat tire is about six inches or so above the ground. A friendly safety reminder: never put any part of your body under the vehicle during or after raising the vehicle with the jack. The next step is removing the lug nuts the rest of the way with the lug nut wrench and carefully removing the flat tire and setting it on the ground on its side.

How to Change a Tire: Getting Back on the Road

With the old tire off, take the spare tire and place it on the wheel hub making sure to line up the rim with the lug nut bolts. Push gently until the lug bolts show through the rim and the wheel sits flush against the hub. With your lug nuts in hand, carefully screw each one in by hand until they are hand tight; you will not use the lug nut wrench to tighten them while the vehicle is still in the air. Begin to lower the vehicle with the scissor jack until the spare tire is resting on the ground but the full vehicle weight is not yet on the tire. Tighten the lug nuts with the wrench clockwise as tight as possible, again using your full body weight if necessary. Lower the vehicle completely and remove the jack from underneath the vehicle. Double check the lug nuts once more to make sure they are tight, and stow away all of the equipment used. All spare tires are marked as "T-Type" for temporary use, and are usually required to be filled to 60 psi and can be travelled at no more than 50 mph, as getting to a tire technician as quickly and safely as possible is priority number one.

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