Introduction: How to Change a Flat Tire

Picture of How to Change a Flat Tire

It is almost inevitable that at some point in your life you will experience the dreaded and inconvenient flat tire. You're driving along, singing your favorite song and all of a sudden your car starts pulling to the side and you hear that awful flapping sound of your tire that just gave out.

Although most people today have either AAA, OnStar, or some other type of roadside assistance, it's always good to know how to change a flat yourself. If you've ever had to wait on roadside assistance, you probably know how long it can take for them to arrive. Often times you can change a flat before help even arrives if you know what to do. 

Step 1: Find a Safe Location to Pull Over

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If possible, pull into a parking lot or another low-traffic area. The less traffic, the less you put yourself in danger of being struck by oncoming traffic. If you are on a major highway/interstate, try and get off the exit if possible.

If you cannot reach a low traffic area, do your best to get off the road as far as you can, parking on a flat surface. Parking on a flat surface will make it much easier to secure your car from moving while you are changing your tire.

Step 2: Turn on Your Emergency Flasher Lights

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Your emergency lights signal other drivers that you are in distress, which lets them know to slow down or move over when passing you.

This also helps other drivers notice you, especially at night.

Step 3: Get Your Jack, Wrench and Spare Tire From the Trunk

Picture of Get Your Jack, Wrench and Spare Tire From the Trunk

Typically, spare tires are located under a mat in your trunk along with a jack and lug wrench.

If you drive a truck, the spare tire is located under the bed. The jack and lug wrench for a truck are typically under or behind the back seat.

Step 4: Use the Lug Wrench to Loosen the Lug Nuts

Picture of Use the Lug Wrench to Loosen the Lug Nuts

You may need to detach the hubcap. Don't remove the lug nuts at this point; simply loosen them by rotating the wrench to the left (counter-clockwise). If the lug nuts are extremely tight, try placing the wrench on the nut and standing on the wrench arm to use your full weight on it.

Step 5: Use the Jack to Lift the Vehicle Off the Ground

Picture of Use the Jack to Lift the Vehicle Off the Ground

Different car models may have different places to put the jack; consult your owner's manual for specific locations. Once the jack is securely in the correct spot, jack up the car until the tire is about six inches off the ground.

Step 6: Remove the Lug Nuts and Pull the Tire Off the Car

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Make sure to put the lug nuts in a pile that won't get scattered, and pull the tire straight toward yourself to remove it from the wheel base.

Step 7: Put the Spare Tire on the Car

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Line up the lug nut posts with the holes in the spare, and push the spare all the way onto the wheel base until it can't go any farther.

Step 8: Lower the Car Back to the Ground

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Use the jack to bring the car back down to ground level. Remove the jack from underneath the car.

Step 9: Put the Lug Nuts On

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First, tighten the lug nuts by hand until they are snug.  Next, use the lug wrench to tighten each nut. Follow a star pattern to go from nut to nut. This ensures you do not put the tire on crooked.

Step 10: Clean Up

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Place your old tire and tools back in your trunk. Double-check to make sure you did not leave any tools behind.

Step 11: Precaution

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Most cars come standard with a small, "doughnut" spare tire. These tires are not meant to be driven on at high speeds or long distances. If you have a doughnut spare, you should seek to replace the full-sized flat with a new one.

Comments

Mindmapper1 (author)2013-10-09

Once you have pulled over into a safe location and put your hazards on you should put something large behind your car with your warning triangle clearly visible and you should wear a hi vis vest (which you should have in your car at all times).
Too many people get killed every year while changing wheels at the side of highways, be safe not sorry.

Aretz (author)Mindmapper12013-10-13

And you should block the opposite wheel so the car can't move while it's on the jack, since those jacks are usually puny, just big enough for the job and none too steady. I have two bricks in my truck bed for this purpose.
Not a good or original instructable, especially since people who've never changed a tire are probably going to need more specific instructions based on the make and model of their vehicle.

Ranie-K (author)2013-10-09

This is from WikiHow. Use your own stuff.

AndyGadget (author)2013-10-09

 
A very useful Instructable, however sections 8 / 9 could do with a bit more clarity : You're explaining putting the lug nuts on in 9 but the photo in 8 shows them on.   I'd put them on and nip them up in 8 so the wheel can't move,  then properly tighten in 9 once the car's lowered off the jack.

Good point below about hi-viz and warning triangle in the comment below.  I think that's worth adding.  (They are both a legal requirement in some European countries.)


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