Introduction: How to Fix a Flat Tire
One day, you'll get a puncture. And I guarantee, it will be at the worst time possible. Here's how to install a spare tire.
NOTE: Some cars have locking wheel bolts. If yours does, check your glove box for a special key. If you don't have this key, and have a lock -- you will not be able to remove your wheel.
If you are uncomfortable with changing your tire on the side of the road. Call for assistance - do not drive with a spare tire or punctured tire unless you have run flat tires.
Never raise a vehicle with people inside.
It is beneficial to practice this operation in your driveway so you can complete the task quickly and comfortable on the side of the road.
Check the pressure of your spare tire frequently (at least once a month) and before long trips. There's nothing worse than finding all you have to replace your flat tire with is... a flat tire.
Avoid products like "Fix-A-Flat" and alike. These make tire repair, if not impossible, much more difficult. Only use these as a last resort.
Step 1: Get to a Safe Location
Once you've determined you have a flat or a puncture -- turn on your hazard lights and pull off the road. Ideally, you want to park on a hard, level surface that is visible to other drivers.
Once you've come to a stop, make sure that you can safely open your door.
Step 2: Preparation
First, open your hood - leave your hazard lights on. An open hood on the side of the road indicates distress and makes your car more visible.
Now, open your trunk (or wherever your spare tire is located).
Step 3: The Road Side Kit
Here we have a few items - but we only need three.
1. Screwdriver and plastic lug wrench (to unscrew once they have been freed)
2. Jack -- this one is known as "The widow maker" among the VW community
3. Lug Wrench
If you thought ahead, you might have also included gloves, to keep your hands clean.
Other good things to have
1. Flashlight (preferably a human powered one)
2. Road Marker
3. Road Flare
4. Jumper Cables (that's another instructable)
Step 4: Clear Trunk Space Remove Spare
Once the trunk space is clear:
- Lift the trunk floor
- Remove Road Side Kit
- Unscrew Spare Tire Tie Down (this keeps the tire from rattling)
- Remove Spare Tire
This is to prevent excessive wear on your transmission (specifically, differential). Additionally, driving with an undersized tire on a driven wheel can be dangerous.
Step 5: Secure Your Vehicle
When you lift a car with an emergency, the wheels need to be able to roll a tiny bit. Otherwise, you'll find out why this VW jack is known as the widow maker. If the wheels are not able to roll, a moment force is applied to the jack which will cause it to twist off. Not good my friends. Luckily, we can secure either the front or rear without problems ;)
For Flat Ground (that is, the car doesn't roll on it's own):
If you're replacing a front wheel -- engage the parking brake OR chock the opposite rear wheel (if possible) -- leave your transmission in neutral.
If replacing a rear wheel -- put your car in first gear (for manual transmission) OR chock the opposite front wheel -- leave the parking brake off.
Step 6: Free Wheel Bolts/Lugs
Remove any wheel center caps to reveal your lugs/bolts. Using your lug wrench, loosen each lug to break it free. DO NOT continue removing them at this point.
DO NOT raise the vehicle off the ground at this time.
Step 7: Place Jack and Raise
My jack uses my car's unibody to lift the car. There is a bit of metal that comes down vertically that the jack settles into. NOT ALL VEHICLES are like this. Check your owner's manual for the proper lift points
Place the jack down so it's "feet" are even on the ground and level. Begin raising the jack and make sure the jack cup fits into the proper portion of the frame.
Once the cup is in place, begin to lift the car slowly. Check that the jack is not twisting and that it's base is level on the ground. Should the jack start twisting or go off center -- immediatly lower the jack and try again.
Raise your vehicle so that there is a little space under your wheel.
DO NOT place your jack on soft ground such as dirt, soil or grass.
Step 8: Remove Lugs/Bolts and Wheel
Now, unscrew the lugs and remove them. Place them in a pocket or anywhere that they won't get lost.
At this time, you should be able to remove the wheel. Remove the wheel and place it under your car as shown. In the even that your jack fails, your car will not fall on to an unprotected wheel hub.
Yes, I've had a jack fail on me while rotating my tires. No, my wheels were not destroyed.
Step 9: Attach Spare
Place your spare onto your wheel hub. You may need to lift your vehicle a little more as the spare may be larger compared to a flat tire.
In my case, the wheel sits on a hub (not the bolts). So I have to place the wheel on the circular ring (pictured) - then bolt on.
Screw in all of your bolts/Lugs - until hand tight (do not use lug wrench to apply a great amount of force).
Step 10: Partially Lower Your Vehicle - Tighten Lugs
Now, remove your flat tire from under your car and lower your car so that some of the vehicles weight is place on the spare.
At this time, use your lug wrench to tighten all lugs in a star shaped criss cross pattern. This ensures the wheel tightens evenly. Look at image notes for order...
After doing one pass with your lug wrench, do a second and third.
Now Lower your vehicle completely.
Step 11: Finish Tightening and Clean Up
With the car lowered completely, tighten the lugs/bolts as hard as you can with your wrench.
Put your flat tire in your trunk (in the spare tire well if applicable) and put away your road side kit.