Eventually, most drivers have to deal with a flat tire or two—and if you’re not sure how to change one, you may be stranded for a good long while as you wait for AAA or for some friendly passer-by. Do yourself a favor and learn how to handle this problem yourself. We’ll offer a quick checklist below.
Checklist: How to Change Your Flat Tire
Prevent flats from happening. You can’t totally prevent them, of course, but you can reduce the odds simply by having your tires inspected and rotated regularly, and replacing them as needed.
Pack the right equipment. Somewhere in your car, make sure you have a spare tire (and confirm that it’s not flat itself), a jack, a wrench, a flashlight, gloves, and a tire gauge. Packing a rain poncho might also be smart.
Pull over to a safe spot. Get yourself out of harm’s way; even if you need to drive on a blown tire for a mile or so, getting off at an actual exit is ideal.
Turn on your hazard lights. From there, get your equipment ready.
Use a wrench to get the lug nuts nice and loose. You may have to take off the hubcap in order to do this. Note that you don’t want to remove the lug nuts just yet—merely use the wrench to loosen them a little.
Using the jack, lift your vehicle off the ground. If you do not know the correct place to put the jack, consult the owner’s manual to find out. This spot may be different on various makes and models. What you should aim for is getting the tire about half a foot off the ground.
Take off the lug nuts, and then take off the tire. Just make sure you don’t misplace the lug nuts; put them in a pile where they will be safe!
Put the spare on the wheel. Push it onto the base of the wheel until it won’t go further. Ensure the holes for the lug nuts are lined up properly.
Put on the lug nuts. No need to tighten them just yet; simply make sure they’re in place, and tight enough to hold the tire on for a minute or two.
Bring the car back down to the ground. Then remove the jack.
Tighten the lug nuts. Tighten them gradually, and get each one as snug as it can possibly be.
Return all your tools, as well as the flat tire, to your vehicle. Don’t leave anything on the side of the road!
Prioritizing Your Tire Safety
A final note: Tire safety is one of the most important parts of vehicle maintenance, and there is much you can do to keep your tires in tip-top shape. Make it a priority to inspect them yourself every month or so and before every long trip, and note any tears, debris stuck in the tire, or obvious unevenness in the tread. If your tire needs some TLC, don’t waste time in getting it!