Changing a flat tire is never a fun experience, but something every motorist should know how to do. Even if you have roadside assistance, it could take several hours for help to arrive. Changing a flat by yourself can be done relatively quickly and easily. Unfortunately, most drivers never take the time to learn how to change a flat. If you’re one of them, you’ve come to the right place! And luckily, it’s a pretty simple thing to learn!
Do You Know How To Change A Flat Tire?
So you’re a hot stud cruizin’ along with your hot girlfriend and your tire goes flat. Uh oh! You don’t know how to change it! How embarrassing! Luckily, that hot girlfriend of yours has been to this website so changing flat tires is no big deal. If she were to fix a flat tire for you, here’s how she’d do it (after she’s done laughing at you).
Pull off to a safe area
This should go without saying, but I see people all the time pulling to the left shoulder or stopping only inches from the travel lanes. The side of any roadway is extremely dangerous!! As a truck driver, I’ve gone through many fatal accidents where a person was struck on the side of the road while changing flat tires. So, if you can’t find a parking lot or safe area to pull into, try getting as far off the roadway as possible. You don’t need to stop immediately, but you can’t take your time either. The longer you drive on a flat tire, the more chance you’ll damage the tire beyond repair or even damage the rim on your car.
Yeah, yeah… I’ll get to the tire changing in a second. But please, do whatever you can to be visible. You should always carry road flares with you in case of an emergency such as changing flat tires. People don’t care much about a car on the shoulder, but when they see a bright pretty road flare, everyone tends to move over. It’s like the flare is a reverse magnet! Also, open your hood and keep your truck open. It makes you more visible. Of course, turn on your 4-way hazards as well. I’ll say it again, the side of the road is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS so please protect yourself!
Step 1 – Getting Your Equipment Ready
Most cars have their spare tire located under the floorboard in the truck. And nearly all new vehicles are sold with a lug wrench and cheap car jack which should be located somewhere very near the spare tire (sometimes right on top or underneath). If you’ve got gloves, put them on, and take out the spare tire and lug wrench. Place them next to the tire you’ll be changing. If it’s dark, you may want to grab a flashlight as well. When changing flat tires, you need to have everything next to you and ready to go.
Step 2 – Loosen The Lug Nuts
Take your lug wrench and begin loosening the lug nuts (remember: lefty loosey, righty tighty – so turn to the left!). Sometimes the lug nuts are located underneath a hubcap or some kind of a cover. These covers usually “snap-on” and “snap off” without the use of tools. But you might need a flathead screwdriver to “pry” off a cover. Just be careful not to damage the hubcap! Also, some of the nuts may be very tight and seem to be stuck. To combat this, you can step on the wrench, using your weight to loosen the nut. Loosen each nut, but don’t remove them yet! Just loosen them enough so that you can use your fingers to twist and remove them completely.
Step 3 – Raising The Car
Once all of the lug nuts are loosened, you’re ready to raise the corner of the car up. All cars have different areas where you are supposed to put the jack. Unfortunately, I can’t explain it here. You’ll just need to look in your owner’s manual. When you find the correct placement, lift the car off the ground. All jacks are different, but if you have the cheap-o kind that came with the car, you’ll probably need to “wind” it up with a little hand crank (it’ll make sense when you see it). Only raise the car as much as you need to! Usually, having the tire an inch or two off the ground will be more than sufficient. Just get the tire off the ground enough so it can be removed. No need to go overboard here.
Step 4 – Removing The Flat Tire
At this point, the nuts should be loosened and the tire should be off the ground an inch or two. You can now remove the nuts. Put them in a safe place where they won’t roll away! You’ll need those in a second! Now you can carefully reach behind the tire/rim and pull the wheel straight towards you. It may take some wiggling, but eventually, the wheel will come off. Be very careful when reaching towards the back of the tire. There could be sharp metal or hot exhaust pipes back there, so use caution! Wear gloves if you have them.
Step 5 – Put On The Spare Tire
See how easy changing flat tires can be! All you need to do now is put on the spare tire. Simply line up the “holes” in the rim to the “lug nut posts” on the car. Again, it may take some wiggling, but the wheel should eventually slide right on.
Step 6 – Softly Tighten The Lug Nuts
With the tire still raised off the ground, put the lug nuts back on, but don’t tighten them yet. Just make them finger-tight.
Step 7 – Lower The Vehicle
Now, you can lower the car back down to the ground. Again, all jacks are different, but if you’re using the cheap kind you’ll just have to use the hand crank. Once the car is back on the ground, move the jack from under the car and put it aside.
Step 8 – Fully Tighten The Lug Nuts
Now you’re ready to tighten the lug nuts on your spare tire. But don’t tighten them fully in order. Start on the left side and tighten it 50%. Do the same on the other side. Then go to the top and do the same thing, then the bottom, etc. The pattern really isn’t important. Just make sure you “criss-cross” instead of going in order. Once they are all tightened to 50%, go back and tighten them all as much as you can.
Step 9 – Visually Check And Clean Up
You’re done! And you thought changing flat tires was hard!? Put your old tire and your tools back into the truck of your car. Make sure you haven’t left anything! If you used a road flare, dump some water on it if possible. Otherwise, wait until it burns out before you leave. Most flares only burn for about 15 minutes. If you want to dispose of the flare or take it with you (be kind to the Earth!), be absolutely certain it has cooled off. Flares are designed to cool off very quickly after extinguished, but double check to be certain.
Step 10 – Stop At The Nearest Gas Or Service Station
Drive very carefully to the nearest service station. Most spare tires aren’t designed to go over 50mph, but go extra slow at first. Once you get to a gas station, double check the tire to make sure it’s still snuggly attached to the vehicle. You’ll also need to check the tire pressure as it’s probably not correct. Add or remove air as needed. The correct tire pressure should be located on the drivers side door frame or in the owners manual. Spare tires are only meant as a temporary solution, so get it changed ASAP! After changing flat tires, you need to check the spare frequently.
That’s it, my friend! Nothing more to it! Changing flat tires is easy! So next time, you don’t have to suffer the embarrassment of being clueless. If you’re a guy, it’s just something you should know and people will laugh at you if you don’t. If you’re a girl, well, nothing is sexier than a girl changing a spare tire. Ok, maybe I can think of more sexy things. But still, it’s pretty awesome to know how to do it! So congratulations, man or woman, you just became cooler by becoming an expert of changing flat tires!
Unraveling the Common Causes of a Flat Tire
Now that you know how to change your flat tire, it’s important to know what causes them in the first place. Remember that prevention is the key to avoiding unwanted circumstances such as having a flat tire. So here you go.
Being punctured by a sharp object. This is perhaps the most common out of the common causes of flat tires. Nails or shattered glass left along the driveway or parking area are usually the culprits. To avoid this, you simply have to be extra careful and avoid driving around debris if possible.
Your tire gets over-pumped. This will result in a blown-out tire, so be very careful when applying pressure to your tire. Make sure to check the recommended air pressure to avoid miscalculation.
Your tire gets separated from its rim after a collision. This usually occurs when drivers rub the wheel too sharply, usually against the sidewalk when you are parking your car. What happens here is that when the tire slips from the rim, it causes a slow loss of air – this is hard to fix and may require the help of a mechanic. However, it can be avoided by simply being careful when you park your car.
Air leaked from your tire bead, causing a flat tire. This one is easy to check – you just need to spray the valve system and the wheels with soapy water. If your tire bead is leaking, you will see a steady stream of tiny bubbles.
There’s damage to your valve stem. When a valve stem gets corroded or damaged, there will be an air leak in your tire, and eventually, make your tire flat.
Your tire has seen enough. If you haven’t replaced your tire for a long while, be ready to face a flat tire sooner or later. This is probably the most dangerous cause of a flat tire, as it can blow out even when you’re driving on the road, putting you and the vehicles around you at risk.