Knowing how to change a flat tire is one of the most important automotive skills a person can learn, as it could very well mean the difference between making and not making an important meeting or appointment.
If you hear a loud pop from your vehicle while you’re driving, that is the signature noise meaning you have a flat tire. The first thing you’ll want to do is check your rearview mirror for the position of any vehicles behind yours, so you can safely make it to the side of the road.
Once you get out of the vehicle and know for sure the tire is flat, you’ll need to grab your spare tire. For most cars, the spare tire is located underneath the mat in the trunk, but for larger vehicles the spare tire is often mounted on the tailgate or underneath the vehicle. Use a tire pressure gauge to make sure your spare is inflated to proper levels, which is specified by your car’s owner manual.
Before you start removing the flat tire, be sure to make sure your car is in park, if you drive an automatic or in gear, if you drive a manual. Don’t try to change the tire if you’re stuck on a hill. You need to be on a flat surface, and it’s also beneficial to place something heavy in front of the tire that isn’t flat on the opposite side, because that will limit the car’s movement when you start jacking it up.
To remove the flat tire, turn the emergency brake on, then loosen the bolts or “lugs” with your tire iron. Rotate the wrench counterclockwise to loosen the bolts until you can remove them by hand. After the bolts are removed, put them somewhere you won’t lose them, then consult your vehicle’s owner manual to find the proper jack points on your vehicle, after that place your jack underneath and start cranking it to raise your vehicle. You can now remove the flat tire and align your spare over the wheel studs, which is typically the hardest part.
Once you have the spare tire hanging from the studs, you can start screwing the bolts back on with your fingers and then switch to the tire iron to tighten them up further. When that is completed, lower the vehicle and pull the jack away, then tighten the bolts on the tire one last time until you can’t get them any tighter.
At this point, you are ready to drive, but remember that many spare tires are usually smaller than your normal tires so they are only a temporary solution. These tires also cannot tolerate very high speeds, so don’t go over the speed that is written on the spare tire’s sidewall.
When all these steps are completed, it’s time to drive, and if you are fortunate enough to have a full-size spare tire, then you don’t need to worry about driving extra slow.