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Life is unpredictable. It might surprise you with things you are physically and mentally not prepared for. Although, you cannot be skilled to do each and everything on your own. But what you can learn for sure is: how to replace a flat tire yourself. It is because you might get a flat tire anywhere – a busy highway, a city road, or a deserted suburb. And you should be prepared for this uncertain scenario. Our stepwise guide will help you in this regard. So let us get started!
What You Will Need to Change a Flat Tire
Following is the list of equipment you will require to change a tire on a car:
- Jack (to lift the car)
- Wheel chock (to prevent the vehicle from rolling while jacked up)
- Wrench (to remove the wheel nuts)
- Wheel nut key (in case locking nuts are fitted)
- Car manual (to refer)
For utmost safety, you should carry these as well:
- Gloves (to touch the dirty wheels)
- Torch (helpful if you are working at night)
- Warning triangle (to alert other vehicles on the road)
- Reflective jacket (to keep you visible while working)
- Tire pressure gauge (to check the spare tire is inflated)
- Short plank of wood (to keep the jack steady)
The trunk or the boot space of your car should always carry all the equipment as mentioned above. You never know when an emergency arrives. You should check these tools time-to-time. You should also check the spare tire regularly for damage to its air pressure. This can ensure that even after learning how to change a tire, you are not stranded.
Simple Steps to Change a Flat Tire
Oh no, a flat tire? No cellphone network available or no garage nearby? Wondering how to change a tire? Worry not; our list of steps will get your car back on the road real soon. Just follow them judiciously, and you are good to roll again!
1. Park at a safe place
Once you are sure that your tire got punctured, do not just stop or turn abruptly. Instead, slow down and get on the leftmost side of the road. Move slowly till you find a safe parking spot. A wide shoulder or a parking lot will be ideal in such a situation.
2. Turn the parking lights on
If you have parked along the roadside, keep your flashers on to make your presence known on the road to oncoming vehicles. If you have a reflective jacket, wear it.
3. Prevent car movement
Once you have found a spot to change the tire, put on the parking or hand brakes. It reduces the risk of the car rolling backwards or forward while you change the tire. If you have, you can use the wheel wedges to prevent rolling. Else, a big stone or brick will also do.
(Note: If you happen to change the front tire, put the wedges behind the back tires and vice-versa.)
4. Refer to the Car Manual
Once you have parked, put on the safety hazards, and secured the vehicle from unnecessary movement, take out the car manual. Search for instructions to fix a flat tire. This is because instructions might vary according to the type of vehicle.
5. Take out the spare tire
The position of your car’s spare tire might vary depending on the vehicle type. The car manual will guide you about the same. Some vehicles might not come with a spare tire. In that case, you should buy one and keep it inside your car for such emergencies.
6. Take out the necessary tools
If your car is mechanized to carry a spare tire, it must also have a tool kit. Take out a jack and a wrench from the toolkit placed inside the trunk.
7. Remove the wheel cover or hubcap
Check if the lug nuts are covered or not. If not, you can move to the next step. Else, remove the hubcap before moving forward. Usually, this cap gets removed using the flat end of the wrench. Still, you should check the manual to confirm how to remove the hubcap.
8. Loosen up the lug nuts
Using the lug wrench, start twisting the lug nuts anti-clockwise. The nuts should be a little tight. So, you might need to push the wrench using your foot to apply bodyweight.
(Note: Only loosen the nuts and do not remove them yet. This step needs to be done before lifting the car via a jack.)
9. Jack it up now
Check the owner’s manual to decide the position of the jack. Most cars have a designated space to put the jack. Feel the appropriate jack attachment position and place the jack nicely. Now, lift the vehicle approximately 6 inches above the ground. Here, follow the jack instructions mentioned in the manual.
10. Take off the lug nuts
You can now unscrew the nuts which we had loosened before. Due to loosening it with equipment, you can easily unscrew it with your hands. Following this, take off tire.
11. Assemble the spare
Place the spare tire on the wheel hub. Make sure you properly align the rim of the spare with the lug bolts. Now put the lug nuts on the bolts. Screw them with hands and not with a wrench for the time being and follow the criss-cross pattern while screwing. First, tighten the top nut, then the exact opposite nut. Fixing the nuts in this pattern has two advantages. First, it reduces the chances of a wobbly wheel. Second, the nuts remain correctly intact when tightening with a wrench.
12. Bring it down partially
Bring the car down enough that the spare touches the ground. Do not let the entire vehicle weight rest on the tire. Now test the lug nuts. Tighten the nuts in the clockwise direction using the wrench. Use your feet to put the entire body weight for tightening it properly.
13. Bring it down completely
Now put the car down completely. Remove the jack. Check the nuts for appropriate tightness.
14. Put back the hubcap
If you had removed the hubcap, put it back. In case if it doesn’t fit the spare tire, keep the hubcap safely in your car. Also, do not forget to keep your tools back in the car.
15. Look for the tire pressure
If you feel the spare doesn’t have appropriate pressure, drive it slowly to the nearest air station. There, you can also get your flat tire serviced and then keep it as a spare in your trunk.
16. Visit the service station
Once you have reached home, take the car to your regular mechanic shop or service station. Give the flat tire for repair or replacement. Usually, the spares are meant for short travels. A tire technician will be the best person to guide you in this regard.
Important and Extra Tips on Changing a Flat Tire
Amazingly, you know how to change a flat tire. But if you follow the below tips, you might reduce the chances of a flat considerably.
- Monitor the tires for wear and tear.
- Maintain correct tire pressure.
- Double-check the nuts for tightening.
- Always keep a spare tire handy.
- Most spare tires can be operated at a minimal speed. Keep that in mind.
- Do not forget to keep your tools back in the trunk.
We hope these steps are easy to follow and will provide you with the necessary help when you need it the most. Just follow these easy steps, and we know you will be ready to get back on the road in no time!