There you are, driving along at a pretty good clip when suddenly you have a blowout. The car is swerving this way and that and you are doing your best to maintain control. Your life flashes before you! Or maybe it’s not quite that dramatic and all that happens to let you know you’ve got a flat tire is the flop, flop, flopping sound of a tire that’s lost the will to live.
So now you need to change the tire on your car. Bummer, but not impossible. In fact, automakers have made this a very easy undertaking if you follow the steps properly.
Get To Safety
Get to a safe place on the road. There have been countless accidents involving people who are on the side of the road changing a tire and get clipped from an oncoming car. Especially if it is dark, it’s very important to guide your car to a safe place. Pull as far off the road as possible while still staying on the pavement. It’s much more difficult to change a tire when the car is in the grass. Insure that the tire that needs to be changed is on a hard, level surface.
Check your Manual
Most car manuals will have instructions specific to your make and model car. Hopefully you keep your manual in the glove compartment so this is the time to pull it out and follow it to the letter. Here’s a tip, if you’re ever sitting at a red light or railroad crossing, use that time to peruse your car manual and find the part about changing tires. Mark the page by folding down the corner and you’ll always be ready.
Removing the Tools
Sometimes the tire kit, which consists of the spare, jack and tire iron, is bolted and it may be difficult to remove if you are not strong enough to loosen the bolt on your own. Now’s the time to check that and have someone loosen it for you.
Find Your Notch
Most models have a small notch or indent molded into the body that indicates where the jack should be placed. Look for that 1-2 inch notch near the wheel, usually in front of the rear tire and just behind the front tire. Placement of the jack is important because if you don’t place the jack correctly you may crack the plastic on your car. Also, the car could fall off the jack if not correctly placed.
Raise the Jack
Once you have found the notch, place the jack underneath it. As you raise the jack you may have to maneuver it several times to get it just right. Use the tire iron inserted into the jack where indicated and using a circular motion, raise the jack just to where it is firmly against the indentation but not raising the car just yet.
Loosen the Lugs
Using the tire iron, remove the hub cap. You can do this by placing the flat end of the tire iron inside the edge of the hub cap and gently pushing on it. The hub cap should pop right off. Use the lug wrench on the tire iron to loosen the lug nuts. Do not remove them just yet. If you have trouble you can use your body weight to force the lug nuts free. Be sure you are turning in a counterclockwise direction.
Raise the Car
Continue to raise the jack until the tire clears the pavement. Completely remove the lug nuts and place them in the overturned hub cap for safekeeping. Then, remove the tire from the wheel.
Use the Spare
Line up the holes on the spare tire with the bolts on the wheel and firmly push the tire onto the wheel. Replace the lug nuts and, using a clockwise motion, tighten the lug nuts.
Lower the Car
Lower the jack and when the car is back on the pavement, tighten the lug nuts one more time. Replace all the tools along with the hub cap and flat tire into the trunk. Be sure to get to a repair shop relatively soon as the spare tire is not meant to be used as a permanent tire and there are limitations on speed and performance when using a spare.