If you drive, you need to know how to change a flat. Hopefully, you have some kind of roadside assistance program that will send someone out to change it for you, but you can’t count on being able to call to for help. Changing a tire isn’t difficult. You can do it. But you need to know how to do it safely. You face three dangers, getting hit by another car, being injured by your own vehicle due to improper jacking, and malfunction of your spare. Here are some tips for changing you tire without getting hurt.
Make sure you have all of the proper supplies in your vehicle at all times. These include:
- Owner’s manual
- Lug wrench
- Spare tire
- Key lock adaptor if required on your vehicle
Check your spare for proper inflation every time you check the rest of your tires. Also, check the age of your spare. If it’s 10 years old or older replace it, even if it looks fine and holds air.
Find a Safe Spot
You should jack up your car on a flat hard surface. Most importantly, you need to be safely out of traffic. A parking lot is better than the roadside. If you must change your tire on the side of the road, give yourself plenty of room, use your hazard lights, and set up flares and reflective triangles.
Changing Your Tire
Before your start, check all of your supplies. If you don’t have everything you need or if your spare is flat, you can stop now. If everything is in order, get all passengers out of the vehicle, apply the parking brake and block the tire diagonal from the one you are changing.
Check your owner’s manual for the proper jack placement for your specific vehicle. Remove the hubcap. Loosen, but do not remove, the lug nuts before you lift the vehicle. Jack the car up until the tire is no longer touching the ground and has enough clearance for you to remove it. Remove the lug nuts and tire. Put the spare on and replace the lug nuts, tightening in the order given in your owner’s manual. Lower the car and give the lug nuts a final tightening.
Read The Importance of Tire Safety for tips on how to avoid a flat or blowout in the first place.