Pro Tips for Changing a Flat Tire

flat tire

Let’s start with one of the most basic and common auto repair projects. I’m referring to how to change a flat tire on your vehicle. This can occur at your home or on the side of the road.

You can change a flat tire in about 10-15 minutes if you have all the necessary tools in your car or available:

  • Jack
  • Lug Wrench
  • Spare Tire*
  • Wheel Wedges
  • Vehicle Owner’s Manual

You need the spare tire to be 100% inflated per the manufacturer’s instructions. You should check the tire pressure of your spare tire just as often as the tires on the vehicle. This can be done at a nearby gas station or with a barometer.

I also recommend you have a flashlight and rain poncho in the car at all times should the flat tire occur in the evening or during inclement weather. However, these items are not necessary to complete the repair.

If you’re missing any of the items I listed above, you need to replace the item. You can purchase most of the items from a hardware store. You will need to purchase a new spare tire from a tire seller if yours is damaged or missing.

Here is what you need to do …

The first thing to do is to find a safe location to change the flat tire. This won’t be a problem if you are home or already parked.

If you are driving on a highway or busy road when the flat tire occurs, you need to slow down and drive until you reach a location far off the side of the busy road that is on flat, level ground.

You should also turn on the hazard lights in your car before you exit the vehicle and use the parking brake to prevent the car from sliding or rolling during the repair.

Then place wheel wedges in front of or behind the tires to ensure the vehicle does not roll. If you are replacing a rear tire you should place the wedges in front of the front tires. If you are replacing a front tire, you should place the wheel wedges behind the rear tires.

You can use 2×4 wood or a couple of larger rocks on the side of the road if you do not have actual wheel wedges in the car.

Then remove the hubcap from the wheel. This can be done with a pliers or sometimes just your fingers. Not all tires have hubcaps so you can skip this step if your vehicle doesn’t have any hubcaps.

Now place the jack beneath the vehicle frame near the flat tire. New vehicles often feature clearly visible locations to place the jack. The jack should fit securely on the frame before you attempt to raise the vehicle.

You can consult your owner’s manual for more clarity on the specific location to place the jack.

Now raise the vehicle using the jack. You want to raise the vehicle until the flat tire is a minimum of six inches above the ground. You should not put any part of your body underneath the vehicle during this stage in the repair. Be very careful as this step is dangerous if done incorrect.

remove lug nuts

You can now loosen the lug nuts along the tire and remove the tire from the wheel frame. If you had to remove a hubcap, I recommend placing all of the lug nuts inside the hubcap so they do not get lost on the side of the road.

Now slide the spare tire onto the lug bolts and tighten the lug nuts around the spare tire. Do not use the lug wrench to tighten the nuts during this step. Just tighten them with your hand.

Then start to lower the vehicle using the jack. Before the vehicle is on the ground, tighten the lug nuts again only this time use the wrench. Then lower the vehicle to the ground and tighten the lug nuts again until you are confident each one is 100% tight and secure.

Replace the hubcap and then put all the equipment and tools back in the trunk of the car. Be sure to place the flat tire in the car too in case the tire shop or mechanic is able to repair it. This will be cheaper than a new tire if a repair is possible.

You should now slowly drive to the nearest auto repair shop or mechanic and have them fix or repair the flat tire. I recommend Bridgestone® for your new tire if the old one cannot be repaired.