How to Safely Change A Tire

Changing a flat tire is easier than you think if you know how to do it safely.

The most important thing to do before changing your tire is to make sure that you are in a safe location and that you are visible to other drivers who may be on the road. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CHANGE A TIRE IN A TRAVEL LANE OF A HIGHWAY OR ROAD. Pull the car to the side of the road as soon as you feel that your tire is going flat. If you get a flat tire at night, you should pull under a stop light so that other drivers can see you. It is a good idea to carry reflective cones in your trunk in the event that you experience a vehicle breakdown at night.

Also, be sure that your car is on flat ground. DO NOT try to change a tire if your car is on an incline because this can result in the car jack collapsing.

Open your trunk to access the jack. Simply pull back the carpeting to expose the jack and lug wrench and if applicable, the lug nut key.

Place the jack under the car frame with the wide, flat side on the ground and the smaller end that contains an indentation under the vehicle frame at the pinch mold. DO NOT JACK UP THE CAR YET.

Fit the lug wrench over each lug nut then break the seal by applying pressure. The lug nuts will be very tight so the easiest way to loosen the lug nut is to step on the wrench with your foot. Slow steady pressure will free the lug nut enough so that it can spin freely. If your car has a lug key, you will place the key in the lug nut then place the lug wrench over the key. Apply pressure with your foot until it spins freely. Loosen each lug nut but DO NOT REMOVE YET.

Be sure the jack is located at the proper place in the frame for your safety and to ensure against vehicle damage. If you are not sure where to place the jack, consult the owner manual.

Using the lug wrench, turn the jack knob until the tire is up and off the ground. Several inches is all you need. DO NOT SLIDE UNDER THE CAR WHILE IT IS UP ON THE JACK. Jacks are not very strong and they can collapse. BE CAUTIOUS OF YOUR JACK AT ALL TIMES.

Take the lug nuts off with your hands then remove the tire by just pulling it straight out. If the tire is stuck due to road dust and grime, just give it a gentle kick to loosen it up.

Most new cars come with a donut which is stored in the trunk beneath the carpeting in approximately the same location where the jack and lug wrench was stored. The tire is usually kept securely in place by a cap that can be hand turned. Be sure that the spare is not damaged.

Once you have freed the tire bring it to the car and slide it onto the tire pins then hand tighten the lug nuts on all of the pins.

Bring the car down by rotating the jack screw in the opposite direction. Once the car is securely on the ground you can begin tightening the lug nuts using the lug wrench. Tighten the top lug nuts first then the bottom lug nut. Next tighten the side lug nuts. Try to use the same amount of pressure when tightening each lug nut. It is important that you tighten the lug nuts evenly to ensure that the tire remains in place.

YOU SHOULD NOT DRIVE THE CAR A GREAT DISTANCE WITH THE SPARE TIRE. Spare tires are not meant to be used as replacement tires. They should be used to get you off the road safely until you can have your flat tire repaired or replaced. Your owner manual will provide you with information about your spare tire such as the maximum speed and distance you should travel.