Changing a Tire
by Kevin Schappell
It always happens at the worst times! You need to know how to change a tire even if you have an auto club membership. Depending on where you get a flat, there may not be a phone nearby to call a tow truck. Let's take is step by step and always remember to read your owners manual, there will be detailed instructions relating to your car there. I should mention also a few tips for getting to the side of the road safely if you have a blow-out on the road.
- Stay calm, do not panic
- Slowly take your foot off of the gas and let the vehicle coast to a stop.
- Do not make any sudden braking or steering actions.
- Put your flashers on to alert other drivers.
- Now that you are safely off of the road.
Step 1: Make sure you are on firm level ground and away from traffic. If you are not, then try to drive to a better spot, but only if you can do it safely. Avoid going back onto the road and into traffic.
Step 2: Set your emergency brake and put the car in Park or 1st gear if you have a manual transmission. Make sure the engine is turned off.
Step 3: Locate the spare tire, jack, and lug wrench. These are usually located in the trunk underneath the carpet on cars. Trucks usually have the jack and lug wrench behind the seat or under the hood, with the spare tire under the bed.
Step 4: Typically there are instructions printed on the jack or somewhere near the storage compartment. Read these instructions, they will tell you where to jack the vehicle and any special steps you will need to take.
Step 5: First remove the hubcap or wheel cover. The lug wrench often has a flat end which you can use to pry off the cover. If not, a screwdriver will work just fine.
Step 6: Before you jack the car up you will want to break loose the lug nuts. The weight of the car will keep the wheel from spinning and allow you to apply more force to the nuts. You do not want to completely remove the lug nuts yet.... just break them loose. Once the lug nut begins to move, STOP and move onto the next one. I often carry a small pipe which will fit over the lug wrench. This pipe can provide additional leverage and allow you to get those stubborn lug nuts off. Always remember righty tighty, lefty loosy. Turn the lug nuts left or counter clockwise to loosen.
Step 7: Now it's time to jack up the car. Make sure you know where the manufacturer has placed jacking points by reading the owners manual or the instructions near or on the jack. Most cars will have a reinforced lip where the jack can be placed. If you can not locate this, look for a solid portion of the frame to jack on. Make sure the jack is on firm level ground and start jacking. Take it slowly and only go as far as you need to get the wheel off.
Step 8: The wheel is off the ground and it's time to remove the lug nuts. Use the wrench or your fingers to remove the nuts. Slowly take the wheel off and set it to the side.
Step 9: Get the new wheel and put it on the car. Tighten the lug nuts as tight as you can without the wheel spinning. Don't worry about getting the nuts super tight as you will do the final tightening when the car is off of the jack.
Step 10: Let the car down off of the jack and get your lug wrench. Tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern if there are five nuts. Start with one lug nut and skip the next one until they are all tight. If you have 4 nuts, just tighten the opposite nut from where you started and then the remaining two in any order.
Step 11: Replace your wheel cover or hubcap and clean up the jack, lug wrench and blown tire. If your spare tire had air in it, you should be able to continue your journey.
Finally: Remember if you have a temporary spare tire (AKA doughnut) you can only drive a few miles to a service station and usually not over 50 MPH.
Kevin maintains http://www.autoeducation.com where he gives advice on car maintenance, buying, selling, insurance, and financing. A mechanical engineer and car guy, Kevin has decided to spend his online time helping others learn about automobiles.
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