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How to Change a Tire Yourself

Few things are as inconvenient as a flat tire, especially because they always happen when you’re late for work or have the day off. Since a flat tire is inevitable at some point, I figured it’d be a good idea to learn to change one myself. Sure, with a cell phone always on hand calling a tow truck is a cinch, so why waste time learning to change a tire you ask? Well for that time your cell phone battery dies, the tow company tells you it will be at least an hour wait, or dinner and movie were sub par and you need to impress your date pronto.

Before you can change a tire yourself there are some supplies you’ll need to be sure are in the car. Obviously, a spare tire but more importantly, one that is properly inflated, a jack and lug wrench (check the car manual to see where these are kept), the car manual, and a flashlight (in case your flat happens at night). Tire blocks are a good idea but not necessary, and also under the optional category are gloves and a towel (changing a tire can be dirty work).
Now that you’re ready for a flat here’s what to do when it happens. Pull safely off the road to a firm, level area, it’s unsafe to change a tire at an incline as the car may role and soft ground may make it difficult to jack the car up. Apply the parking brake, put the car in park, turn off the engine, and turn on your hazard lights. Just to be sure, take out all the supplies you’ll need. This step ensures you don’t jack up the car and realize you never put the spare back after cleaning out your trunk. If you have them, place the wheel blocks behind the tires (if a front tire is flat place the blocks behind the back tires or in front of the front tires for a rear flat) to ensure the car doesn’t role. If you don’t, look around for a rock or brick to use for the same purpose. If your car has hubcaps consult the manual on removal, it usually just requires some simple prying. Loosen the lug nuts by placing the lug wrench on the lug and turning counter clockwise. If the nuts are especially tight you may need to place weight on the wrench, even stepping on it with your foot. Only loosen them, don’t remove them completely. Place the jack under the proper spot on the car and raise it until it touches the frame. Consult the manual for where exactly to place the jack. Many modern cars have a marked area where the jack should be placed. The jack should never contact the car on a plastic area, as the plastic will crack. Once you’re sure the jack is in the correct spot, jack the car up until there is enough space to easily remove the tire and put on the fully inflated one. Six inches should be sufficient. Completely remove the lug nuts and place them in a safe spot. Remove the flat tire by pulling the tire towards you. Place the flat tire out of the way. Align the holes in the spare with the lug post and push until the tire won’t go any further. Now replace the lug nuts on the car and tighten only enough so the tire does not come off. Using the jack, lower the car back to the ground, than remove the jack. Tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern, meaning tighten one lug nut then tighten the one opposite it. This ensures that the pressure around the tire is even. Replace the hubcap if you had one. And finally, put the supplies properly away, there’s a good chance you’ll need them again. Congratulations!

Keep in mind that most spare tires are undersized, and not appropriate for long-term use. Make sure that you take prompt action to either repair your tire or buy a new one. If a purchase is necessary, you will probably have to buy a pair of tires so that your vehicle rides smoothly. Finally, if you notice any other abnormalities with your car or truck, get over to an auto shop as soon as possible. If you do need a qualified automotive expert, we can help. Just click here to request a free, no obligation estimate from a local, certified auto professional. Thanks as always from and happy driving!

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