How to (Safely) Change a Tire on Your Car: DIY

changing tires on blue sports car

A flat tire never happens when you have the time or patience to deal with it. It always happens unexpectedly and when you have no room to add anything else to the top of your priority list. No matter when it happens, switching out your tire is a necessity because you cannot drive with a blown tire.

Knowing how to change a tire could mean the difference between being 30 minutes late and losing your job. It could mean you make it late to the family event instead of missing it altogether. Most importantly, it could also save you money from having to call your insurance company for roadside assistance or having to file a tire blowout insurance claim.

Fixing a tire is a skill that everyone should know, no matter their gender. It can be more dangerous waiting a long period of time in a place you are unfamiliar with than doing the physical work on your own.

#1 – Use Your Hazard Lights

The very first thing you should do when your tire blows is to turn on your hazard lights. Avoid braking hard, if at all, to avoid your vehicle from skidding off. 

It is best to let your car come to a natural stop on its own. The drag from the blown tire will cause friction against the ground, slowing the car down. 

Your hazard lights must be flashing throughout all of this to make yourself as visible as possible. Cars that are passing by you will attempt to get out of your way so you do not have to do it yourself. Veering out of the way of other cars risks more danger to yourself and others.

#2 – Find a Safe Place to Pull Over

Similar to various important steps you take after a car accident, you should pull over somewhere safe as your car comes to a stop and check that everyone in the car did not sustain any injuries after the tire blew out. 

Ideally, the safe place to pull over will be solid and level ground that will prevent your car from rolling while you are working on it. Your automobile should be far enough from the road to give you room to change the tire and to where you and other drivers passing can maintain visibility. It is also best to park in a well-lit area if possible.

#3 – Gather Your Materials

Once you have parked your car, ensured every passenger is safe, and have turned your hazard lights on, you need to check that you have the bare minimum materials needed to change a tire. This will be a jack, wrench, and a spare tire. 

Normally, these items will be stored in your trunk as these products usually come with your car at the time of purchase. If you do not have these materials, you will need to call roadside assistance as soon as possible. 

However, changing a tire will go smoother with these additional items: 

       Tire gauge

       Vehicle’s owner manual

       Flashlight

       Gloves

       Rain poncho

       Knee pads or a mat for kneeling 

These additional items are not a necessity, but adding them to your car as a preventative measure can be beneficial. 

#4 – Loosen the Lug Nuts

old tires

After gathering the materials and any additional items that will make the process either, the first step you should take in removing your flat tire is to loosen the lug nuts.
 

Some vehicles have a wheel cover (or a hubcap), and you will have to pull it off before placing your wrench onto the lug nut. Once the wrench is on the nut, turn it counterclockwise to loosen it. You should ONLY loosen the lug nut and not remove it completely. Repeat this process with the remaining lug nuts on the blown tire.

#5 – Lift Your Vehicle off the Ground

Position the jack that you pulled from your trunk directly under a metal part of your vehicle’s frame. If you place the jack on anything other than metal (like plastic), you will risk a part of the car breaking, the car collapsing, or both. 

With the jack in position on the metal frame, crank it to lift your car off the ground. You should lift it high enough to pull the tire off and should ensure the jack remains perpendicular to the ground. As a caution, consulting your owner’s manual to be sure you are placing the jack in the right position can prevent any mishaps.

#6 – Remove the Lug Nuts and the Tire

With the vehicle lifted high enough off the ground, use the wrench to remove the lug nuts completely by turning the wrench counterclockwise. Store the lug nuts in one safe place because you will need them at the end. 

Once all the nuts have been removed, securely grab the tire and pull it straight off the car. Place the blown tire in your trunk.

#7 – Place the Spare Tire on the Car

Line up the holes on the spare tire with the lug nut posts on the car and then slide it into position. Be sure to push the spare tire as far back as it will go. 

Your spare tire is only intended to be driven for no more than 70 miles and should go no faster than 50 miles per hour. So you should aim to replace your blown tire at your earliest convenience after finishing securing the spare.

#8 – Replace the Lug Nuts

Put the lug nuts back onto the posts before securing them with the wrench. Turn the lug nuts clockwise in increments, altering between every other nut with the wrench. A good order to tighten the lug nuts can be 1, 3, 5, 2, 4, and repeating until they are all as tight as they can be. 

Tightening your lug nuts in an alternating pattern helps you to keep the tire on straight. If the tire is not secured in a straight alignment, the car will drive funny and can ruin the entire alignment of your car.

#9 – Lower Your Vehicle Completely and Finish Tightening

After ensuring your vehicle is secured properly, you can lower your jack by slowly releasing the crank function. Once the car is lowered all the way to the ground and the jack is removed, attempt to tighten the lug nuts a little more to double-check they are secured. 

You should also double-check that you're spare is placed onto the posts in a straight manner before driving off to avoid dealing with car repairs you cannot afford. 

You should finish up by placing your blown tire in the trunk (if you have not already) and any other tools you used in the process. Once you have driven off and arrived at a safe location, you should contact a trusted mechanic to replace your tire. A trusted family member who knows how to properly fix a torn tire can serve just as well. 

Imani Francies writes and researches for the car insurance comparison site, CompareCarInsurance.com. She earned a bachelor of arts in film and media and specializes in various forms of media marketing.

 

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