Advertisement

How to Change a Flat Tire Quickly and Safely

Driver changing spare tyre after accident. Broken and flat car wheel after crash. Man fixing problem with jack.
How to Change a Flat Tire Quickly and Safely Getty Images


"Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through these links."

It may only happen once or twice in all the years that you're driving, but sooner or later you're going to have a flat tire. And it's inevitably going to happen at an inconvenient time, at a place far from your driveway or parking garage, and too far from a gas station or tire store for you to limp your car in for help. Which means that you're going to have to change that flat tire yourself. Not to worry: you can do it, even if you've never done it before. Just follow the five simple steps in the accompanying video clips to see how to change a flat tire quickly and safely.


Step 1 The moment that you hear that awful thumpa-bumpa-rumpa and feel the whole car shivering and shaking, it's time to slow down and find a safe place to stop your vehicle. You want to get as far away from traffic as possible and park on level, solid ground. Shift into "park"—or reverse gear if your vehicle has a manual transmission—and set the parking brake. You want the car stable, unable to roll off the jack that you will use to raise it off the ground.


Step 2 Locate the things you'll need to change the tire: the spare tire, jack, and lug wrench. In most vehicles, they're located in a compartment beneath the load floor of the trunk or rear cargo area. Some vehicles, like pickup trucks and SUVs, have their spare tires stored under the rear of the vehicle. Consult your owner's manual on how to access these tires. Before you jack the car up, use the lug wrench to loosen the lug nuts that hold the wheel in place. Loosen them just slightly, but do not remove them until the car is up in the air. Locate the jacking points underneath the car, which are usually found below the doors, just behind the front wheels and ahead of the rear wheels. If they're not obvious when you look under the car, consult your owner's manual for their location.

ADVERTISEMENT

Note: Some of today's newest vehicles don't carry spare tires; some roll on what's called "run-flat" tires that can drive for short distances at reduced speeds after losing air. If your car has run-flats, you'll be able to get to a shop to replace the tires. If your car has normal tires but no spare, it probably has a can of spray-in tire-patch compound and an inflator kit that together may enable you to seal the puncture and reinflate the tire. If that works, remember that this is a temporary fix. Consult your owner's manual on how to execute this temporary repair, and proceed to a tire store to replace or repair the tire as soon as possible.


Step 3 To ensure that the car is locked into its position and won't roll when jacked up, find something to wedge under the tire on the opposite side of the vehicle from the flat tire. It can be a brick, a block of wood, or even a large rock. Don't worry if you can't find an appropriate wheel chock, though; this is an optional step. If you can't locate something to jam under the opposite-side tire, you can still complete a safe tire change. Place the jack under the jacking point that's closest to the flat tire and turn the jack handle to raise the car until the flat tire clears the ground—and then raise it another inch or two.


Step 4 Now you can finish loosening the lug nuts. Remove them and place them in a convenient spot nearby—but not so close by that you risk stepping on them and scattering them. Pull the flat tire off, set it down out of the way, and slip the spare onto the threaded studs that hold the wheel on. The side of the wheel with the valve stem (where you add air) should be facing outward, toward you. Center the wheel on the studs and screw the lug nuts back on, tightening initially by hand. Then use the lug wrench to snug them up—but don't tighten them fully just yet. There's one more step.


Step 5 Lower the car all the way, remove the jack, and tighten the lug nuts fully. After tightening one lug nut, move to one across from it and tighten that one, until you've tightened them all. You don't need to use all your strength; just lean into them as you tighten them. They'll stay tight if they feel tight. Return the flat tire, the jack, and the wrench to the trunk and you're finished!

For everything you need to know about buying and maintaining tires, click here.


Arcan XL20 Service Jack

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BMPFI6I?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.a.26012411%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Arcan XL20 Service Jack</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$149.00</p>

Shop Now

Arcan XL20 Service Jack

amazon.com

$149.00

Mechanix Wear Work Gloves

<p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0001VNZD2/?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.a.26012411%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Mechanix Wear Work Gloves</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$17.88</p>

Shop Now

Mechanix Wear Work Gloves

amazon.com

$17.88

Venom Steel Gloves - 100 Pack

<p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Y2OFGMW/?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.a.26012411%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Venom Steel Gloves - 100 Pack</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$19.15</p>

Shop Now

Venom Steel Gloves - 100 Pack

amazon.com

$19.15

Torin Big Red Steel Jack Stands

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00026Z3DQ?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.a.26012411%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Torin Big Red Steel Jack Stands</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$63.64</p>

Shop Now

Torin Big Red Steel Jack Stands

amazon.com

$63.64

Jaeger Ratcheting Wrenches

<p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B2VDFWY/?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.a.26012411%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Jaeger Ratcheting Wrenches</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$69.97</p>

Shop Now

Jaeger Ratcheting Wrenches

amazon.com

$69.97

You Might Also Like