How To Change A Tire
How to change a tire? It’s easier than you think. Promise!
By Aaron Gold
What You’ll Need:
– Spare tire
– Jack and lug nut wrench (these will come with the car)
– Wheel chocks (buy them at an auto parts store)
– A car with a flat tire
What You Might Want:
– Work gloves
– A large plastic garbage bag
Note: Before tackling how to change a tire, read the instructions in your owner’s manual. Change the tire in a place well away from traffic, and when the car is jacked up, keep your body parts out from under it. A car falling on your tootsies can really ruin your day!
Some cars come with tire repair kits (consisting of aerosol tire sealant and a compressor) instead of a spare tire. If this is the case, you won’t need to remove the flat tire from the car. Follow the instructions in the manual to pump up your flat tire.
Ready? Okay, here’s how to change a tire
1. Park your car on a flat surface, well away from traffic. Never, ever, ever change a tire on an incline or in a place where passing vehicles might hit you or the car.
2. Put the car in Park (automatic) or reverse (manual) and set the parking brake firmly. Put on your work gloves to keep your hands clean.
3. If you have wheel chocks, block the front and back of the wheel diagonally opposite the one with the flat tire. You can also use a couple of large rocks or big pieces of wood. (These provide extra protection against the car rolling and falling off the jack.)
4. Take out the spare tire, jack and wrench (they should all be in roughly the same spot). Most vehicles store the spare under the trunk floor, but some trucks, SUVs and vans sling them under the bodywork. If this is the case, you’ll probably have to turn some sort of a bolt to lower the spare. Your owners manual will tell you how to change a tire on your particular vehicle.
5. Use the lug-nut wrench (usually a bent bar of metal with a hex-shaped socket on one end) to loosen the nuts on the wheel with the flat tire. Don’t take them all the way off; just loosen them a couple of turns. It may require some serious muscle (or skillful use of body weight) to loosen the nuts. (Stuck lug nuts sometimes make a cracking sound as they come loose. Guys refer to this as “cracking the nuts” and it usually makes them giggle.)
6. Following the instructions in the owner’s manual, put the jack in place. Make sure it contacts the bottom of the car exactly where the owner’s manual says; otherwise you can damage the car’s body and you run a greater risk of the car falling off the jack. Jack the car up just high enough to lift the flat tire off the ground.
Don’t put your feet, hands, legs, or any other body part anywhere under the car – you don’t want them to get squished if the car comes off the jack.
7. Remove the lug nuts completely and put them someplace they won’t get lost.
8. Pull the wheel straight off the car. You may have to rock it back and forth. Be careful – it’s heavy! Most wheel-and-tire combos weigh between 25 and 40 pounds.
9. Optional: If your car’s spare is stored inside the car, you can put the flat tire and wheel into a garbage bag to keep the inside of the car and your clothes clean. If your vehicle slings its spare under the body work, there’s no rule that says you have to put the flat tire in its place; you can toss it into the trunk, but be sure to crank up the cable mechanism that normally holds the spare in place.
10. Stand the spare tire upright and roll it into place. Rotate the wheel so that the holes line up with the lugs (the metal posts that the wheels bolt onto). Use the jack to raise or lower the car to get everything to line up.
11. Slide the spare tire onto the lugs.
We like to rotate the wheel so the holes line up with the lugs, slide the wheel on the top-most lug, raise the car slightly with the jack (just enough to lift the new wheel off the ground), and then push the wheel into place.
12. Screw on the lug nuts and finger-tighten them. Be sure the wheel is pushed all the way onto the lugs.
13. Now it’s time to tighten the lug nuts using the wrench. Tighten one nut, then tighten the one directly opposite. (If your car has five lug nuts, you’ll be working in a star pattern.) Use this cross-pattern to tighten all of the lug nuts. Vroomie tip: If the wheel rotates when you tighten the lug nuts, you can ask an assistant to step on the brake pedal. If not, do the best you can.
14. Use the jack to gently lower the car to the ground. Put the jack back in its hidey-hole, but don’t put the lug wrench away just yet.
15. Tighten the nuts again, using the same cross-pattern. Get those lug nuts as tight as you can!
16. Remove the wheel chocks.
17. Pause for a moment to bask in your awesomeness, you tire-changing Vroomie!
18. Drive the car about ten miles, then re-tighten the lug-nuts one more time, using the cross-pattern.
19. Some light-weight temporary spare tires have a speed limit (usually around 55 MPH). Take it seriously. Remember that your car may not ride or handle as well with the spare in place, so drive carefully.
20. Get the flat tire repaired or replaced as soon as possible. If the puncture is in the tread (the part of the tire that contacts the road), most tire shops will repair it (though most new-car dealerships won’t; they’ll try to sell you a new tire). If the damage is to the sidewall (the vertical part of the tire), repairs aren’t possible. Some tires have to be replaced in pairs, so don’t be surprised if the tire dealer tells you to buy two. Ask the tire repairfolk to store your spare, jack and lug-nut wrench in their original places so you’ll know where to find them if you have another flat.
See, Now Wasn’t That Easy?
21. Brag to all your friends who will stare at you with wonder!