How To Change a Tire In Five Steps

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Learn to change a tire like a pro

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The Importance of Knowing How To Change a Car Tire

Whether you're a hard-working professional, a homemaker, or a retiree, your vehicle is one of your most valuable assets. Subsequently, it can be a huge problem when it lets you down with something like a popped tire. This is why it's so important to always be prepared, and knowing how to change a tire, and what tools are needed to change tires, is one of the most essential skills you need to master.

However, there is more to it than simply learning how to remove tires from your car, because knowing how to properly change a flat tire means you have to be able to put the tire back on safely and securely too. You won't always have the luxury of doing this in the comfort of your garage, after all, since most flats occur when you least expect it - so this guide will help you identify the things you need to change a tire wherever you are.

The Importance of Knowing how to Change a Car Tire unsplash.com

The Five-Step Guide On How to Change a Flat Tire

If you get a puncture on your car tire, follow these five easy steps and you'll be back on the road in no time:

  • Step 1 - A burst tire is usually easy to identify from behind the wheel - here is our complete guide on tire blowouts to help your deal with it. But, if you're unsure whether your car tire might be flat, you may feel the car pulling to one side, feel vibrating on the steering wheel, and notice a change in the way the vehicle handles. If you don't have specialized run-flat tires, you should immediately activate your hazard lights and safely direct your vehicle to the shoulder of the road, out of the way of other motorists. Stop the car, secure the handbrake, and make sure the ground you're on is level and solid, as uneven or soft ground will hinder the replacement process or even make it unsafe.
  • Step 2 - Now, you will need to locate your spare wheel and tools. In most vehicles, these are usually situated under the floorboard in the trunk. If you own an SUV, van, or truck, the spare could be mounted to the tailgate or beneath the vehicle itself. When in doubt, consult your owner's manual. You will then need to loosen the lug nuts on the flat tire that needs changing using the lug wrench, but take care not to completely remove them just yet.
  • Step 3 - Next, you will have to consult your owner's manual to confirm the jacking points on your vehicle. It's recommended that some sort of stopper is wedged behind the wheels on the opposite side of the affected tire for optimal safety. Place the jack beneath the reinforced jacking point nearest the flat tire and raise the vehicle by turning the metal hand crank on the car jack provided with the tire kit. Continue doing so until the tire you're changing clears the ground completely.
  • Step 4 - Knowing how to remove a tire is the next step. Begin removing the lug nuts from the flat tire; set them aside in a secure spot out of the way so as not to lose any. Proceed to slide the tire off and place it out of the way, too. Retrieve the spare tire and position it over the wheel studs. This can be challenging, but you can try balancing the wheel on your foot while positioning it. Once the wheel is resting comfortably, retrieve the lug nuts and begin tightening them onto the replacement wheel just to a point where they won't fall out by accident.
  • Step 5 - Finally, lower the car to the ground and carefully remove the jack. Now that the tire is on the ground, you can tighten the lug nuts properly using the wrench as the tire won't rotate as you try to tighten each nut. Congratulations, you now know how to change a tire on a car. Don't forget to store the damaged tire in the place of the spare and return your tools to their original location before getting underway again.

If you need help finding the ideal tires for your vehicle, please take a look at this guide on buying tires.

Don't Forget to Put an Emergency Stop Sign freepik.com
Jack up a Car freepik.com
Tighten the Bolts / Nuts freepik.com
Remove Wheel Pexels.com
Install a Spare Wheel freepik.com
Inflate a Tire freepik.com

What Tools Are Needed To Change A Flat Tire?

New cars for sale in the US usually come standard with the tools required to change a flat tire. If you're unsure that this is the case with your car, or if it is a second-hand purchase and you would like to confirm that you have the right tools, these are what you'll need to look for:

  • Unless your car is equipped with run-flat tires, you will need a repair kit and/or a spare tire.
  • You will also need to ensure that you have a suitable lug wrench in your car.
  • It's important that you have a suitable car jack on hand. There are several different types - mechanical, pneumatic, or hydraulic.
  • It helps to have a rag on hand in the event that you need to change a tire that is too hot to handle. It also helps to clean off your hands afterward.
  • The owner's manual will provide detailed instructions on properly using the equipment, where to find it, and offer cautionary information.
New Tire Pexels.com
Jack Pexels.com
Wheel Wrench for Loosening Bolts / Nuts freepik.com
Compressor for Wheel Inflation freepik.com
Compact Tire freepik.com

What You Need to Know About Your Car’s Compact Spare Tire

While it is certainly important to know how to fix a flat tire, you also need to be aware of a few other things, especially if your spare is a compact tire. Firstly, because of their diminutive sizes and small contact patches, they usually have a very limited top speed and road life. The top speed limit will be displayed on the tire's sidewall and in the owner's manual. Remember that these are designed to be sufficient to get you to safety after a burst, not for long-term use.

It's also important to regularly check the pressure of your spare tire as it won't do you much good to replace one flat tire with another. Lastly, different vehicles have different tire fitting requirements based on the size of the wheels, which is vital information if you need to shop for a new one. Below is a tire-fitting guide that could help:

Rim width (inch)Min. tire width (mm)Ideal tire width (mm)Max. tire width (mm)
5,0155165 or 175185
5,5165175 or 185195
6,0175185 or 195205
6,5185195 or 205215
7,0195205 or 215225
7,5205215 or 225235
8,0215225 or 235245
8,5225235 or 245255
9,0235245 or 255265
9,5245255 or 265275
10,0255265 or 275285
10,5265275 or 285295
11,0275285 or 295305
11,5285295 or 305315
12,0295305 or 315325
12,5305315 or 325335
Compact Spare Tire freepik.com

FAQs

What other tools should I keep in my car?

Having either an air pump or mobile compressor/tire inflator at hand could prove handy if your spare wheel has deflated over time and hasn't suffered a puncture or blown out entirely. Removing a tire from a car is only necessary if you need to replace it with a new one.

What could cause a tire to wear very quickly?

There are several reasons this could happen, including improper inflation, misalignment, poor driving conditions, and much more. A professional must examine your wheels to provide a more accurate answer. Fortunately, many service centers in the USA offer free evaluations and advice.

What is my recommended tire pressure?

This will depend on various factors but manufacturers always provide these requirements. Most often, this information is displayed on a sticker located inside the door jam on the driver's side, as well as in the owner's manual.

What should I do if I don’t know how to change my tires?

Many insurance companies offer roadside assistance, which includes a call-out service for flat tires. So, if you don't know how to replace a tire, they will send a professional out to do it for you. We do advise educating yourself though, as the process itself isn't too difficult.

Can you change a tire without a jack?

In many cases, it may be almost impossible to change a tire without a jack - if you're able to get your car to an open patch of soil or sand, there is hope, however. Position the offending wheel on a patch of sand that you can dig out, wedge rocks or wood up against the axle, and dig around the wheel until it is resting solidly on materials you've jammed up against the axle. If you can free enough space around the tire to remove it, follow the step-by-step instructions above to safely change the tire, then shovel the dirt back into place before removing the makeshift jack materials.

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