You were driving down the road or interstate when the unexpected happens, a tire blows out or goes flat. You have never changed a tire before though it is a basic skill. Do not panic if you have a spare tire, a jack and a lug wrench you can change your own tire. Here are the steps of how to change a tire on your vehicle.
Remember these are general directions on how to change a tire. You should read your automobile's owners manual for the specifics of how to change the tire on your specific vehicle. So that you do not get as dirty it is helpful to carry a pair of overalls in the trunk of your car.
Step One: Get your car off the roadway. Your tire has just blown or gone flat. The first plan of action is to safely get off of the roadway. Though you may be startled and shaking from the shock of the blow out do not panic. Try to stay calm and to think clearly. If you are in the fast lane you will want to give other cars notice of your sudden slowing so you might put on your hazard lights. Slowly take your foot off of the gas pedal and let the vehicle begin to coast. When it is safe signal and move over until you are on the shoulder of the road. Slowly brake to stop the car.
Try to stop the car as far off the roadway as possible so that as you walk and work around the vehicle you will not putting yourself in danger by getting into traffic. If possible stop the car on level ground. An angled or hilly surface may make it unsafe for you to change the tire.Step Two: Put the vehicle in Park. If the car is an automatic put it into the Park position. Put the car into a gear such as first or reverse if the car has a manual transmission. This is to keep the car in position and so it will not roll away from you. Also make sure the vehicle's engine is off.
Step Three: Find the spare tire, jack and lug wrench. The first and most important item you will need to change a tire is a spare tire, without that you are out of luck and will have to call for a tow truck. The spare is usually located in the trunk beneath a flap of carpet. In trucks the spare tire is usually under the truck bed. In minivans the tire is underneath as well. And on some vehicles, such as jeeps, it is quite obvious where the tire is since it is attached to the back door.
The jack and lug wrench is most passenger cars are placed in the tire well where the spare tire is kept. Trucks might have these items placed behind the seat or even under the hood.
Step Four: Read where to place the jack. The vehicle's owners manual or the jack that was included with the car should have printed instructions of where to place the jack. This is probably the hardest part of changing a tire is to figure out exactly where the jack is to be set up on the car. It is not time to jack up the car yet, but you want to know where it will need to go and place the jack under the car in that position.
Step Five: Remove the hubcap wheel cover. The lug wrench should have a flat end with which you can pry the wheel cover off with. If it does not, locate your toolbox and find either a screwdriver or pry bar to use. If you have a wheel lock key, fit it to the wheel lock and place the lug wrench on it. Turn it clockwise until the wheel lock breaks free.
Step Six: Loosen the lug nuts. You will want to loosen the lug nuts but not remove them completely. You want the tire still on the vehicle when you jack it up. You are loosening the lug nuts while the car is on the ground because the weight of the car will keep the tire stable so it will be easier to break the lug nuts loose. Remember to turn left or counterclockwise to loosen.
If the lug nuts are hard to break free place the lug wrench on the lug nut until it is horizontal to the ground. Then stand close to the lug wrench and either stomp down on the wrench with your foot or even jump on it. This should crack the lug nut loose.
Step Seven: Jack the car up. As mentioned earlier be sure to read where your vehicle's manufacturer has said to place the jack. There should be a part on the car's frame that is reinforced so that the jack can be placed there. The jack should be placed on level ground use the handle to start jacking the car up. Go slowly and make sure the car is stable as it goes up. Never go underneath the vehicle while it is supported solely by a jack.
Step Eight: Remove the lug nuts and wheel. Once the car has been raised off the ground you can finish taking off the lug nuts. The lug nuts should have been loosened earlier so now use the lug wrench to finish taking them off. Once they get "finger loose" you can indeed use your fingers to take them completely off. Once the lug nuts are off, put them someplace safe so you can find them when it is time to put them back on.
Step Nine: Put the replacement tire on. Roll the spare or new tire over to where you have taken off the flat. Line up the wheel studs with the tire and place it on there. It should be an easy task.
Step Ten: Put back on the lug nuts. Once the new tire is put on find the lug nuts you have just taken off. Put on the lug nuts so that they are secure but you will not finish tightening them until the car is back on the ground and off the jack. So just start the lug nuts by hand and put them on as far as you can.
Step Eleven: Let the car down from the jack & tighten the lug nuts. Jack the car back to the ground slowly. Using the lug wrench tighten the lug nuts in the correct sequence. If you have four lug nuts you should tighten the first nut, then the opposite nut, then the one clockwise to the right and finally the one opposite.
Most cars have five lug nuts which would make you tighten in a sequence call the star pattern. It is called the star pattern because it is like drawing a star. You start with one lug nut, skip the next one and continue in that way until they are all tightened properly.
If you have six lug nuts the pattern is the same as when you had four just with two more lug nuts. No matter how many lug nuts you have do not just tighten them by doing one after the other going in a circle that will not allow the wheel to be tighten on properly.
Step Twelve: Replace the hubcap or wheel cover. Put the hubcap or wheel cover back on. This should be a simple snap on task. Replace the wheel lock mechanism if your vehicle had that extra.
Step Thirteen: Clean up. Put away your jack, lug wrench and blown tire. Do not just leave the tire on the side of the road. If you had a road hazard warranty on your tire you might be able to take the tire in and get a new tire pro-rated.
Step Fourteen: Drive off. Your replacement tire should be put on fine. If it is a small spare tire you will want to get it replaced with a normal size tire as quickly as possible. You also should not run the spare tire at high speeds. Nothing above 50 mph is recommended. If the spare feels low stop at a gas station and check the air pressure on it before continuing on your journey.
Do not expect yourself to have a NASCAR style tire change. NASCAR pit crews have 15 second stops because they are professionals with air powered tools. With your pure muscle on the side of the road it should take you between 15 to 30 minutes. Once you have done it once you will feel like a pro though.