How to Deal with a Flat Tire
Let’s face it – flat tires happen. No matter how careful you may be, any car can succumb to an unexpected flat. But you can be prepared! Car manufacturers have made the tire change process simple so that virtually anyone can do it. And with our guide, you can be confident in your ability to change a flat tire!
Before you head out for a long drive, or even your regular commute, check your spare tire. Flat tires can’t be replaced with flat spares! You can also look at your tires – if you see any worn spots or skimpy tread, invest in new tires. You can even stop by our shop for a full inspection before any big road trips!
But even the most prepared drivers can encounter unexpected flats – not to fear! With this guide, you will be able to change your flat tire in 5 easy steps:
1. Find a safe spot to pull over. Look for a flat spot with a wide shoulder, the fewer cars the better. If you are on the interstate, taking the next exit is usually best if your car is able. Pull over as far onto the shoulder of the road as possible. Avoid parking on a curve where oncoming traffic can’t see you, or hills where jacking up your car can be dangerous. Turn on your hazard lights and set your parking brake!
2. Loosen the lug nuts. Most cars come equipped with a spare tire, simple jack, and lug wrench, so start by gathering these tools from your trunk. A flashlight, gloves, towel or tarp can also be helpful. Start by using the wrench to loosen the lug nuts. You may need to remove the hubcap or plastic covers to access the lug nuts. Do not remove them all the way at this step, but simply loosen. If you lift the vehicle before loosening the lug nuts, the tire will spin when you try to remove them.
3. Lift the vehicle with the jack. Make sure you place the jack in the appropriate place under the car. Some vehicles have marked areas behind each tire – check your owner’s manual for the specific location for your vehicle. Once you place the jack in the right spot, start lifting the car until it is about 6 inches off the ground.
4. Place the spare tire. Finish removing the lug nuts from the tire (make sure you keep them in a safe place so you don’t lose any!) and remove the flat tire by pulling straight towards you. Line up the spare tire with the lug nut posts and push it all the way onto the wheel base. Put on the lug nuts and hand-tighten them so that the spare will stay on the car when you lower the jack.
5. Lower and tighten. Use the jack to bring the car back to the ground. Tighten the lug nuts on the spare tire diagonally – tighten one lug nut about half way, then move to the opposite diagonally (across the wheel) and tighten half way, then finish tightening both nuts. Continue using this method to tighten the rest of the lug nuts. This helps to ensure that the tire is on evenly and won’t wobble as you drive.
Remember, spare tires aren’t meant to be driven on as far or as fast as normal tires. Drive carefully and head towards our shop to get your tire fixed or a new, full-sized tire put on right away.
Keeping your tires properly inflated and making sure they have a good amount of tread can help avoid the pain and expense of changing and possibly replacing a flat tire.