Today, with easy access to roadside assistance, being able to change a flat is a skill that’s gone by the wayside, but as long as vehicles have tires, this is something worth learning.
Spend a few minutes familiarizing yourself with at least some of the general steps of how to change a tire so you can help yourself in a pinch.
Before you start changing your tire, pull over as far from the road as you can and lay out your reflector cones if you have them.
Step 1: Remove the wheel cover (if you have steel wheels)
Think of your wheel cover like a can of paint. You need to use a flathead screwdriver and lift it against the wheel in a few places until it pops off.
Step 2: Get out your spare tire, secure your vehicle and loosen the lug nuts slightly
You’re going to be raising your vehicle and it might shake a little, so block your wheels at the other end (opposite of the flat) with bricks, rocks, or wood to prevent your vehicle from rolling.
Then, get out the lug wrench for your lug nuts (a cross-shaped tool) and find the end that fits your lug nuts. If you have aftermarket wheels, you’ll need to find the lug key that goes with your aftermarket wheel fasteners What you want to do is get each of the lug nuts loose (but leave them on) by turning the whole wrench counter clockwise.
Step 3: Jack up your vehicle
If you have a hydraulic jack, you’ll insert the handle and then pump up and down. It’s easiest if you get your hydraulic jack to do the work for you by taking it from the bottom to the top on each stroke. If you have a scissor jack, take the wrench or rod, insert it, and crank.
Step 4: Remove your flat tire
Finish taking the lug nuts off with your hand. Put your hands on each side of the flat tire and pull it toward your body. Your flat should slide along the lug bolts as you pull it off until the flat reaches the end of the bolts, and that’s when you’ll be holding your flat on your own. Roll it to the back of your vehicle for now.
Step 5: Lift your spare onto the lug bolts and replace the lug nuts
This is a tricky step for many people because tires are heavy, and it can take a few tries to lift the spare into place on the lug bolts. Use your wrench to secure the lug nuts into place for now. You’ll do the heavy duty tightening in a moment.
Step 6: Lower your vehicle and tighten the lug nuts
Turn your jack the opposite way to bring your vehicle back down to the ground. Once it’s there, tighten your lug nuts as much as possible with your lug wrench.
Step 7: Put your wheel cover back on
Be sure to use your hands for this step to avoid denting your wheel cover or hub cap with a wrench or hammer, especially if your wheel cover has a delicate finish. You’ll largely be patting it into place with your palm. Ta-da! You did it. You just learned how to change a tire.