How to change a flat tire

Tire blowouts and flats: It happens to all of us at some point. The key is knowing what to do when the situation arises. All vehicle owners should learn how to properly change a flat tire when help is far away.

The first step to making sure you can change a tire correctly is to have the right tools in your trunk. Every vehicle must have a jack, iron bar and spare tire in the trunk. Without these, it’s impossible for you to replace a tire and be on your way. Be sure to check out the jack and iron bar and test their function beforehand so you know how to use them when you get a flat tire. You may want to purchase a larger tire iron bar than the one that came with your car that can give you leverage and allow you to exert more force when trying to unbolt the tire bolts. Periodically inspect your spare tire to make sure it is properly inflated.

You may also need to carry a brick or plank of wood in the trunk, especially if you drive a lot in winter. You can use these items to place under your vehicle’s tires for traction and to prevent sliding in the snow.

Other items that are often overlooked are a blanket and work gloves. A blanket and a pair of gloves can help keep you clean while you kneel on the ground and change a tire. You certainly wouldn’t want to show up at a wedding or other important function littered with dirt and grease on the roadside.

If you get a flat or blowout while driving, pull calmly to the shoulder and stop far enough away to keep a safe distance from passing cars. Retrieve tire changing items from your trunk, including the jack, iron bar, and spare tire.

Put the jack in the correct place under your car. Most cars have etched notches on the bottom of the frame that let you know where to put the jack. Jacking into these notches will help ensure that your car does not roll or get damaged due to uneven weight distribution. You may want to use your blanket to lie on while you check where the notches are.

If your tire has a hubcap, remove it and place it upside down next to you. Use the wedge-shaped edge of the iron bar to pry it out if necessary. Then use the iron bar to remove the lug nuts holding the flat tire in place. Again, this can be difficult, but if you have a long tube attached to the iron bar, you can pry it up. Continue working until all nuts are removed. Place the nuts inside the hubcap so you don’t lose them.

Now that the lug nuts are off, remove the tire from the wheel base by pulling it toward you. Put the flooring in your trunk and get it out of the way. Then put the spare tire on the wheel and screw the lug nuts back into place. Make sure they are as tight as possible, using the iron bar to screw them on.

Lower the jack and put all the items back, including the hubcap and the brick or wood plank (if needed), in the trunk. You can be on your way with the spare tire properly installed. However, replacement tires are generally only rated for speeds up to 55 mph for a short period of time, so be sure to replace a new tire as soon as possible.

In the meantime, knowing how to properly change a flat tire will get you on your way quickly when the situation arises. Make sure you have all the tire changing supplies in your trunk before any trip and you won’t need the help of a fellow motorist or tow truck.

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