According to AAA, 20% of Americans don’t know how to change a flat tire and 81% of the correspondents have experienced a flat tire so, unfortunately this is something most drivers will face. Even if you know how to change a flat tire, it’s not as habitual as pumping gas or washing your car. So, whether you’ve never changed a tire or need a refresher, it’s time to get up to speed on fixing a flat. You never know when you’ll end up stranded on the side of the road with no cell service! Here’s an easy 7 step guide to get you back on the road after a flat tire.
1. Find a safe spot
When you initially realize you have a flat tire, don’t freak out by braking or turning suddenly. Instead, slow down and look for a safe place to pull over to assess the tire. Wide shoulders and parking lots are preferable options. Be sure to turn on your hazard lights so that other drivers are aware of your road emergency. This will keep you safe as well as other motorists.
2. Apply the parking brake & review owner’s manual
After you’ve stopped the car, apply the parking brake in order to reduce the risk of the car rolling forward or backward. Once that’s done, consult the owner’s manual. Look for specific instructions for fixing a flat tire as some cars may have unique requirements.
3. Find your spare tire and required tools
The location of your spare tire depends on the type of vehicle you drive. In many compact cars, the spare tire is in the trunk under the mat or latch. Trucks and SUVs tend to store the spare tire under the vehicle. The owner’s manual will tell you where it is if you’re unsure. Tools required to replace the flat tire will almost always be found in the trunk. You will need a jack and a lung wrench.
4. Take off the hubcap or wheel cover / loosen lug nuts
If a hubcap is covering the lug nuts (these are in the center of the wheel), take this off before proceeding. Then with the lug wrench, loosen them counter-clockwise. They might be tightly fastened so don’t be afraid to apply body weight to loosen them. Loosen the lug nuts about one-fourth to one-half of a turn. Don’t take them off just yet!
5. Position the jack under the car and lift
Place the jack under the vehicle, next to the flat tire. Most cars have specific areas that are designed for vehicle lifts. Feel for it and make sure the placement is sturdy. Next, lift the car about six inches off the ground. Remember to keep your hands, feet, and other body parts away from the bottom of the car during and after the lifting process!
6. Remove the lug nuts and take off the tire
Now that your vehicle is elevated, take off the lung nuts. You should be able to twist them off with your fingers. Next, take off the tire.
7. Put on the spare tire and crew on the lug nuts
Put the spare tire on the wheel hub by aligning the rim with the lug bolts. Next, screw on the lug nuts using a star-shaped pattern starting with the top lug nut. This should be done by hand. Once that’s done lower the car and use the lug wrench to tighten the bolts.
Now remember, spare tires are meant to be temporary, so you shouldn’t drive long distances or at high speeds while driving on a spare! Visit the Tire Center at Robert’s Collision & Repair as soon as possible. Give us a call today or schedule an appointment online for your tires!