How to change a car tire
Getting a flat tire is never fun. It always seems to happen at the worst time or in the worst conditions.
Knowing how to change your own car tire is an essential skill we all need to learn.
One of the first things you should do as a car owner is become familiar with the owner’s manual.
The owner’s manual is chock full of information on all aspects of your vehicle.
Read the section detailing the specifics of tire changes for your vehicle. It will tell you where to place the jack and where the spare tire and tools are stowed.
Failure to follow the directions could result in damage or injury.
What you need to know to change a car tire:
- Keep calm and safely pull over to a flat location.
- Park the car, remove spare tire and tools.
- Remove wheel cover and loosen nuts(don’t remove).
- Jack up the car, remove the lug nuts and tire.
- Install the spare tire and tighten lug nuts.
- Lower jack and fully tighten the lug nuts.
- Spare tire
- Lug Wrench
1) Keep Calm And Pull Over
If your are driving along and get a flat tire remain calm. It’s important not to panic and swerve off the road or into another car. Look at your surroundings and pull over when you can safely do so. Find a flat location to perform the tire change that is away from moving vehicles. Parking on an incline could allow the car to roll off the jack.
2) Park The Car And Remove Spare Tire
Place the vehicle in park on flat ground and turn on your hazard lights to make other drivers aware of you. If you’ve read the owner’s manual you know where to find the spare tire and jack. Take out the spare tire, jack and tire iron(lug wrench). Place them near the flat tire.
3) Remove Any Wheel Cover And Loosen Nuts
If you have a wheel cover it will need to be removed to access the lug nuts. Next, loosen the lug nuts with the tire iron, but only loosen them don’t remove them yet. Some cars have a ‘locking’ nut for security purposes so the tires don’t get stolen. If you have one of these find the special keyed lug socket located in the glove box or with the spare.
4) Jack Up The Car And Remove Tire
Place the jack under the car at the location shown in the owner’s manual. It will be a place reinforced to allow it to hold the weight of the vehicle. Make sure to place the jack at the right place, failure to do so could cause damage or injury. Jack up the car enough to remove the tire. Now remove the lug nuts completely and put them in a safe location. Remove the flat tire.
5) Install The Spare Tire And Tighten Lug Nuts
Install the spare tire being careful not to damage the lugs. Put the lug nuts back onto the car and tighten them using a criss-cross or star pattern. This helps insure the tire is evenly balanced on the lugs.
6) Lower The Jack and Fully Tighten Lug Nuts
Lower the car jack and fully tighten the lug nuts following the same cross pattern. Check again to make sure the lug nuts are secure and the spare tire is installed properly and full of air.
Put everything back in the truck of the car.
That’s all there is to changing a flat tire. But there is more to be aware of.
Most spare tires are small ‘donuts’ that are intended to get you to a service station. They’re not meant to be driven on for weeks. These spare tires also should not be driven over 50 MPH.
Cars usually have scissor jacks. These are compact and open up like and accordion. You crank them up and they spread apart to lift the car.
The lug nuts are probably on there really tight. Loosen them by turning the lug wrench counterclockwise. If they won’t budge you can use a hollow pipe to fit over the wrench for added leverage. If you have to you might be forced to hammer on the wrench with whatever you can find to break loose the nuts. Be careful whatever you do.
Knowing When To Buy New Tires
There is an old tried and true check you can perform to help determine if your tires are too worn.
Place a penny into the tread of the tire. If Lincoln’s head is visible your tire tread is too worn and you should purchase a new tire. If Lincoln’s head is covered that indicated an acceptable amount of tread left on the tire.
Ideally though, check with a service station or tire shop. They can assist you and tell if you have uneven wear patterns or otherwise need new tires.
Extend the life of your tires by ensuring they are kept at the proper air pressure at all times. Check them monthly. It will extend the tire’s life and you’ll get better gas mileage.
Tire Maintenance You Should Be Doing
Optimal tire performance can be achieved with proper air pressure, adequate tread and tire’s balanced and vehicle properly aligned.
As I mentioned check your tire pressure monthly and while you’re there notice the tread wear. Don’t forget to periodically check the spare tire too.
Have the tires rotated at about 5,000 to 7,000 miles according to AAA. “Tires on the front and the rear of vehicles operate at different loads and perform different steering and braking functions, resulting in unequal wear patterns.”
Do I Need To Get An Alignment When I Have New Tires Mounted?
It is not required but it is a good idea. A misaligned car will prematurely wear down the tires. Most drivers don’t have their car’s alignment done so having that performed when buying new tires is ideal.
As noted above, this will increase the life of the tires and save money in the long run.
How Many Miles should A Good Set Of Tires Last?
It depends of several factors. But generally, all-season tires might expect to get about 50,000 up to 70,000 miles out of new tires, while a performance tire might see about 40,000 miles. In years this might be 4 or 5 years of driving.
Learning basic tire maintenance and tire changing skills are something everyone should do. You never know when you might get a flat tire and having the confidence to change it yourself is important. It only takes a few steps to get that flat swapped out and you back on the road.