A Step by Step Guide to Changing Your Car Tire

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Changing your first flat tire is a rite of passage for any motorist. Unfortunately, these unfortunate incidents always seem to happen at the most inconvenient times. Either you’ll be in the middle of nowhere on a dark night, or you’ll have the whole family in tow, all dressed up in their Sunday best.

Unless you want to wait for professional roadside assistance, you only have one choice, you’ve got to get out and change that tire yourself. If this is your first time, you might be a little wary, but rest assured this is a basic mechanical task that any novice should be able to handle with the right equipment.

Here’s what You’ll Need

Before getting started, you do want to make sure you have all the right tools at hand otherwise you may have no choice but to call in the professionals. The essentials are:

  • A jack
  • A lug wrench
  • An inflated spare tire

If you’re missing any of these tools, then we suggest getting replacements right now, to prevent any sticky situations in the future. You might also want to pack:

  • A flashlight for better visibility
  • Gloves, because your hands will get greasy
  • Wheel wedges, to help secure your car in place.
  • Lubricating oil

If you’re sure you’ve got all the right equipment then here’s what to do next.

How to Change a Car Tire

Safety First

Don’t just stop where you are, you want to slowly guide your car to a straight, well-lit location that’s away from oncoming traffic. Once you’ve found a suitable parking spot, engage your hazard light and turn on your hazard lights.

Next, apply the parking brake to stop your car shifting, as an added precaution you can wedge the front and back wheels in place using a brick or some other blunt, heavy object.

Get Out Your Jack, Lug Wrench

Check if your car has a hub cap, or wheel cap cover; these will need to be removed in order to gain access to the wheel nuts, usually the flat end of your lug wrench will serve for this purpose. Once you’ve got any covering off, apply counter clockwise to each wheel nut in turn, to loosen slightly.

If you can’t get them to budge apply some lubricating oil, if necessary add to the downward force by leaning the wrench level with your foot. Under no circumstances, should you shift the wrench upwards, in an attempt to work the nut loose.

Now, get your jack and post it under your car. Check your car owner’s manual to find the best spot for applying the jack, usually there will be a pre-made groove on the underside of the car. Choosing the wrong spot can damage the frame, and make the car unstable, so be careful. Turn the handle clockwise until you have enough clearance to remove the flat tire, and install the replacement.

Finally remove the loosened wheel nuts completely and take off the flat tire, place this under the car to act as an added barrier, in case the jack fails.

Attaching the Spare Tire

Attach the spare tire in front of the wheel well. Line it up with the empty wheel bolts, and then begin attaching the wheel nuts, to secure the tire in place. Once each nut is in position, tighten using the lug wrench; do not tighten them completely just yet.

Lower the vehicle by turning the jack handle counter clockwise. Once the car is resting solidly on all four wheels, replace the jack in your car trunk. Now you can finish the job of tightening your wheel nuts by hand, make sure there’s no give.

Finally refit the hub cap or wheel cover, and return the rest of your tools and your flat tire to the car trunk. Remember, spare tires are generally smaller and only used for covering short-distances. Make sure to get your original tire repaired or replaced as soon as possible.