Changing a Tire 101
Ever notice how inconvenient changing a tire can be? The ideal time and place to replace a tire might be on a clear afternoon, in the comfort of your driveway. The reality of the situation, however, is that flat tires often happen without warning, forcing you to change a flat tire at the very moment it occurs. Whether you’re traveling your usual route, or preparing for an exciting road trip with friends, becoming familiar with the process of changing a tire and ensuring that it is performed correctly is important.
A Step by Step Guide to Changing a Flat Tire
If you follow the steps below, you will find that changing a tire is not a complicated skill to master. It requires a bit of time, physical strength and the right tools. Because driving with an improperly installed tire can impact your safety, remember to approach the process of changing a tire step by step.
- At the first sign of tire trouble, turn on your hazard lights and attempt to carefully maneuver your vehicle away from any surrounding traffic before you begin replacing the tire.
- Engage your emergency break and then place the car in park before turning off your car.
- Place a solid object, such as a rock or wooden block, in front and behind the tires on the side of the car that is opposite the damaged tire. This will help prevent the car from moving when you begin to jack it up.
- Before you can begin changing a tire, locate your spare tire. In many car models, the spare tire is located beneath the floor of your car’s trunk. Others are often placed in a more visible area, such as the rear hatch.
- After removing the spare, locate the appropriate tools. This should include a jack and a tire iron.
- Take a look at the area next to your car’s tire. There is a smooth, flat surface beneath the car, where your jack should be placed.
- If your care has a hub cap, remove it and then use the tire iron to loosen the lug nuts on the damaged tire. This will make the removal of the lug nuts much simpler after the car has been jacked up. It will typically take a lot of force to initially loosen the lug nuts and you may have to step on the tire iron to apply enough weight to loosen the nuts.
- Use your jack to lift the car. Some jacks use levers, while others are operated by twisting the tire iron to achieve height. Make sure that the car has been jacked high enough for the flat tire to be removed and for the new tire, which will require more space than the flat tire, to take its place.
- Completely remove the lug nuts from the tire. Because they hold your tire in place, be careful not to lose these small pieces.
- With the lug nuts removed, you can change the flat tire and replace it with the spare.
- Put the lug nuts back in place and tighten them in a diagonal direction, in order to evenly apply pressure.
- Use the jack to slowly lower the car to the ground. Place your tools in their proper compartments and put the damaged tire into your trunk.
After changing a tire and replacing it with a spare, be sure to purchase a new tire as soon as possible. Spare tires are only meant to be used temporarily.
Some tire retailers offer to recycle your used tires with the purchase of a new pair. There are also tire pickup services throughout various cities that collect used tires from your home for commercial reprocessing.
Practice Tire Safety
Knowing how to change a tire is a skill that will benefit you for the rest of your life. Remember to keep these suggestions in mind, in order to avoid constantly having to put your change a flat tire 101 skills to the test. When you properly care for your tires, you will not only preserve the life of the tire, but also increase your car’s fuel economy and create a more enhanced driving experience for yourself and your family.
- Purchase a tire gauge in order to check your tire’s pressure. If the gauge displays a reading that is below the suggested tire pressure (find this number in your car owner’s manual, or on the tire placard – the information that is along the inner edge of your car’s door) place more air into your tire. If you find yourself placing air into the same tire frequently, there may be a leak. Changing your tire is the best solution for this issue.
- Do not attempt to continue driving your vehicle if you are aware that your tire is flat. Failing to address the issue could lead to a very dangerous situation otherwise.
- Check the depth of your tire’s tread. This can be achieved with the use of a quarter. Place the upside down coin into the grooves of your tire’s tread. If George Washington’s head seems to disappear, you have a safe amount of tread. If you can see Washington’s head, consider replacing your tire.
- Avoid potholes when possible, or drive slowly when you encounter them. These can damage your tires slowly over time, or could even cause a flat tire with enough impact.
- Overinflating a tire can damage it just as much as driving with an underinflated tire. This makes it important that you obtain the correct tire pressure suggested for your vehicle.
- Be sure to carry a spare tire in your vehicle in case of an emergency. Check this tire for air pressure just as you would any of the four tires on the vehicle. You wouldn’t want to be in a situation where you cannot use your spare because it is not in proper working condition.
- Keep an eye out for signs of alignment problems. Increased tire wear or a tire that is worn more than the others, may be signs of an alignment problem. An easy way to check your car’s alignment is to slightly loosen your grip of your steering wheel and pay attention to whether or not your car tends to pull left or right as you drive.
Motor Clubs Assist You with Changing a Tire
Although you may have read the steps for changing a tire and have become comfortable with the process, there are instances where you might need assistance beyond the basics of how to change a tire. This is when becoming a member of a nationwide motor club can truly benefit you. Using our state-of-the-art emergency dispatch system, we provide you with 24/7 consumer roadside assistance service for individuals, families, fleet and small businesses – to get you back on the road, fast. Call us at 1-844-6ENCORE or browse our site to learn more about our programs.