Changing tires is a skill and everyone who drives must learn it. Having a cell phone with the helpline is a good idea but it may not work because of the dead battery of your mobile or no signals, or you may forget to keep or lose the mobile. Tire failure can occur anywhere and you may be left with the only option that is to change the tire yourself. Tire changing is an easy job. Just these tips and you are done. Not a giv'n'r. Just be skookum. That’s it!
To fix the flat tire, you need the following things
When you buy your vehicle, these items are a part of it:
- Lug wrench
- An extra tire that is fully inflated
- Manual of the vehicle owner
In case you have missed these items or misplaced them somewhere, you must buy them at the earliest. Make sure that you keep the spare tire inflated as per the manual instruction according to the recommended PSI of the vehicle manufacturer. Also, you need to check the air pressure of the spare tire along with checking other tires. Do it every month and before going on a long drive or before carrying an extra load.
You may not get some items when you buy the vehicle but you need to keep them with you to inflate tires:
- Flashlight with working batteries
- Rain poncho
- Small cut of 2"x6” wood to secure the jack
- Wheel wedges
How you can change the tire with an ease
1. Stop by a safe roadside
Do not suddenly apply the brake or take a turn when you realize that you have a flat tire. Gradually lower down the speed and keep an eye on the surrounding to find a right place to stop; a wide shoulder with an even, straight stretch. It will be ideal if you find a parking. Stopping on a level ground will resist rolling and it is better to stop here than stopping on turns as the oncoming traffic will be able to see you from a distance.
Never try to stop by a narrow shoulder near oncoming traffic. Go on moving until you reach a safe location. Replace the rim while driving on a flat risk.
Do not forget to consult the manual of your vehicle owner and understand the particular steps on how you can change a flat tire.
2. Make yourself known to others
Your flashers or hazard lights should be on to let the drivers know your presence on the roadside.
3. Apply the parking brake
Once you find the spot, use the parking brake when you are ready to replace the flat tire. It will help reduce the rolling of your vehicle.
4. Apply wheel wedges to fix the tire
Wheel wedges work to stop rolling when you fix the tire, they are in front of or behind the tires. Place them in front of the front tires if you want to change the rear tire. And put the wheel wedges behind the rear tire when you are fixing the flat tire at the front.
If you do not have wedges, take any wooden block, stones or bricks. They should be in the size to stop the rolling of your car.
5. Take away the wheel cover covering the lug nuts
If your vehicle is having a hubcap that covers the lug nuts, you will better be able to remove the hubcap before you lift the vehicle with the jack. And if the lug nuts are not covered, go directly to step 6.
The flat end of the lug wrench can be used to remove the hubcap. Generally, it works for most of the vehicles but in some vehicles, some hubcaps may need a different tool. Review the manual of your vehicle owner to know the procedure of proper hubcap or wheel cover removal.
6. Unknot the lug nuts
You need to turn the lug nuts anti-clockwise with the lug wrench until their resistance is broken. It may need using force and you may use your foot or all more force of all of your body.
You need to loosen the lug nuts about ¼ to ½ of a turn; their complete removal is not needed yet. Keep it like this until you remove your tire or wheel from the car.
7. Put the jack on the flat tire side
Put the jack under the vehicle on the side of the flat tire. There is molded plastic on the bottom that is made for the jack in many vehicle frames. See the manual again to safely lift the vehicle and to avoid damage to the vehicle, follow the instructions to place the jack.
8. Lift the vehicle
Put a small piece of wood in 2x6” size before you attempt to lift the car. It will stop the jack from settling under the weight of your vehicle and disturbing the balance. It will work especially on asphalt.
When you position the jack properly, lift the vehicle until you find the flat tire about six inches above the ground.
Avoid putting your body parts under the vehicle when you raise the vehicle with the jack.
9. Take the lug nuts away
Remove the lug nuts all the way. Unscrew them by hand. It’s easy as they are already loosened.
10. Take the flat tire away
Gripping the tire by the treads, pull it gently toward you until it’s completely free from the hub behind it. Set it on its side so that it doesn’t roll away.
11. Line up the rim with the lug bolts
Now line up the rim with the lug bolts and place the spare tire on the hub. Push it softly until the lug bolts are seen through the rim.
12. Tighten the lug nuts by hand and wrench
Put the lug nuts back on the lug bolts. You can tighten it with your hand. Check each one of them again when all of them are on and tighten them as much as you can. When you lower the car, tighten them with the wrench.
13. Tighten the lug nuts again and lower the car on ground
Lower the vehicle with the jack to make the spare tire rest on the ground but keep it in mind that the tire is not carrying the full weight of the vehicle. Here, you need to tighten the lug nuts with the wrench, turn them clockwise, as much as possible. Put your full weight and push down on the lug wrench.
14. Lower the vehicle completely
Now lower the vehicle to the ground and take away the jack. Pull the lug nuts once again to confirm that they are tight enough as required.
15. Replace the hubcap
If the hubcap that you took from the flat tire fits the spare tire, put it exactly the same way you removed it in the beginning. If it seems to be unfit, stow it away with the tire while stowing your equipment.
16. Pick all equipment up
Check the list of tools and equipments scattered on the ground. Do not forget to pick everything and keep it with you before you leave. Wheel wedges, flat tire, jack, a lug wrench, hubcap, and wheel wedges: all you need to keep with you.
17. Check the pressure in the spare tire
Before leaving, make sure that you have checked the tire pressure of the spare tire. “T-Type” temporary spares, also called “mini-spares,” need 60 psi (420 kPa). If the tire pressure is low, slowly drive to a service station right away.
18. Your flat tire needs to be checked
Temporary spare tires are supposed to be driven for short distance and at slow speed. So take care until you reach an expert tire technician. Get an expert opinion on it and then drive.
Time required fixing a flat tire
It will take not more than 15 to 30 minutes to get the tire checked and change it if needed. Just make sure you have not left any step at any stage.
It will be a good practice if you try it in your garage or any other place. Thus you will be able to better handle such situation if you are already familiar with the steps.
Some additional tips on changing tires
It is great to know how to fix a flat tire but it is equally important to take care of regular tire maintenance. Review this guide on regular basis. Also, do not forget to:
- Keep your tires inflated in an appropriate way
- Rotate your tires as per the guidelines given by the manufacturer
- Keep an eye on the tread wear
These precautions will save you from extra hassle, extend your tire life, and lessen the probability of a flat. Proper upkeep can improve the running of your tire and save it from flats.