National Tire Safety Week: How to change a flat

It's National Tire Safety Week and we think an awesome, independent gal should know how to change a tire. So here are the steps on how to do it. Keep in mind all cars are different. These are basic tips on the steps to take to change a tire, but not a guaranteed way. It's always good to have help, so don't try to do this alone the first time. Safety is always priority.

Now, for the instructions! First, you should be on a flat, stable and most importantly, safe place. You don't want your car to roll and you want to be sure you are not in traffic. Be sure to turn on your emergency flashers/hazard lights so other drivers know you are there.

Put your car in park. It's also a good idea to put something in front of the front and back tires to help keep the car stable, like a rock or spare tire.

Now, you will need your spare tire and your jack. It's a good idea to make sure you have these in your car at all times. You will have to place the jack under the frame near the tire that needs to be changed. Be sure you place the jack in contact with the metal part of your car's frame. Some cars have plastic on the bottom, so if you put it in the wrong spot, you could crack the plastic when you lift the car.

Next, you will raise the jack until it is supporting (but not lifting) the car. The jack should be firmly in place underneath the vehicle and it should be perpendicular to the ground.

Now that your car is elevated, you can remove the hub cap and loosen the nuts by turning counterclockwise. You don't need to take them all the way off. You should either use the wrench that came with your car or a standard cross wrench. If your wrench is the correct size, it will slip easily over the nut, but will not rattle. Be prepared to work a little, as it can take some force to break them free.

t2 Hubcap.

t3 Lugnuts.

Pump or crank the jack to lift the tire off the ground, getting it high enough to remove the flat tire and replace it with a spare. As you lift it up, make sure that the car is stable. If it appears unstable, lower the jack and fix the problem before lifting the car all the way up. If the jack lifts at an angle or starts to lean, lower and reposition it so that it can lift straight up.

Remove the nuts the rest of the way. Turn them counter clockwise until they are loose. Repeat with all lug nuts, then remove the nuts completely.

It's time to remove the tire. Place the flat tire under the vehicle so in the event of a jack failure the vehicle will fall on the old wheel, hopefully preventing injury. Then, place the spare tire on the hub. Be sure to align the rim of the spare tire with the wheel bolts, then put on the lug nuts.

Tighten the nuts by hand until they are all snug. They should turn easily at first. Using the wrench, tighten the nuts as much as possible, but not one at a time. Going in a star pattern around the tire, one nut across from another, give each nut a full turn until they are equally tight.

Lower the car without applying full weight on the tire. Tighten the nuts as much as possible. Finally, lower the car to the ground fully and remove the jack. Finish tightening the nuts and replace the hubcap.

Lastly, put the old tire in your car and take it to a mechanic or a shop. If the tire has a small puncture, it could be repaired. If it's not repairable, you can get a new tire and the shop will take care of disposing of the old tire.

Sounds easy, right? It's not a bad idea to practice this in your driveway so you have it down. Under pressure on the side of the road is definitely not the best place to try this. Give yourself the opportunity to do it a couple of times before you try it in the case of an emergency. As always, be careful and be sure to stay out of traffic.


related topics: safety, flat tire, tips

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