How to Change a Flat Tire
You need to be prepared for the worst in case you ever experience a flat tire and can't take advantage of roadside assistance. Everyone-even drivers with run-flat tires-should read this page and become familiar with how to change a flat tire. It'll give you the information you need to be ready for a flat.
Refer to your vehicle owner's manual to get specific instructions and recommendations for properly putting a spare tire on your make and model. Also, check that your vehicle is equipped with a spare tire. If it isn't, consult your dealership to find the best spare tire for your needs. The following recommendations suit most vehicles, but you should always become familiar with your vehicle before getting behind the wheel.
What to Do If Your Tire Goes Flat
If you get a flat tire while you're driving, stay calm. It can be a startling experience, but it's easy to get through it safely. Keep your hands steady on the wheel. Resist the temptation to swerve your steering wheel when the tire failure occurs. Take your foot off the gas. If you're in a safe position to do so, get the vehicle to the side of the road, out of the path of traffic. Once your vehicle has come to a stop, turn on your emergency flashers.
Put your car in park with the emergency brake on. Turn off the ignition. Now it's time to learn how to exchange your flat tire for your spare tire.
11 Steps to Putting on a Spare Tire You'll need these 4 items:
- Spare tire
- Tire iron
- Container to store lug nuts during the process
Note: Many vehicles come equipped with a spare tire, tire iron and car jack. Make sure to check whether this is the case for you. If your vehicle doesn't come with a spare tire or flat tire safety kit, ask your dealer to recommend supplies.
- Use your tire iron to loosen the lug nuts before you jack up the vehicle. Do not remove them completely.
- Locate the notches underneath the car where your jack should make contact. Line up the jack with these notches.
- Jack up the vehicle only high enough to allow you to change the flat tire.
- Remove the lug nuts one at a time in a star pattern. Keep the lug nuts in a container so you do not lose them.
- Remove the damaged tire.
- Place the spare onto the wheel.
- Tighten the lug nuts with your tire iron in the same pattern you used to loosen them when you removed the damaged tire. Do not tighten them completely.
- Lower the jack until your spare touches the ground and you can remove the jack from under the car.
- Finish tightening the lug nuts in the same star pattern. Make sure the bolts on the spare are very tight.
- Replace your safety kit in your trunk along with the damaged tire.
- Drive your vehicle to the nearest service station for a complete safety inspection and evaluation of the damaged tire.
Make sure to follow the speed and mileage directions on your spare tire or in your owner's manual. Spare tires that are not full sized often include safety restrictions. Use a spare tire only to drive to a service location for full tire repair or replacement. They are not a permanent solution.
Preventing Flat Tires with Maintenance
With a simple flat tire safety plan and quality service options, preparing for a flat tire can be a worry free process. Part of your flat tire safety plan should always be proper tire maintenance and regular inspection. Here are a 3 things to watch out for each month:
- Tread depth: Inspect your tire tread depth and look for any irregular or uneven wear patterns. Some irregular wear patterns indicate issues that can lead to blowouts. Ask your service professional to diagnose your irregular wear pattern.
- Inflation: Keeping your tires properly inflated will help prevent flat tires and blowouts. Rubber is a naturally porous material that allows air to escape. So make sure you check your air pressure monthly.
- Age: As tires age, their compounds can become weak. If your tires are more than 6 years old, have them inspected by a certified service professional to make sure they are still safe. If they're more than 10 years old, they need to be changed immediately.