You’re not alone if you don’t know how to change a flat tire. In fact, according to a recent survey over 20% of U.S. drivers say they don’t know how to change a flat. After all, it’s not something we need to do every day unless you work at Hilltop Tire Service :)
You never know when you might end up on the side of the road with no cell phone reception. So, whether you don’t have a clue or just need a little refresher, here are 10 easy steps to get you back on the road after a flat tire, at least temporarily.
1. Pull over to the side of the road. Make sure you are parked in a safe, level area with plenty of space to work. Engage your parking brake and turn on your hazard lights (flashers). If it’s dark out, road flares or reflectors will give you added protection.
2. Get out the tools needed. Your spare tire is most likely found under the floormat of your trunk, or sometimes it’s underneath your car. You will also need a jack, and tire iron, which should be found near the spare tire.
3. Place a rock, brick, or other heavy object behind the tire. This will keep your vehicle from moving while you're changing the tire. If the flat tire is a rear tire, place the heavy object in front of the front tires, if you're changing a front tire, place the wedge behind the rear tires.
4. Remove hubcap or wheel cover, if your vehicle has one. Remove the plastic screws from the hubcap, every vehicle is different, consult your owner’s manual for the proper way to remove the hubcap for your vehicle.
5. Loosen the lug nuts. Don’t remove them completely, it’s much easier to loosen them before you jack up the car. Using the tire iron, turn the lug nuts counter-clockwise ¼ to ½ a turn, you may need to use force. Use your foot or bodyweight if necessary.
6. Lift your vehicle with the jack. Every vehicle is different, so check the owner’s manual to see where the correct spot to place the jack is on your vehicle. Once it is placed correctly under your vehicle, use the crank and turn clockwise to lift up your vehicle so the tire is completely off the ground.
7. Remove the lug nuts and flat tire. Now that you have loosened them, you should just be able to unscrew the lug nuts by hand. Make sure not to lose any lug nuts, you will need them to screw the spare tire on. Remove the flat tire.
8. Mount the spare tire. Align the spare tire with the lug bolts and push onto the wheel. Screw the lug nuts back on with your hands and tighten as much as possible.
9. Lower the vehicle. Once the vehicle is lowered back down to the ground, use the tire iron and tighten the lug nuts again using your foot or bodyweight to ensure they are screwed on tight.
10. Check the tire pressure in the spare tire. You may need to stop and add a bit of air.
Remember a spare tire is only a temporary fix, but it will get you safely to the pros at your nearest Hilltop Tire Service Center.