If you have a car, changing a flat tire is one of the most basic emergency procedures that you need to master.
While old or bald tires are more prone to punctures, even brand new tires can fall prey to nails, screws, or other sharp objects on the road.
This is the reason why it is important to know the simple steps to change a flat tire yourself.
You might think that changing a tire is tedious work. For the most part, you are probably right. But with proper tools, you can change car tire with a spare so you can get back on the road in a jiffy.
How to Change Car Tires Yourself
- Spare tire or compact spare tire
- Jack stands
- Torque wrench and socket set
- Wheel Chocks
Step 1: Park the car safely.
You should park the car safely whenever possible. Park the car in level surface which is away from incoming traffic.
Remember that you will need to support the weight of the vehicle using a jack and jack stands. It is highly advisable that you only change the tire when the car is parked safely in a hard or concrete surface. Do not attempt to change a flat tire in an inclined road.
Engage the parking brake, put the gear in Neutral or Park, and engage the hazard lights.
Finally, it is a good idea to have the owner’s manual nearby so you will know the location of the spare tire and the jacking points of the vehicle.
Step 2: Prepare to change the flat tire.
After parking the vehicle safely, grab the wheel chocks and block the wheel that is diagonally opposite the deflated tire.
For example, if the front left wheel is flat, put the wheel chocks on the right rear tire. If the front right tire is flat, the wheel chocks should be placed in the left rear wheel.
You don’t have wheel chocks, you can grab a large rock/stone or slab of wood nearby and use it as an improvised wheel chock. This is important as it will prevent the vehicle from moving when you lift one side of the car.
Step 3: Take out the spare tire and the tools from the trunk.
At this point, you can now grab the spare tire, the jack, jack stands, and torque wrench from the trunk.
You are now prepared to loosen the lug nuts.
Step 4: Loosen the lug nuts.
The proper way to remove a flat tire is to loosen the lug nuts before jacking up the vehicle. Grab the socket set and loosen each nut by turning it in a counterclockwise direction.
This might take some serious effort and a bit of elbow grease since the lug nuts will be screwed tight.
Depending on the number of lug nuts in your vehicle, there is a proper wheel bolting sequence that you need to follow. Refer to the owner’s manual of your vehicle to determine the bolting sequence.
If your vehicle is equipped with four lug nuts, the proper sequence is to loosen the upper left nut, followed by the lower right nut. Finish off by loosening the lower left nut followed by the upper right nut.
Do not remove the nuts! Loosen them enough so you can turn them by hand.
Step 5: Raise the vehicle.
After loosening the nuts, you can now safely raise the vehicle using a jack and jack stands.
It doesn’t matter if you’re using an old-school scissor jack, bottle jack, or floor jack. The important thing to consider here is to lift the vehicle in the proper jacking points. Consult your owner’s manual to determine the jacking points of your vehicle. Failure to do so might damage the bodywork and frame of your vehicle.
The jacking point is usually located a couple of inches behind the front wheels and at the front of the rear wheels. Place the jack in the proper location and raise the vehicle slowly.
Secure the raised vehicle with a jack stand whenever necessary so you can work safely.
Step 6: Remove the flat tire.
Remove the lug nuts and pull out the wheel with the flat tire. The wheel and tire combo is a bit heavy and you may need to rock it back and forth in order to remove it from the wheel hub.
Grab the spare tire and place it on the hub. Rotate the spare so the holes will line up with the lugs.
Step 7: Retighten the nuts.
After the spare tire is installed, it is time to insert the nuts and re-tighten accordingly. When tightening the lug nuts, it is best to follow the same bolting pattern you utilized when you were loosening the nuts.
Tighten the upper left nut followed by the lower right nut. Finish by tightening the lower left nut and finish off with the upper right nut.
At this point, do not fully tighten the nuts while the vehicle is still raised. Tighten it just enough to secure the spare in place.
Step 8: Lower the vehicle.
If the vehicle is supported by a jack stand, jack the vehicle a couple of inches higher and remove the jack stand. Slowly lower the vehicle to the ground.
Step 9: Fully tighten the lug nuts.
Now that the vehicle is back on solid ground, the final step is to fully tighten the lug nuts. Remember to observe the proper bolting sequence as well.
Recommended: It is highly recommended to use torque wrench for proper tightening of lug nuts.
You’re done! Put the tools and the flat tire back in the truck and you’re ready to hit the road.
If you installed a compact spare tire, stay at the prescribed speed limit. Now is the perfect time to bring the flat to the shop for proper repair