How to Change a Flat Tire
Updated on September 22 2023
The tires in your vehicle are responsible for keeping your car on the road. Sooner or later, you will encounter a flat tire, and it can happen at any time. In some cases, a flat tire occurs suddenly when you least expect it.
As a responsible car owner, it helps to know a thing or two about dealing with flat tires. So, instead of seeking help from strangers or waiting for a tow truck to arrive, why not change the flat tire yourself?
Sure, changing a flat tire is not for everyone. But with the right tools and techniques, every man, woman, and everything in between, can master the art of changing a flat tire.
How to Change a Flat Tire in 8 Easy Steps
Difficulty Rating: Moderately Challenging
B. Jack stands (optional)
C. Tire wrench or a tire iron
D. Early warning device (EWD)
E. Tire blocks or tire chocks (a piece of stone or wood will do)
F. Spare tire
Step 1: Find a safe and level parking spot.
Replacing a flat tire requires lifting the vehicle slightly with a jack. And since the jack will essentially support the weight of your car, the jack needs to rest on solid and level ground to avoid accidents. Find a safe and level parking area before proceeding.
Tip: Avoid jacking up the car on a slope or in areas with soft, grassy, or loose soil whenever possible.
Step 2: Prepare your gear and set the early warning device.
After finding a safe place to park, engage the hazard flashers and the handbrake. Next, grab your EWD or early warning device and place it a couple of meters away from the rear bumper of your vehicle. Doing so will alert other motorists and incoming traffic as you work on replacing the flat tire.
After doing that, grab a tire chock and place it on the opposite side of the flat. For instance, if the right front tire is flat, the tire chock should be on the left rear tire to prevent the vehicle from moving as you change the flat tire.
Tip: If you don't have a tire block or tire chock, find a large piece of stone, brick, or wooden block.
Step 3: Loosen the lug nuts before jacking up the vehicle.
The next important step is to loosen the lug nuts before jacking up the vehicle. If not, your car might fall off the jack while loosening the nuts. The trick here is to loosen each lug nut without removing them entirely from the wheel bolts.
Grab the tire wrench or tire iron and proceed to turn each lug nut in a counterclockwise direction. Remember to loosen the lug nuts in an X manner for maximum safety.
How does this work? If your car has four lug nuts, start with the upper left lug nut and move to the right lower lug nut. Next, loosen the top right before finishing with the bottom left lug nut. The same procedure applies when re-tightening the nuts after replacing the flat tire.
If your vehicle has five or more lug nuts, follow a star pattern when loosening or tightening each nut.
Step 4: Raise the vehicle using a jack.
You can use any jack, be it an alligator jack, a bottle jack, or a scissor jack. The trick is finding the best spot to place the jack before raising the vehicle. If not, you run the risk of damaging the body, suspension, or undercarriage.
Each vehicle has specific "jacking points" indicated in the owner's manual. In most cases, the front jacking point is where the front fender meets the vehicle's floor, just behind the front wheel. On the other hand, the rear jacking point is where the rear fender meets the floor ahead of the rear wheel.
Tip: Raise the vehicle just enough to clear the flat tire. You can use a jack stand for added safety. Do NOT, under any circumstances, place any part of your body under a jacked vehicle unless supported by a jack stand.
Step 5: Remove the lug nuts and the flat tire.
After jacking up your car, it’s time to remove the lug nuts first before removing the wheel altogether.
Fully loosen the nuts and set them aside. Next, carefully pull on the flat tire to remove it from the wheel hub.
Step 6: Place the spare tire on the hub.
Grab your spare tire and place it on the wheel hub by carefully aligning the wheel bolts to the holes of the spare wheel.
Step 7: Replace the lug nuts.
Grab the lug nuts and hand-tighten each nut by turning in a clockwise direction. Grab the tire wrench to tighten each nut slightly.
The correct procedure is to AVOID fully tightening the lug nuts while the car is still resting on the jack.
Step 8: Lower the vehicle and fully tighten the lug nuts.
At this point, you can lower the vehicle and set the jack aside. If you have a jack stand, raise the car slightly and remove the jack stand before dropping the car to the ground.
The last and final step is to tighten each lug nut fully. Grab the tire wrench to tighten each lug nut in an X or star pattern, as discussed in Step 3 above. Do not overtighten the lug nuts to prevent loose threads.
Replacing a flat tire is easier if you have the right tools and employ the proper techniques. The most important thing to remember is to have a tire wrench, a jack, a spare tire, and an early warning device in the trunk of your vehicle at all times.