How To Change A Flat Tire: The Do’s and Don’ts, Safety Tips, and More
What’s worse than being stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire is being unprepared to deal with the situation. While changing a flat tire isn’t a very difficult task, it can seem impossible if you’re not sure what to do. But don’t get ahead of yourself, either, as there are some safety concerns you’ll want to be aware of as well. Here is what you should, and shouldn’t, be doing when changing a flat.
What You’ll Want Ahead of Time
It’s important that you heed some advice before it’s too late: make sure you have the proper equipment to deal with a flat tire. In your vehicle, you’ll obviously want the spare tire; your car may have come with one when you bought it, but there might be a chance that you’ll need to buy one yourself. If so, go to your local mechanic, who will be able to help you pick one out depending on your car. Besides the spare time, you should also always have on had a jack and a lug wrench.
Changing the Tire
When you’re out driving and hear the thunk-thunk-thunk of a flat tire, the first thing you’ll want to do is pull over to the side of the road. While you’ll want to get over as quickly as possible – driving on a flat could cause more serious damage to your car – you’ll also want to make sure you’re pulling over into a safe area with some space for you to work. Once you’re on the side of the road, or better yet, in a parking lot or other quiet space, put your car in park and get out to assess the damage.
Whichever tire is the one that needs to be replaced, first pop the hubcap off the tire if necessary. Then, using your lug wrench, loosen the nuts on the wheel. They may be difficult to get going, so if you’re having trouble loosening the nuts, use a heavy object as a hammer or carefully stand on the lug wrench and use your bodyweight to get them to turn. Don’t remove the lug nuts quite yet. Next, place the jack under your car. Where you place the jack will depend on your car model, so consult your user’s manual to be sure. In general, though, the jack should be placed so that it’s making contact with the frame.
With the jack in place, pump the jack to raise the car so the flat tire is just above the ground. Finish removing the nuts, take the wheel off the car, and replace it with your spare tire. Place the nuts back on the spare tire and hand tighten them, then lower the car back down to the ground. Finally, with the car on the ground, tighten the nuts with lug wrench. Be sure not to drive for too long with a spare tire; it should only be used as a last resort to get you to your car mechanic, so take heed while driving on the spare.
While changing a tire can be a little disconcerting if you’ve never done it before, it’s easy once you’ve got the hang of it. However, there are a few safety concerns you’ll want to be aware of. Firstly, always be aware of your surroundings when you’re standing out near traffic. Turn your safety hazard lights on, and if you have them, set up traffic cones to alert oncoming drivers. Additionally, when your car is off the ground, don’t climb under the car. While it may seem secure, you jack may become dislodged, and your vehicle could fall on you, causing serious injury.
If you’re still not comfortable changing a flat tire, there’s no need to risk damage to your car, or worse, potential injury to yourself. Roadside assistance may be covered by your insurance company, and at worst, it shouldn’t cost all that much money to have someone come help you. Still, if you feel adequate in your tire-changing abilities, doing it yourself can save you that little bit of money, as well as a little bit of time.