Changing a tire is a vital skill for all drivers. It not only saves you the time and cost of a tow truck or roadside assistance but it also allows you to get back on the road quickly and safely. Here at Kneble’s Auto, we offer a wide array of tire services but sometimes tires blow suddenly and without warning far enough away that you can’t get to us. This step by step guide will empower you to get back on your way to your destination in the event that you have a flat tire.
Changing a tire is a simple task and this article will help you prepare so that you can have it done safely in as little as 15 minutes. In some instances, especially with newer vehicles, you may not have a spare, and in those cases, you will want to check and see if you have run-flat tires. You can find that information on the sidewall of the tire or in the door card as well as your owner’s manual. Run-flat tires allow you to drive a short distance on them so you can get to us. If you don’t have run-flat tires you’ll need to stop and call a tow truck or roadside assistance as driving on the flat can lead to wheel damage among other problems.
What’s your first thought when you go out to your vehicle and you see a flat tire? You think, “Oh darn.” Or how about when you suddenly get a flat while you’re driving, which is what happened to me.
Hi, I’m Nancy at Kneble’s Auto Service Center. Having a flat tire usually, happen at the most inopportune times. You usually are running late to get somewhere, or you just went grocery shopping and you have those groceries to put away. First and foremost, you should never, ever drive on a flat tire unless, of course, you need to get to a safe location. Driving on a flat tire can cause further damage to the tire, such as compromising the integrity of the sidewall, which can lead to a blowout. Your rim can be so bent out of shape that you would need to replace it. Replacing a tire and rim can be very costly.
Now, hopefully, your vehicle comes with a spare, and your spare doesn’t have a flat. You have two options. You can change it yourself or you can call roadside assistance and have someone change it for you. My choice was number two, causing roadside assistance since I had experienced this myself. Thank goodness my vehicle had a spare. Remember, be smart and make the right choice if you experience a flat tire.
Thank you for watching, and don’t forget to check out a new video each week on Wednesday at 12:30, from such subjects as child seat safety, and the importance of oil changes. Thank you.
Some Preliminary Things To Consider
You’ll want to know what tools and supplies are in your car before changing a tire becomes a requirement. Check for these four things. A spare tire at its proper pressure. It’s good practice to fill the spare each time you top off your tires each month. It’s also important to see if the car comes with a jack because some cars need a specific jack to lift the car properly. Additionally, you’ll need a lug wrench and possibly a wheel lock key to remove them. Finally, consider keeping a raincoat or jacket, gloves, wheel chocks, and an air pump in your car to make changing a tire even easier.
If your car is newer than 2007 you have tire pressure sensors in your tires that help you keep track of what the actual pressure is inside your tires. If your tires start to go a little low because of a hole or issue with the valve, a light will illuminate in your dash that looks like a tire without much air in it. Click the video below for more information on TPMS valves.
Depending on how close you are to our shop in Mays Landing you should pull over in a safe space and check your tires then and there. If they’re noticeably low and you’re many miles from a filling station it is best to go ahead and change the tire since you’re already in a safe place.
One other thing that’s important is checking your tire pressure regularly. We recommend checking it once a month. You can even bring your car into us at Kneble’s Auto and we’ll happily check it and top it off for you!
Finally, it’s important to realize that even with consistent care and attentiveness, sometimes unforeseen things like road debris may pop your tire or deflate it very quickly without giving you the chance to get to a filling station before it’s already completely flat. For those times just follow the guide below and you’ll be back on the road in no time.
Step By Step Instructions to Change a Tire
- Get to the safest space possible.
Find a flat space with no traffic. A parking lot is perfect but if you’re in the left lane of the highway you would ideally want to move over to the far right shoulder. That’s your priority in terms of getting to safety. Get to the safest space whether that’s the side of the highway or into a parking lot. Flatter is better, less traffic is better. Focus on those two principles.
- Get your tools and spare.
Get your tools and spare tire out. If you have a European car you may need to inflate the spare tire with a pump that will also be supplied. Place your jack in the correct position and take a look at your wheel. Is there a hubcap to remove? Are there caps on the lugs that need to be removed? Volkswagens, in particular, have special caps that use a small tool to remove them. If you have a locking lug nut you’ll need the key as mentioned above. Your spare may be located under your trunk floor or under the back of your vehicle if you have a truck or SUV.
- Use your lug wrench to loosen BUT DO NOT REMOVE each lug nut.
You just want to break them loose from their torqued position and no more.
- Jack the car up and check to see that it’s stable.
Lift the car now and then check to see that it’s stable by looking under it and confirming that the jack is not leaning in any one direction. Only continue if it’s stable. If it seems unstable, reposition the jack and repeat this step till it’s stable and secure.
- Remove the lug nuts and wheel.
Remove the lug nuts and set them near where you’re working. You want them within an arms reach. Now remove the flat tire and set it aside, out of the way completely. If you’re dealing with an especially stubborn lug nut see our video!
- Install the spare tire.
If you have lug bolts instead of nuts you may have to be very careful about how the wheel goes onto the axle. Look through the lug holes in the wheel and line them up with the holes in the hub. Tighten the lug nuts or bolts once the wheel is on. Spare tires are usually speed limited to about 50 mph so check yours to be sure.
- Lower the car and torque the lug nuts.
Once you’re lowered back to the ground it’s very important to torque the wheel down in a star pattern and to repeat the cycle at least once. Usually, you’ll find loose lug nuts or bolts the second time around so I like to continue repeating until there are no noticeably loose nuts at all. If you have a torque wrench use it now to ensure you have the proper torque on those lug nuts.
- Put your bad tire and tools back.
This is a good time to go check your spares air pressure to be sure it’s actually good to go for multiple miles. Once you’re back in your car with your tools bring your flat tire into us as soon as you can. You don’t want to drive on a spare for an extended time period. That’s not what they’re designed to do and they don’t handle or brake nearly as well as your regular tires. Some tires are actually repairable so give us a chance and we may be able to save you from needing a new tire. We’ll even put the tire back on and put your spare back where it belongs.