There is nothing worse than being stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire. While you may prefer to call a professional or have OnStar Roadside Assistance take care of your flat, there may be a time when you will have to do it yourself. At Dueck Auto Group we want to ensure that you have the right tools and knowledge in the event that help is unavailable.
What You'll Need
- Spare Tire
- Car Jack
- Lug Wrench
- Owners Manual
- Wheel Chocks
- Emergency Warning Devices
New cars usually come equipped with the supplies needed to change or patch up a tire. It's important that you check your vehicle and know where you're spare tire is stored along with the supplies needed to change it. You also need to check this spare tire semi-regularly. A spare tire with no air in it doesn't do you any good, so check the condition and tire pressure before you set out on long trips. Some items that will make changing your flat tire easier but are not essential are wheel chocks, flashlights, emergency warning devices, hand wipes and a tire changing mat.
Step One: Get to a safe spot
Since a flat tire can happen anywhere and anytime finding a safe spot to change your tire isn't always possible. You'll want to try to find a flat, solid, level surface that will restrict the car from rolling. Once, you are aware that you've got a flat tire, don't brake or turn suddenly. Instead, slowly decrease your speed and slowly pull over to the side of the road to assess the situation.
Step Two: Turn on flashers, prevent your car from rolling and set out warning devices
When you've found your safe spot, turn your engine off and hazard lights on. You'll want to set your parking brake and if you have a standard transmission, put your vehicle in first, or reverse. If you have flares or reflective warning triangles, set them out according to the product instructions. Use extreme caution when stopped on the side of the road and never turn your back to traffic. Next, you'll want to chock your wheels, this will help prevent your car from moving. When changing a front tire, place them behind your cares front tires. When changing a rear tire, place them in front of the car's tires. If you don't have wheel chocks you can use a heavy object or large rocks in its place.
Step Three: Consult the owners manual
You'll want to make sure you have your owners manual on hand. Your manual will contain all the information you need to help change your tire, such as where you can find your spare tire and supplies, where you should place the jack to lift the vehicle safely and more. Some vehicles may have specific instructions and requirements for fixing a flat tire.
Step Four: Find your spare tire, jack and tire iron
If your new car came with a spare tire, than its likely equipped with the two tools you'll need; a jack and lug wrench. These are usually kept under the floor mat or latch in the trunk. If you own an SUV, minivan or pickup sometimes the spare tire is mounted on the back of the tailgate or underneath the vehicle itself. Your owners manual will tell you exactly where to find your tire.
Step Five: Take off the hubcap or wheel cover
If your vehicle has a hubcap, its easier to remove this now before you jack up the vehicle. You'll know if you have a hubcap if your lug nuts are hidden. For most vehicles you can use the flat end of your lug wrench to remove the hubcap by inserting the flat end and prying it off. Some vehicles do need a specific tool to remove the cap, check your owner's manual to make sure. If you don't have a hubcap you can skip this step all together.
Step Six: Loosen the wheel lugs
Once your lug nuts are exposed you want to loosen them using the lug wrench. Turn the lug nuts counterclockwise until you break the their resistance. The wheel lugs are almost certainly very tight so you'll have brute force. Its okay to use your foot or all of your body weight if necessary. Loosen the lug nuts about one forth or half a turn, but DON'T remove them yet. You want to save this for when its time to remove the wheel from the vehicle.
Step Seven: Position the jack and lift up the car
The right place for the jack is usually beneath the vehicle frame alongside the tire that's flat. Many vehicle frames have molded plastic on the bottom with a cleared area of exposed metal specifically for the jack. You're owners manual will identify the best spot to place your jack. If you have a hydraulic jack, you'll insert the handle and pump up and down. If you have a scissor jack, take the wrench or rod, insert it, and crank.
Step Eight: Remove the lug nuts
Remove the lug nuts the rest of the way. Turn them counterclockwise until they are loose and remove them completely. You may need a specific key adapter for one or all of the lugs depending on your vehicle. Once they are off be sure to place them in a safe area.
Step Nine: Remove the flat tire
When the lug nuts are off you can remove the flat tire from the vehicle. Pull the flat straight out and off the axle. Ideally it'll just fall off, if the car is older sometimes rust will make this part difficult. A few well placed hits on the rubber will loosen the joints so you can easily pull it off. Once removed, place the flat tire under the vehicle so in the event of a jack failure the vehicle will fall on the old wheel, hopefully preventing injury. This will also keep the wheel from rolling away.
Step Ten: Install the spare
Replace the flat tire with the spare. Take care to align the rim of the spare with the wheel bolts. You want to make sure you install the wheel the correct way and not backwards. The valve stem of a doughnut tire should face outwards away from the vehicle. You also may have to jack up the car a little higher than you have it in order to fit the new tire, since the flat time will have been lower than a fully inflated one.
Step Eleven: Screw on the lug nuts
After you have the spare tire on and lined up properly, screw each of the lugs back on. When placing the lugs back on, do so in a star pattern to ensure the tire is balanced. Don't completely tighten the nuts one at a time, but going in a star pattern and tighten each nut across from each other little by little until they are all equally tight. Be careful not to be too forceful during this step that you risk upsetting the jack. You will tighten the lug nuts again once the car is down and there is no risk of it falling.
Step Twelve: Lower the car and tighten the wheel lugs completely
Carefully lower the jack until the vehicle is completely on the ground and pull the jack away from the vehicle. Now that the vehicle is safely on the ground you want to tighten the lug nuts as much as possible. This step you want to use as much force as possible while tightening each lug nut clockwise. Once the nuts are as tight as possible you can replace the hubcap or store it if it doesn't fit over the spare.
Step Thirteen: Check the tire pressure
Before you pack up and go make sure you check the tire pressure in your spare so ensure it has an adequate amount of air. Temporary spares typically require 60 psi. If the tire needs pressure, drive slowly to a service station immediately.
Step Fourteen: Pack up your tools
Now that your spare is fully secure on your vehicle, pack up your tools and flat tire and store them back in your trunk. Before you drive off make sure you've picked up your wheel chocks and put down your parking brake.
Step Fifteen: Important details about compact spare tires
Its important to know the most spare tires aren't made to drive long distances or at high speeds. Most tires are rated for a max speed of 90 km/h, that means driving faster than tat can cause another blowout. The car will also handle and brake much differently too, so be cautious and feel out the new driving dynamics of the tiny tire. Dueck Auto Group has three convenient locations that can help you get your car back into top shape. Book your appointment or drop by our tire shop anytime to get your vehicle back into top shape.