Learn To Change A Tire
There are some life skills that stay eternally useful and one is being able to change a tire. You never know when your skills could come to the rescue. Although changing a tire is easy to learn, many new drivers don’t bother and new cars don’t always come with a spare.
Some drivers prefer to call someone out and wait around and pay through the nose instead. But this skill once learned, like riding a bike, is hard to forget so why be quick to part with hard-earned money. Roll up your sleeves, grab the floor jack and get on with it.
Learn To Avoid The Situation
Prevention is better than a cure and the best way to avoid a flat is to stay on top of your car’s basic home maintenance.
- Develop the habit of taking a visual check before you drive anywhere and top up the air pressure up every six weeks or so anyway.
- Keep an eye on how each tire wears. If the wear is concentrated on the inner or outer tire rim, you need the wheels balancing. Wear a fat wear line across the whole tread width is a sign of not enough air whilst one single thinner line down the center of the tread means the tire is over-inflated.
- The air pressure recommended for each set of tires for your make of car can be found on a plate in the door frame or in your owner’s manual anything different is dangerous and could void your insurance and considered a contributing factor in an accident. Also, you may want to invest in a tire pressure gauge.
- For a safe ride, you should also match the tire and the tire pressure to the climate. Whether you have a space designed for it or not, carrying a spare is just sensible along with knowing what to do with it. If you think you changing a tire is beyond you read on and we will walk you through this simple process.
What You Will Need
Many vehicles come with a simple maintenance kit with the tools designed for your car’s make and model. If yours hasn’t or you want to check what they are, the very basics you need are the lug wrench and the jack. Extra equipment is sometimes included like alignment studs, extension bars or a wheel lock.
Steps In Changing Your Car’s Tire
Since not all new cars have a spare tire or a rack, fix a flat aerosols have become more widely available. They work on the same principles as radiator sealer but they are not designed to be anything but a stop-gap solution on slow leaks and punctures.
As useful as it may seem, it won’t be of any help if you have a blowout and you can’t steer to drive and need to pull over fast and put on a replacement. Spares lose air over time and tires have a best before date. When it’s time to buy new tires, don’t think four. You need five because the spare has to match.
A torch/headlamp, tire gauge and paper towels come in handy and are useful to keep in your car as is some kind matting in case you have to work in the dirt.
Pick Your Spot
The time you need to change a tire isn’t always convenient but if you are driving, you need to do it safely as soon as you can. Start looking for the best spot as you slow right down to slow and hit the hazard lights. Do all you can to be safe but not drive too far on the rim, because then you need to change the whole wheel out and perhaps the one on the other side too. Driving on a flat can be unnerving but here’s what to do.
Pull Over And Exit The Car Safely
If there is another person with you in the vehicle at this stage, they should leave the vehicle and make themselves useful and warn you when there is traffic. Car organizations recommend you carry a kit with hazard jackets and warning triangles. If you have them, place the triangles on a few feet away down the road as a warning and a few feet away from the rear of the car.
Check And Prepare All Your Tools
If you have kept on top of maintenance, you will have the tools you need, so once you are parked get them all out and put them ready where you get to them fast next to the flat. Prepare a safe place to put the lug nuts when you remove them from the wheel.
Loosen The Lugs
This can be the most challenging part of changing a tire but before you start to secure the tire to stop it from spinning with some sort of chock and take off the rims. Wheel lugs are put on by machine so expect it to be hard to get them to move. Thankfully, the lefty is still loose when you use all your weight and leverage on your lug wrench. Leave them on at this stage, just loosen them up.
Jack It Up
Find the jack point or place the jack under the weld on the car frame by the tire you are about to remove. If you are using a manual jack, you need to reach the jack stick comfortably then it’s a case of cranking the handle. Once you see light between the road and the tire, it’s high enough to pull off.
Remove The Tire
Take off each nut, there’s no specific order and put the nuts where you can’t lose them then pull the tire from the wheel hub. Ideally, it’ll just fall right off, but if it’s stuck, give it a couple of kicks to the sidewall. Roll it right out of the way once it’s off.
Grab The Spare
As you do give it a check, line up the studs and gaps and push the tire back into the hub. Put back all the lugs as tight as you can and replace the rims. The hard bit is done.
Lower The Car
Flip the jack handle the other way to bring the vehicle back to the ground gradually. Pull the jack out once it’s stabilized and go for the wrench again.
Tighten The Lugs
The most critical job is probably to make sure that you clip all the lugs smoothly and tightly on the wheel. Tighten them up in a zigzag fashion, not in a circle as you adjust the lug that you wrench on. Do this process a few times to ensure that you have them as secure as possible. Unless you have a torque wrench, you have to use muscle to make them secure.
Clean Up And Drive On
Don’t dump your flat tire and put it in your trunk. If you get lucky, you might be able to salvage it for use as a spare. Finally, clean up yourself to keep grease out of the car.
Changing a tire can be a tough task, no one wants to do it, but once you know you can, you feel more secure and self-reliant as a driver. You can go wherever you want without having to call anyone for a simple thing like a flat tire. It’s one of many very easy car maintenance tasks that can save money by learning how to do for yourself.