- You will need a jack, a lug wrench and a spare tire to change a puncture.
- Changing a flat tire only takes a few steps and can be done in minutes.
- Always change a tire in a safe, flat area away from traffic.
The last thing anyone wants to do is pull over to the side of a busy road and change a tire. However, knowing how to replace a tire is essential if you have a puncture and are no longer able to drive safely. While roadside services can come in handy and get you out of many situations, it’s always best to be prepared for the worst as a driver. A dead phone battery or poor signal can prevent you from getting the help you need and leave you stranded on the side of the road.
It’s not fun, but all drivers should learn how to properly change a flat tire. Keep reading to learn the steps to change a flat tire quickly and without issue.
Equipment required to change a tire
You can’t predict when you’ll need to change a tire, so it’s good to be sure you have everything you need at all times. Changing a flat tire requires a few tools that are probably already in your vehicle. You will need a lug wrench to loosen and tighten the bolts that secure the wheel, and a jack to lift the car. These items should come standard in your vehicle. If they get misplaced, you can purchase a hook wrench for around $15. A basic car scissor jack costs around $30. Some jack kits have cranks that double as wrenches.
Be sure to refer to the owner’s manual for jack adjustment points. Improper lifting of a car can damage parts under the vehicle and may not be covered by your insurance.
The most important thing you need is a replacement spare tire, usually found under the carpet in the trunk or cargo area. Larger SUVs and trucks with full-size spares may have an external storage rack under the rear of the vehicle.
Point: Make a habit of checking your spare tire’s air pressure monthly, as they lose air over time. You can buy a new spare at a local tire store or auto repair shop if the tire is missing or damaged.
Not all cars come with a spare tire, so it’s essential to check your vehicle to make sure you have one and where it is. Instead of a spare part, some models have an emergency tire repair kit or sealant in the trunk or cargo area. The sealant allows you to fix your flat tire long enough to get to a tire shop. But this is an option of last resort, as the sealant can render the tire beyond repair.
If there is no sealant, your car could have flat tires. These special tires can travel about 80 km after a puncture, which can be enough distance to get you to a tire shop.
What to do when you have a flat tire
If you think you have a flat tire, get off the road safely as soon as possible.
- Gently apply your brakes and pull to the shoulder, down a side street, or into a nearby parking lot.
- Never slam on the brakes or make a sudden turn off the road as you could lose control of the vehicle with a damaged tire.
- Make sure you have enough space in a flat area to change the tire to minimize the risk of being hit by oncoming traffic.
Always be aware of your surroundings and take care of your personal safety.
Steps to change a tire
Follow these steps to change a tire after finding a safe place to stop away from traffic.
- Turn on your hazard warning lights to be more visible to other drivers.
- Apply the parking brake to reduce the chance of your car rolling.
- Place a large or heavy object behind the wheels to help keep the car stable.
- Take out all the necessary tools: pin wrench, jack and spare tire.
- Using the lug wrench, loosen the lug nuts on the wheel you are replacing just enough so they can be unscrewed by hand. Some cars have a wheel cover covering the wheel nuts. If necessary, remove the wheel cover to expose the wheel nuts.
- Place the jack under the exposed metal under the vehicle near the flat tire and use it to lift the car. Refer to the owner’s manual for the exact location to set the plug. Lifting the vehicle in the wrong place could cause damage.
- Once you’ve lifted the car enough that the wheel is off the ground, finish unscrewing the lug nuts. Remove all nuts from the vehicle and place them somewhere where you won’t lose them.
- Remove the tire from the vehicle. Lay it flat so it doesn’t roll.
- Place the spare tire on the vehicle.
- Screw the wheel nuts back on using your hand. Do not tighten them completely.
- Using the jack, slowly lower the vehicle so that the spare tire lightly touches the ground. Don’t put the full weight of the car on the tires yet.
- Use the lug wrench to tighten all wheel nuts. Tighten them in a star, not one by one in a circle.
- After tightening all lug nuts, lower the vehicle completely.
- Replace the tools and put the damaged tire in the trunk of the car.
Remember that a spare tire is not a permanent tire. Once you’ve replaced the puncture with the temporary spare tire, go to your local tire store and have the original tire replaced or repaired.
Change an EV tire
Electric vehicles (EVs) do not use the same tires as similarly sized gas-powered cars. The electric vehicle’s heavy battery adds weight that a standard tire cannot support, leading to premature wear. Thus, electric vehicles use specific tires to support the additional weight of the car and manage the torque that accompanies the instantaneous power of the electric motor.
In theory, changing the tire of an electric car is identical to the process of a gas-powered car. However, most electric vehicles do not come with spare tires. One of the reasons is to provide more space for the battery. Another is to limit excess weight. Additionally, many newer electric cars come with run-flat tires that eliminate the need for a temporary spare.
When to replace a tire
A puncture in your tire can happen on any day and never at a convenient time. You might run over a nail on your daily commute or plunge into a pothole on your way to the store. The car suddenly shaking or pulling to one side may indicate a flat tire. Pull out of traffic safely to check that the tire is not damaged or that there are no objects stuck in it.
Sometimes you can see an object, like a nail in the tire, but the tire is not deflated. Leave it in the rubber and go to a tire shop. However, if you stop and see that the tire appears flat, you will need to replace it with the spare tire.
Do not attempt to drive with a flat tire, even if a local tire store is nearby. Driving on the flat is dangerous, it can damage the tire and damage the rim.