How to Change a Flat Tire By Yourself
When you suddenly notice that you have a flat tire, it can be a frustrating experience. The flat tire usually happens at the worst possible times, such as when you are in the middle of a road trip or a drive back home. The good news is changing a flat tire is something you can do by yourself.
Even if you plan to rely on roadside assistance in this situation, you need to be prepared to get caught out in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone signal. This will leave you with limited options other than to fix it yourself. Being ready with the knowledge and equipment to change a flat tire will make the process much less stressful.
In the spirit of DIY, it's time to roll up your sleeves and channel your inner mechanic. Let's learn how to change a flat tire in your car by yourself.
Prepare Equipment & Tools
Let's start with what you need to fix the flat tire. You will need a jack to lift the car and support the weight to replace the tire. Get a feel for how this works before you need it, as you may have to do this in the dark or the rain. You will also need a lug wrench, the tool you need to remove the nuts that hold the tire in place.
Of course, you will need spare tires for your vehicle. Make sure you always have at least one spare tire at your disposal. In addition, give your owner's manual a quick read-through to make sure you know what needs to be done every step along the way. Even if you have changed a tire in the past, this step should not be overlooked.
If you don't have any of these items, you should buy them as soon as possible so that you are not caught unprepared at the side of the road. In addition to the essential items, there are other things that you may want to keep handy in the back of your car. Supplies like flashlights, jackets, and gloves will make the process of changing a tire a little more pleasant.
Panic may set in when you feel there is something wrong with the tire. However, you need to remain calm. Turn on your hazard lights and avoid braking suddenly or any sharp turns. Take a moment to find a safe place to stop on a long stretch of road. If you can make it to a parking lot, even better. It's important to stop the car as soon as possible to avoid any mechanical damages.
Preparing the Wheel
Make sure that the area is safe before you begin working on the wheel. If you have a passenger with you, it is ideal that they also exit the vehicle, keep an eye on the traffic, and remain standing so that they are more visible to oncoming traffic.
Now, you will need to remove the hubcap or wheel cover if there is one. You should do this before jacking up the car as it will be easier at this stage. You should also loosen the lug nuts before jacking as well, not all the way just a little bit.
Jack Up the Car
There will be a place for the jack to be used underneath the car. This will be detailed in your car's manual. To make sure that you are doing this the right way, keep a close eye on the manual. Don't trust the jack by placing any part of your body under the car. Think of the car as essentially balanced on the jack and not secure at all.
Remove the Tire
Unscrew the lug nuts and remove the tire. Keep the nuts safe and don't place them on the ground. These parts are small and very easy to lose if you take your eye off them. It is best to keep them in your pocket.
Replace the Tire With Your Spare
This process should be fairly straightforward. Just be careful to tighten the lug nuts well, but don't overdo it. Afterwards, gently lower your car using the jack. The weight should be restored back on the ground. Next, give the lug nuts one final round of tightening. When you're satisfied that you can't get the lug nuts any tighter, you should stow all of the gear in the trunk of your car, along with the flat tire.
Although your tire got changed for now, make sure you still visit a mechanic at your earliest convenience. A flat tire is usually a symptom that your car has worn down over time, so there's a likely chance other parts have deteriorated as well. It's better to be safe than sorry with a thorough check-up at the garage. The professionals will take stock of the situation and ensure your vehicle is still in working order.