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How To Change A Tire - howtopam

Updated on July 24, 2014

Why Learn To Change A Tire?

It seems that this day in age many motorists have a mobile phone on their person and roadside assistance is only a phone call away. But what if you do not have a roadside assistance insurance plan or what if you happen to have the flat tire in an area where cellular service is not available? What if you have to call a tow truck and pay the standard fee? Learning to change a tire, then, could save you both a long wait time and a great deal of money. Changing a tire on your vehicle is not too difficult once you become familiar with the necessary tools and the proper technique for using them.

Watch howtopam Changing A Tire

Getting Acquainted With The Tools

The very first step in learning to change a vehicle tire is to get familiar with the necessary tools that you will be using. Most vehicles have all the needed tools for changing a tire stored somewhere on board. Under the engine hood or under the rear seat or under the false floor in the trunk of the vehicle is where the jack and the jack handle and the wheel wrench are most likely located. If your vehicle is older a previous owner may have removed the tool kit so you will want to check your vehicle to make certain that it has the tire changing tools on board - you do not want to be traveling without them. You will also want to make sure that your vehicle has a spare wheel stored on board.

Tools You Need

You will need a jack, jack handle, wheel wrench, and a spare wheel.
You will need a jack, jack handle, wheel wrench, and a spare wheel.

The spare wheel could be stored under the vehicle at the rear or it could be under the false floor in the trunk. Some vehicles have a side panel on the interior at the rear that contains the tool kit and the spare. It is very common for modern vehicles to have economy spare wheels because they require less storage space. Economy spares are only for emergency purposes and should be installed and driven on at low to moderate speeds and only to the service station where a proper tire can be reinstalled on the vehicle.

First Things First - Safety

After you have located the tire changing tool kit and the spare wheel for your vehicle before beginning any work on your vehicle you will want to block the wheel of the vehicle so it cannot roll away. Even though you have your vehicle gear shift in the park position and the emergency or parking brake set as an extra precaution you will also want to block the wheels of the vehicle with a piece of wood or a large rock or something.

Block Your Wheels

Always block the wheels of the vehicle that will remain on the ground when jacking.
Always block the wheels of the vehicle that will remain on the ground when jacking.

Set The Jack

Position the jack under the vehicle in the place recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
Position the jack under the vehicle in the place recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

Jack The Vehicle Up

After blocking at least one of the wheels of the vehicle that will remain secure on the ground while jacking up your vehicle you can set your jack and begin raising the vehicle up. Automobile manufactures usually supply car jack kits with jack usage instructions in both words and pictures. The instructions show exactly where to place the jack under the vehicle for proper lifting. If their are not instructions on the jack tool kit then you might find them located near the tool kit storage compartment or sometimes the instructions are pasted on the door panel or under the engine hood. If you have the vehicle owner's manual that was issued with the vehicle when new it will show the tire changing procedure for your vehicle. If you cannot locate any jack positioning instructions for your vehicle then you can position the jack under a part on the vehicle MAIN FRAME near the wheel that you desire to remove. CAUTION: Never position the jack to lift on vehicle body panels or any of the steering mechanisms - you could cause MAJOR damage to your vehicle.

After you position your jack in the correct location insert the jack handle into the jack and begin to raise your vehicle. Raise the vehicle up until the wheel almost clears the ground, but NOT entirely. You will need some pressure on the tire to hold it secure while you are breaking the wheel lug nuts loose.

Removing The Hubcap

Remove the hubcap and add a little lubricant to the threads of the wheel studs.
Remove the hubcap and add a little lubricant to the threads of the wheel studs.

Loosing The Lug Nuts

Do not jack the vehicle up entirely until the wheel lug nuts are broken lose.
Do not jack the vehicle up entirely until the wheel lug nuts are broken lose.

Breaking The Lug Nuts Lose

With some weight still on the wheel of the vehicle remove the hubcap from the center of the wheel. Some hubcaps have plastic nuts that are screwed on to the actual wheel nuts and require twisting off with your wheel wrench. Other hubcaps are snapped by clips into the outer diameter of the rim and to remove these type use the chiseled end of the wheel wrench to wedge in between the hubcap and the rim and pry the hubcap out of the rim. If you have any oil or lubricant it is a good idea to put a little on the exposed threads of the wheel studs. The oil will help the lug nuts spin off of the studs easily. Then with your wheel wrench placed securely on the lug nut and the handle of the wheel wrench horizontal to the left kick the handle downward with your foot. The lug nuts are going to be TIGHT so give the handle of the wheel wrench a GOOD kick downward. You may have to kick the wrench a few times to get the lug nut to break loose.

Removing The Lug Nuts

After the lug nuts are all broken free jack the vehicle up until the wheel clears the ground.
After the lug nuts are all broken free jack the vehicle up until the wheel clears the ground.

Once the wheel lug nuts are all broken free you can continue to jack up the vehicle until the tire clears the ground and rotates freely. Do not jack the vehicle any higher than is absolutely necessary. Extra height only makes the vehicle more unstable and you want to work on the vehicle safely. After the vehicle is raised spin all of the lug nuts off of their wheel studs and set the lug nuts inside the inverted hubcap for safe keeping. Now remove the wheel from the spindle of the vehicle.

Removing The Wheel

Raise the vehicle only enough for the wheel to clear the ground.
Raise the vehicle only enough for the wheel to clear the ground.

Putting On The Spare Wheel

The procedure for putting the spare wheel on to the vehicle spindle is exactly the same as removing the old wheel, but inspect the mating surfaces of the rim and the spindle before putting them together to make certain they are clean. Any accumulation of dust or dirt or rust needs to be removed from both surfaces before putting the two surfaces together. If you discover any rust or dirt on the surfaces use the chiseled end of the wheel wrench to scratch off the debris and then wipe the surfaces with a cloth or toweling or a wet-one or something.

TIP: If the wheel is too heavy to lift up onto the wheel studs, roll the wheel up against the spindle of the vehicle and with your one hand on the top of the wheel to steady it insert the chiseled end of the wheel wrench under the tire and lift up on the wrench to raise the wheel. You may have to rotate the wheel until the wheel studs are ligned up with the holes in the rim.

Thread The Lug Nuts On

Thread all of the lug nuts onto the studs and snug them up with the wheel still up off the ground.
Thread all of the lug nuts onto the studs and snug them up with the wheel still up off the ground.

Once you have the wheel on the wheel studs thread all of the lug nuts all the way onto the studs and then with the wheel wrench tighten them slightly while the wheel is still up off the ground. After all of the lug nuts are snugged up gently let lower the jack just enough that the tire is slightly resting on the ground. Now with the wheel resting slightly on the ground you are ready to tighten the lug nuts completely all the way around.

Alternate Stud Tightening Pattern

It is very important when you tighten the lug nuts that you alternate studs 180 degrees from one tightened stud to the next.
It is very important when you tighten the lug nuts that you alternate studs 180 degrees from one tightened stud to the next.

IMPORTANT: Use a 180 degree alternate tightening pattern when tightening the lug nuts to cause the wheel to tighten evenly all the way around.

Initial Tightening Step

With both hands on the horizontal handle of the wheel wrench use all of your upper body weight to push downward until the lug nut refuses to turn.
With both hands on the horizontal handle of the wheel wrench use all of your upper body weight to push downward until the lug nut refuses to turn.

Final Tightening Step

To complete the lug nut tightening give the wheel wrench handle a slight kick downward with your foot
To complete the lug nut tightening give the wheel wrench handle a slight kick downward with your foot

When you are tightening the lug nuts use the alternate tightening pattern and tighten each lug nut just a little and move 180 degrees across to the next lug nut and tighten it a little. Continue to repeat this pattern 3, 4, 5, times until all the lug nuts are as tight as you can get them from pushing downward on the handle of your wheel wrench. Then position your wheel wrench on each lug nut with the handle laying horizontal to the right hand side and then give the handle of the wheel wrench a slight kick downward with your foot. This final step will complete the tightening.

Putting The Hubcap On

Use caution if your hubcaps have plastic nuts that screw on. The plastic threads have a tendency to strip if you over tighten them.
Use caution if your hubcaps have plastic nuts that screw on. The plastic threads have a tendency to strip if you over tighten them.

Finishing up The Job

After the wheel lug nuts have been well tightened all around you can reinstall the hubcap and gently let the jack all the way down. Then you can remove the blocking from the wheels of your vehicle and put your tool kit back in the vehicle storage compartment. You are Done!

Great Job You're All Done!

Changing a tire is not too big of a job and women can do it also!
Changing a tire is not too big of a job and women can do it also!

Questions or Comments?

I welcome all your questions and comments as well as any suggestions or ideas of your own. Please contact me through any of my links with any input that you desire to contribute. I enjoy hearing from everyone.

Thank you

How To Pam

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    • Pamela Bush profile image
      Author

      howtopam 2 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Thank you flpalermo for your kind words. Life in this world is a trying ordeal that leads to life in the Kingdom Eternal. I hope is that all would come to know Him and lay down their carnal lives for Him.

    • flpalermo profile image

      flpalermo 2 years ago

      Pamela: I enjoyed your video very much. You are a special lady indeed. The world needs this giving attitude that you have. There is a place for you in the divine Kingdom of God.

    • Pamela Bush profile image
      Author

      howtopam 3 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Thank you FlourishAnyway;

      I have always had a love to learn many different things. When I was young I desired to become a mechanic, but my dad would not allow it. Thankfully my husband is extremely handy, a jack of all trades, and he has fulfilled my passion by teaching me much of what he knows.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      In the first few months of dating my husband (many years ago) I needed a tire change on a road side. He positioned the jack in the wrong place and I had an ginormous bump in my floorboard to show for it. Thankfully my car was at the end of its usable life. You are a very how-to lady, Pam, and I admire you.

    • Pamela Bush profile image
      Author

      howtopam 3 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Thank you Bill;

      I give my children annual roadside assistance plans through AMA for gifts once a year because none of them desire to change a tire. I prefer to change the tire myself rather than to have to wait for a rescue service company.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I think I've lived too long, Pam. The reason I say that is because I'm amazed by the number of drivers today who do not know how to do this. My dad wouldn't let me get my driver's license until I learned how to change a tire. Now good luck finding someone who does know how.