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How to Change a Tire Step by Step

Updated on October 8, 2012

A Step by Step Guide to Changing a Tire

Getting a flat tire is not only inconvenient, but it can be costly, too. We already know it can cost upwards of a hundred or so dollars to replace a tire, so why not save money on the tow truck, too? Print this article, and keep it in your car, for an easy-to-follow guide on changing a tire.

Required tools for changing a tire.
Required tools for changing a tire. | Source

You Will Need:

  1. Spare Tire (1)
  2. Jack (2)
  3. Lug Wrench (3)
  4. Hub Cap Removal Tool (4), or
  5. Screwdriver (5)

Tip: Most cars come with a Jack and Lug Wrench along with the Spare Tire. Be sure to make sure you have these items!




Step 1: Prepare

Make sure you are completely pulled off to the side of the road. (It is okay to drive slowly for a short distance on a flat).

  1. Set Hazard Lights
  2. Turn off Engine
  3. Set Parking Brake
  4. If on a Hill, Wedge Tires. (Rocks or wood can be used.)

Tip: Parking Brakes are either located on the center console as hand levers (above) or to the left side of the pedals as foot brakes.


Remove hub cap.
Remove hub cap. | Source

Step 2: Remove Hub Cap

  1. Insert Flathead into the space where the cover meets the tire.
  2. Apply slight leverage.
  3. Repeat around circumference of hub cap until it comes loose.

Tip: If you don’t have the correct tools, a hub cap will come off just as easily with a key.

Loosen the lug nuts.
Loosen the lug nuts. | Source

Step 3: Loosen Lug Nuts

  1. Place the lug wrench over the head of a lug nut.
  2. Rotate lug wrench to the left.
  3. Loosen nut until it spins freely. Do not remove.
  4. Repeat 1, 2 and 3 for the remaining lug nuts.

Tip: It is important not to remove the lug nuts prior to jacking the car because of risk of injury and risk of damage to the vehicle.


Place the jack on the underside of the car, near the tire.
Place the jack on the underside of the car, near the tire. | Source

Step 4: Place Jack

  1. Locate the frame of the car.
  2. Place jack as designated by owners manual, or indicated under axle.
  3. Manually adjust height of jack to between car frame and ground. Make sure the point of leverage is facing outwards.

Tip: Many new vehicles have a mark on the frame where the jack should go. Older vehicles may have impressions left from prior jackings. Refer to your manual.

Raise the jack by inserting the leverage arm and pumping.
Raise the jack by inserting the leverage arm and pumping. | Source

Step 5: Raise Jack

  1. Insert leverage arm of lug wrench into the point of leverage on the jack by sliding it through the corresponding holes.
  2. Grab on to the head of the lug wrench, and begin turning clockwise.
  3. The jack will begin to raise. Raise until the wheel spins freely.

Tip: Raise only until the wheel can turn, and no higher. You should not be able to see under the tire. This reduces risk of injury and damage should the jack fail.

Remove the lug nuts.
Remove the lug nuts. | Source

Step 6: Remove Lug Nuts

  1. Completely loosen and remove lug nuts. This can be done with the lug wrench or by hand.
  2. Place lug nuts in a secure location, such as your pocket or in a cup holder.
  3. Carefully remove the tire by slowly sliding it straight off. Place it flat on the ground.

Tip: Lug nuts are easy to lose. Spare lug nuts can be purchased at any tire or automotive store. As a precaution, I suggest carrying spares in your glove box, just in case.

Spare tire, with hand-tightened lug nuts.
Spare tire, with hand-tightened lug nuts. | Source

Step 7: Place Spare Tire

  1. Making sure the spare tire is oriented correctly, line it up with the lug bolts on the car, same as previous tire.
  2. Place tire onto the car.
  3. Hand-tighten lug nuts back onto lug bolts by turning them clockwise. Tighten them only until they are stiff.

*Tip: It is important not to tighten the lug nuts all the way until the tire is on the ground. This is because when the tire is suspended, it is not experiencing its usual forces as when it is sandwiched between the automobile and road. Tightening them before may cause imbalance.

After lowering the jack, tighten the lug nuts.
After lowering the jack, tighten the lug nuts. | Source

Step 8: Lower and Tighten

  1. Begin lowering jack by inserting the lug wrench into the jack (see Step 5), this time turning counter-clockwise.
  2. Once the vehicle is completely lowered, use the lug wrench to completely tighten the lug nuts by cranking it clockwise.
  3. Place hub cap over tire. It should snap right on. Refer to your manual, if needed.

Tip: Remembering which way to turn a nut can be frustrating and annoying, especially during car troubles. We use the phrase “Lefty-Loosy, Righty-Tighty” to help me remember.

Step 9: Clean up, and Go!

  1. Place replaced tire into trunk, where the spare tire is kept.
  2. Pick up all tools and put them away. Make sure trunk is secure.
  3. Check tire pressure, check that lug nuts are secure, and visually check all tires to make sure they look good.
  4. Double check around and under the car for your tools and belongings. A tool on the road could cause someone else a flat!

Tip: Sometimes spare tires can be low on air themselves. I recommend having air pump at hand. If not, be sure to check the pressure first; typical tire pressure cars and trucks is between 30PSI and 40PSI. If the tire is very low, drive slowly and carefully to the nearest gas station and fill it up.

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    • kathleenkat profile image
      Author

      kathleenkat 5 years ago from Bellingham, WA

      Thank you! Perhaps many people don't look for the answers on how to do this ahead of time, and then end up needing to learn "on the spot."

    • aykianink profile image

      aykianink 5 years ago

      Extremely useful hub. Surprised by the lack of commentary.