- Do It Yourself Auto Repair
How to Change a Tire Step by Step
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.
You Will Need:
- Spare Tire (1)
- Jack (2)
- Lug Wrench (3)
- Hub Cap Removal Tool (4), or
- 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).
- Set Hazard Lights
- Turn off Engine
- Set Parking Brake
- 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.
Step 2: Remove Hub Cap
- Insert Flathead into the space where the cover meets the tire.
- Apply slight leverage.
- 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.
Step 3: Loosen Lug Nuts
- Place the lug wrench over the head of a lug nut.
- Rotate lug wrench to the left.
- Loosen nut until it spins freely. Do not remove.
- 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.
Step 4: Place Jack
- Locate the frame of the car.
- Place jack as designated by owners manual, or indicated under axle.
- 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.
Step 5: Raise Jack
- Insert leverage arm of lug wrench into the point of leverage on the jack by sliding it through the corresponding holes.
- Grab on to the head of the lug wrench, and begin turning clockwise.
- 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.
Step 6: Remove Lug Nuts
- Completely loosen and remove lug nuts. This can be done with the lug wrench or by hand.
- Place lug nuts in a secure location, such as your pocket or in a cup holder.
- 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.
Step 7: Place Spare Tire
- Making sure the spare tire is oriented correctly, line it up with the lug bolts on the car, same as previous tire.
- Place tire onto the car.
- 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.
Step 8: Lower and Tighten
- Begin lowering jack by inserting the lug wrench into the jack (see Step 5), this time turning counter-clockwise.
- Once the vehicle is completely lowered, use the lug wrench to completely tighten the lug nuts by cranking it clockwise.
- 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!
- Place replaced tire into trunk, where the spare tire is kept.
- Pick up all tools and put them away. Make sure trunk is secure.
- Check tire pressure, check that lug nuts are secure, and visually check all tires to make sure they look good.
- 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.