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How to change a flat tire

Updated on November 20, 2009

Many may not believe that knowing how to change a flat tire is an important skill. With today's technology and conveniences it may not seem to be needed anymore. I too felt this way but a recent experience changed my mind.

I was driving down the interstate and my car started to shake. My front left tire tore and was starting to rip off. Luckily I was able to get over to the side of the road before causing an accident. I had previously checked and reviewed all the necessary equipment to change a flat tire and was prepared.

There are several reasons why you will want to change your own flat tire.
1: Time. If you have ever called a tow truck you know that it can take 30,45 or more minutes before they even get to you let alone drive you to a mechanic. If you are on a schedule and have someplace to be you need to get fixed fast.
2: Location of the flat. Even in today's age of technology there are places where you won't have cell phone reception. Perhaps you forgot to recharge it recently.
3: Don't count on others to help you. Not once while I was changing my flat tire did anyone nor even a police officer stop to see if I needed help. This was on a major interstate, at 9:00 am, on a work day.
4: Are you able to make a phone call for help? Do you have the phone number of your insurance company with you in your car? Do you have a number of a local tow truck handy? A working cellphone and full car insurance coverage will do you know good if you cannot call for help. This goes for any auto emergency not just flat tires.
5: Do not drive on a flat tire. Absolutely do not drive on your flat tire. It will cause damage to your car itself and turn a relatively cheap new tire cost into an expensive repair bill.

Most cars should originally come with everything you need to change a flat tire. Spare tire, lug wrench, and car jack. Its important to check and review each piece ahead of time. The comfort and safety of your home and with a working car is when you want to find out surprises not stranded and in need of help. This is especially important to check with a used car where a previous owner might have not included these parts to you.

The car jack

Obviously a very important part of changing a flat tire is to raise your car up enough to get the flat tire off and put the spare tire on.  Place the jack under a sturdy piece of metal underneath one of the doors. The car jack is raise by placing its car jack key (straight piece of metal) or a screwdriver through the holes in one of the ends and turning it.  This pulls the car jack ends together and raises the car. Just about anyone can operate this and it does not take much strength at all, just a bit of time.

The lug wrench

With your car raised you are now ready to use the lug wrench to remove the flat tire. This step will be the hardest in terms of physical strength but pretty much anyone can.  Getting that first twist is the hardest but once it is loosened the rest is easy.  Take your hubcap off and place it upside down to hold the lug nuts that you will remove off your car. The last thing you want is to have it fall to the ground and roll out into the middle of a busy street.

With the lugs off remove the tire and place your spare tire on. Don't worry about which way it goes on. The tire should only fit one way. Screw back on each lug nut and put them on as tight as you can. Don't worry about putting them on too tight because when you go to replace your tire they will have tools to remove your spare.


Fix-a-flat is a great temporary aid for minor flat tires and will save a lot of time and work. Basically it's a can of compressed air and a chemical sealer. It fits over the air nozzle of a tire and reinflates the tire and sprays some goop into the tire to temproarily seal a hole. It won't fix it for long but it will fix a flat tire that has a small leak long enough to drive to a mechanic to buy a new tire. I have not used one myself but have a couple of friends that have had lots of work and time saved by it.

Preparation and review is key.
Fixing a flat tire is relatively simple if you review and go over your equipment but you want to make sure everything is ready ahead of time. The 5-10 minutes it takes to check your spare tire, lug wrench, and car jack might end up saving you money from a tow truck and time in not waiting for someone to rescue you.


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