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How to change a flat tire on your car

Updated on October 18, 2010

Always change a flat on a flat

The first thing you want to do when changing a flat tire is to get your car on a flat area. You should never attempt to change a flat on a slope, because you're going to be jacking the car up. If you don't understand why jacking up a car on a slope is insanely dangerous, just call someone for help right now, because you have no business being near a moving metal box that weighs over a ton.

What you'll need

You need the following things to change a tire:

  • A spare tire that is inflated properly. If you're spare isn't inflated to specs, you aren't going to be able to change the tire.
  • A jack. Because you'll need to lift your car up.
  • An air pressure gauge. You'll want this to check tire pressure. Always keep one in your car. They only cost a buck or two.
  • A tire iron.
  • A brick or large rock are also useful

Changing the flat

Put the car in park and set the emergency brake. Block the tire opposite the flat with a brick or stone. If you are changing the driver's side front wheel, block the passenger rear wheel behind the wheel.

Raise up the car by the flat tire using your jack. Don't raise it up off the ground yet. Remove the wheel cover if your car has them and start to loosen the wheel lugs with your tire iron.

Now lift the car up enough so the tire is no longer touching the ground. Remove the wheel lugs completely now. Take the spare tire and put it on. Easier said than done, right? Just balance it on your foot as you line it up with the wheel studs. Screw the wheel lugs back on the wheel. Do this by hand at first to prevent cross-threading. Once you get them all "hand tight", lower the jack all the way and put it aside. Now REMEMBER TO TIGHTEN THE WHEEL LUGS ALL THE WAY USING THE TIRE IRON. My caps lock key didn't get stuck there, I just think that last point is really important, unless you want your spare popping off as you go down the highway.

You're finished!

Put the wheel cover back on. Load your flat into the back and don't forget to put your jack in the car. If you just bought this from Wal-Mart you can usually take it back and get store credit or even a full refund if you kept the receipt, but I recommend that every car have a jack in it just in case. The jacks you can buy at any car store or at Wal-Mart are generally much better than any jack that might come with your car.


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