Flat tires can ruin your vibe, whether on a short or long journey. Though current tire design and materials have made flat tires infrequent, it is safe to anticipate them anytime. Many of us rely on roadside assistance when we get a flat tire.
What if you’re at a place with no mobile coverage, or your phone is dead? You won’t even get help if you’re at a remote location. So, remember that a mobile phone won’t always help fix a flat tire. Since a flat tire can show up anytime, it is always good to know how to fix it. Checking the tire pressure before going on a trip isn’t always possible. So, read more about how to change a flat tire on a car and save time and money if and when it does happen while you’re driving.
How do I know if my car needs its tire fixed?
It is a bit risky if a flat tire shows up while driving. You will get a warning if your car has a tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS). You replace a flat tire as soon as you get the warning. Another way you can know this is when you start experiencing a clear difference in car handling and steering response. Also, your car will start to sag towards a corner. Blow-out is another chance that can lead to fixing your tire. You will either notice a loud sound or the sound of tire fragments striking your car’s body when a blow-out happens. Be careful when a blow-out happens. Don’t ever try to slam on the brakes; reduce the acceleration and softly steer your car to the road shoulder or a nearby parking area. Then carefully follow these steps on how to change a flat tire to fix the issue.
How to change a flat tire on a car: Some steps to follow
1. Find a suitable parking space
Once you realize that your car has a flat tire, find parking at an empty lot or on an uncrowded road. It is always best to park your car on level ground, preventing the car from rolling. Always park at straight stretches as other drivers can see you well. If you’re at a narrow stretch, dark, or in a risky area, drive carefully to a better spot and change the flat tire.
2. Check for items that will help you fix a flat tire
A jack, lug wrench, vehicle owner’s manual, and a fully inflated spare tire should always be in your vehicle. You should purchase these items if you’ve misplaced them or your car didn’t have these items. What are the other items you need to have while changing a flat tire? It will be wise if you have a flashlight, gloves, rain poncho, tire gauge, mat for kneeling, and wheel wedges in your trunk or glove box.
Tip: Always remember to check spare tire pressure while you do for other tires. Regularly inflate the spare tire with the recommended PSI. It is always safe to check tires’ pressure before going on a long trip.
3. Turn on hazard lights and parking brake
This is a very important step when you’re trying to change a flat tire. Put on the parking brake once you’ve found the perfect parking spot. It stops your car from rolling. On the hazard lights so those other drivers coming through the road will be able to see you and your car properly.
4. Use wheel wedges
Place wheel wedges in front or behind the tires while you’re changing the flat tire. It ensures that your car won’t roll while you’re changing the tire. Keep the wedges behind the rear tires if the flat tire is at the front. If one of your rear tires got punctured, place the wedges in front of the front tires.
Tip: Large stones or bricks can also act as wedges!
5. Loosening the lug nuts
If your car has a hubcap (wheel cover), remove it first. Then start loosening the lug nuts using the lug wrench. You have to turn the nuts using the wrench clockwise to loosen them. Do this step with all the lug nuts until each one is loose enough to be rotated by hand.
6. Lift your car using the jack
Always place the jack below the vehicle frame alongside the flat tire. Never place the jack where it comes in contact with any plastic molding. Look at the owner’s manual to find the correct spot for placing the jack. Once you place the jack, use it to raise the car until the flat tire is six inches above the ground. Always make sure that the jack remains perpendicular to the ground every time. Avoid putting your body under the car while raising the car with the jack and even after doing it.
7. Removing the lug nuts and tire completely
Once loosened, unscrew the lug nuts completely. Safely keep the lug nuts together as you need them to secure the spare tire. Then firmly grip the flat tire and remove it from your car by pulling it towards your body.
8. Mounting the spare tire on lug bolts and tightening
While you understand more about changing a flat tire, mounting the spare tire plays a vital role. Fix the spare tire on the hub by positioning the rim with the lug bolts. Gently push until the lug bolts are visible through the rim. Replace the lug nuts on the lug bolts and start tightening them with your hand. Once they’re all on, double-check each one and tighten as much as possible. Tighten them with the wrench only after lowering the vehicle to the ground.
9. Tighten lug nuts after lowering the vehicle
Start lowering your vehicle with the jack such that the spare tire slowly touches the ground. Make the tire touch the ground that the full weight of your car shouldn’t be on the tire. Then start tightening the lug nuts using the wrench by turning them clockwise. Press the lug wrench with the full weight of your body.
10. Lower your car completely and finish tightening
It is the final step to be followed while learning how to change a flat tire. You need to remove the jack when you completely lower the car to the ground. Ensure the nuts are tightened well by giving another pull with the wrench. Then replace the hubcap on the spare tire. Never forget to put your tools back in the trunk or glove box before restarting your journey. Also, make sure you check the tire pressure.
How to change a flat tire: Is it safe to drive with a spare tire?
Yes. But be aware that spare tires aren’t designed to drive at high speeds or long distances. So, visit a tire technician asap once you restart your journey. If the mechanic can’t repair the flat tire, buy a spare tire soon. Be mindful that it is never safe to travel without a spare tire.
Do you want to know how to fix a puncture? Here’s how you can fix a puncture after the removal of nails from your tire.
Rollin’ with the Punches: Driving on a Flat Tire!
Driving on a flat tire can be a real drag. It’s like trying to dance with a limp leg or carrying a piano up a flight of stairs with one hand tied behind your back.
If you suspect that you have a flat tire, pull over to a safe location as soon as possible. Don’t be like the characters in horror movies who keep driving despite the ominous sounds coming from their car. Remember what happened to the teenagers in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” when they ignored their flat tire? Yeah, not pretty.
Once you’ve safely parked your car, look at the tire. Is it visibly flat or just a little low on air? You can inflate it enough to get to a service station or repair shop if it’s the latter. But if it’s flat, don’t even think about driving on it.
Assuming you don’t have a spare tire, you must call for roadside assistance. Once the tow truck arrives, you’ll be on your way to getting your tire fixed or replaced.
Driving on a flat tire is never a good idea. So, be smart, be safe, and always keep a spare tire handy.
How long will it take to replace a flat tire?
Ensure that you correctly follow all these steps on how to replace a flat tire. Normally, it will take around 15-30 minutes to change a flat tire. Keep practicing to make the duration shorter and avoid depending on a mechanic or roadside assistance every time.
How much does it cost to change a flat tire?
A flat tire fix cost depends on the extent of the damage. It typically costs between $15-30 for repairing a simple puncture. Never continue driving with a flat tire, as the repair costs will surge, or you will have to get it replaced. Buying a new tire can cost between $100-200 based on the car model and tire quality.
How to change a flat tire: Some essential tips
- Once a flat tire shows up, park your car in a suitable parking spot. Always park on the road with level ground.
- Ensure to have a jack, lug wrench, vehicle owner’s manual, and a fully inflated spare tire in your car always.
- Turn on the hazard lights and parking brake while changing the tire.
- Be careful not to put your body under the car while raising it with the jack.
- Never drive your car at high speeds or go for long drives with a spare tire.
- Visit a tire technician quickly once you’ve replaced the flat tire. Get it repaired or replaced asap.
- Ensure to follow all the steps correctly on how to change a flat tire to have a safe ride after replacing the tire.
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