How to Fix a Flat Correctly


It’s another work day, so you walk out to get in your car. You realize something is wrong as you approach your car. It’s there. You turn around and find it. Flat tire. Feelings of fear and anxiety surround you

Let’s say this: Imagine yourself driving along and enjoying the music, when suddenly you feel something pull on your steering wheel like one of your wheels is being pulled through sand or mud. No matter how hard you try to steer in the other direction, the vehicle will pull and pull until you are no more in your lane. It’s time to pull over.

Both scenarios above really stink! The first is an inconvenience. The second scenario is a big inconvenience. You didn’t expect to have to deal with car problems this morning, and now you will be late for work. This second scenario is scary! Both have happened to me, and I bet you’ve also.

Are you able to change a flat-tire tire? You would think that everyone knows how to change flat tires. It would seem that this knowledge is common and easy to remember. But it’s not. It is vital to know how to change a flat-tire. It should be taught in high school driver’s education classes. The concepts should also appear on official driver’s license tests. Those are my thoughts.

Each vehicle is supplied with a contingency plan in case of flat tires. The vehicle comes with a jack, as well as other tools, such a tire iron, wrench, full-size spare tire, mini or “donut”, limited-mile tire, or no spare or Jack because it has run-flat tires. The tire inflation monitoring system can tell you if your tire is low if it’s equipped with run-flats. If this happens, you should get to a tire dealer as soon as possible for repairs. Follow these steps if you do not have run-flat tires.

You can break down the procedure to change a flat tire into 8 steps. Let’s examine these steps more closely.

Safety is your goal

Your vehicle may already be in a safe place if it is parked at your home. A safe location is one where there is little vehicular traffic. Turn on your hazard light and pull over as far as you can on the shoulder of the road if your “incident” with your tire occurred while driving. You should not be too close to a ditch, or “soft” shoulder. You should have enough support to lift a vehicle on a jack.

Here’s a quick disclaimer about your flat tire. It is best to drive as little as possible. Tires are not meant to be driven with no air. The more you drive on them, the greater chance that they will become damaged and need to be replaced.

Get equipment checked and purchased

Notice: Make sure you check your spare tire and equipment before you use them.

Examine your tire-changing equipment. Locate your jack, spare tires, and other tools. You will find these items in your trunk under the floorboard. You can check your owner’s manual to find out where they are located. You may find the jack under a seat, underneath the hood or in a separate compartment within the vehicle.

Sometimes parts can be scattered all over the vehicle. For example, the jack, wrench, and spare tire lowering iron are located under the radiator in my 1997 Ford Expedition.

Take out any items that are necessary to access these parts. Make sure the spare tire is properly inflated and find all necessary jacking tools. Take them out of the vehicle. To lower the spare tire on trucks or SUVs, you’ll need to use the crank-and-cable mechanism found through the rear bumper.

Safety is another important consideration. Road flares are a good idea. One flare should be placed 100 feet from your vehicle’s back. A second flare should be deployed at 200 feet if you are on the road or highway side. This will notify other drivers that your vehicle has been disabled.

Stabilize your vehicle

Next, stabilize your vehicle. This is done to stop the vehicle moving when it is being jacked. Modern vehicles have a wheel chock, which should be placed under the rear or front wheel. The wheel chock acts as a wedge. You can use a large piece of stone or wood to wedge the wheel under it if you don’t have one.

Jacking vehicle

Before you lift the vehicle, use your tire iron/crowbar to loosen the lug nuts and bolts. This is important because it will be difficult to remove the tires once they are off the ground. The wheel will spin if you attempt to do so. For proper use of a jack, make sure you consult your owner’s manual.

Place the jack under a frame rail, or at the designated point. Indentions under doors indicate where jacking points are. If the door has rubber supports, these may be able to hold the jack’s hook. For support, place the jack foot on a solid surface. To raise the vehicle, turn or crank the handle of the jack. To remove the tire with the flat tire, raise the vehicle enough to allow for installation of the full-inflated spare. It should not be raised higher than it is.

Flat tire removal

You can hold the wheel in one hand and loosen the lug nuts using the wrench or crowbar the other. There will be 4 to 5 lug nuts that you need to remove. You will need to place the lug nuts somewhere safe. Most lug nuts attach to the wheel hub bolts. Some lug nuts can be lugged bolts, which screw into the holes in the wheel hub. These are easier to install than the spare.

Installation of spare tire

Install the spare tire on the wheel lugs by lifting it up. To insert the first bolt, lug nuts that are actually lugged bolts will need to be supported. This can be tricky. Cross-threading the bolts is a bad idea. Cross-threading is when the bolt starts to screw in, but becomes difficult to turn. If this happens, you should back the bolt out and try again. You can loosen each bolt or lug, but not all of them.

The bolts should be tightened in a “star” shape. Start all the bolts, 4 to 5, by hand tightening them. Next, use your lug wrench, or crowbar to tighten the bolt a bit at 12 o’clock. Next, tighten your bolt at 6 or 7 o’clock depending on how many nuts/bolts are you using. Next, tighten the bolt/nut at 3 o’clock. Then, tighten it again at 9 o’clock. Continue making a star-shaped pattern by tightening each lug/bolt slightly, moving around the clock until all nuts/bolts have been fully tightened.

This is done to ensure that the wheel sits perfectly on the hub of the wheel so it turns smoothly without vibration. This is extremely important.

Reduce the vehicle’s weight

After the spare tire has been properly installed, lower the vehicle slowly on the ground using the jack. You should make sure there are no body parts or anything underneath the wheel.

Clean up the work area

Once you have changed the flat tire, it is time to get everything. The wheel with the flat tire should be returned to the trunk, or the place where you took the spare. Attach the tire to the cable mechanisme for trucks or SUVs and turn it to raise the tire underneath.

Make sure to properly store your jack, cranking arms and lug wrench. If road flares were used, you should put them out if they’re still burning.

That’s all! You’re done. You can now go to your nearest tire shop or mechanic to have the tire replaced or repaired. This is important because you won’t have a spare for another flat. Check your spare tire and jacking gear now to ensure that you are prepared for the inevitable flat tire event.

Knowing how to change a tire can quickly save you from potentially dangerous situations. Situations like dangerous highways or even more dangerous neighborhoods. No one likes being vulnerable so the faster you get your car back in your hands and on your way, you’ll be better off. You might even get to work on-time!


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