Why it matters
All drivers should know how to change a flat tire. Flat tires can happen anywhere and knowing how to replace one can save you from being stranded somewhere on the side of the road. Luckily, replacing a flat tire isn’t major auto care. The following guidelines will prepare you for this basic car maintenance. If you still have questions, stop by one of HEART Auto Care’s three convenient locations in Northbrook, Evanston or Wilmette for all your tire questions.
What you’ll need
Here are a few items that will come in handy for replacing a flat tire:
- Lug wrench
- Fully inflated spare tire
- Vehicle owner’s manual
Step by step instructions
1. Find a safe place to park.
If possible, avoid parking on dirt or grass, as your jack may sink and become unstable. Try to stay off hills to prevent your vehicle from rolling.
2. Secure your vehicle.
Turn off your engine, and engage the emergency or parking break. Place wheel chocks or something heavy behind the side tire of the side that’s being raised. This will keep your car from rolling.
3. Grab your tools.
If you’ve never previously used your jack, spare tire, or other tools, consult your vehicle owner’s manual to locate them. When you’ve found these essentials, try them out and familiarize yourself with how to use them. It’s highly recommended that you practice changing a flat before you actually have to replace a tire. Trying to replace a tire on a dark, rainy night for the first time can be frustrating and even dangerous.
4. Loosen the lug nuts slightly before you jack your car up.
If your tires have wheel covers or hubcaps, remove them first by using a screwdriver or the flat end of the jack handle or lug wrench. Some cars have wheel covers held in place by the lug nuts ,and this cover should be left in place. Loosen the lug nuts with the lug wrench by turning counter clockwise. Hold the wrench firmly and push down. You should never pull up on the wrench. Loosen the lug nuts one turn, but do not remove them yet. If the nuts are too tight, use your foot to push down on the lug wrench or apply penetrating oil to loosen them.
5. Jack your car up.
Consult your owner’s manual to locate the best place to secure your jack. Crank your car up at least 6 inches, or however much is needed to remove the flat tire. If you notice instability, lower your car and reposition the jack. You should never place a jack under the axle or suspension member.
6. Remove the lug nuts.
Remove the lug nuts with the lug wrench and place them somewhere secure to make sure you won’t misplace them.
7. Remove the flat tire.
Pull the tire off with both hands. Place the tire under your car, in case the jack is unstable and drops your car. If you have difficulty removing the tire due to rust or other factors, hit the rubber with a hammer or apply a penetrating oil to loosen the joints.
8. Put on your spare tire.
Align your spare tire with the wheel bolts in front of your wheel well. Add the lug nuts to affix the tire. Turn the lug nuts clockwise by hand as tightly as possible. Take your wrench and turn the bolt tight enough to secure the tire before lowering your car to the ground. Do not completely tighten the lug nuts.
9. Lower your car.
Slowly lower your car to the ground. Remove the jack and any blocks you used. Tighten the lug nuts as much as possible.
Many spare tires are not full size tires. They are smaller and should be driven at low speeds for only short distances. Consult your owner’s manual for instructions and warnings for driving with a spare tire or stop by one of HEART Auto Care’s three convenient locations in Northbrook, Evanston or Wilmette for all your tire questions.
Now you are prepared to change a flat tire!
If you still have questions bring your car to HEART Certified Auto Care in Evanston, Northbrook, and Wilmette to make sure your tires are ready for the road. We’ll get you back on the road in no time.