How to change a flat tire

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Nothing takes the joy out of a road trip like a flat tire. What a hassle. Do you know how to change it yourself? Neither did we, but we've been learning from Allan Stanley of AAA. Here's how to change a flat tire. You can download this video to your mobile phone to keep it handy, just in case.

How to change a flat tire
  1. Set up your reflective warning signal behind the vehicle.
  2. Remove the spare tire from the vehicle.
  3. Loosen the jack in order to remove the handle. (The model featured in this video has a built-in lug wrench.)
  4. Before you jack up the vehicle, you need to loosen the lug nuts. If your car has a hubcap, remove it to gain access to the lug nuts. Attach the lug wrench onto a lug nut and press down on the lug wrench so that it turns counterclockwise (to the left).
  5. Position the jack on a sturdy part of the frame nearest to the flat tire. (Your owner’s manual will likely point out the proper point to locate a jack.) You can raise up the jack by hand until it is in contact and is in good position on the frame. Insert the end of the jack handle into the jack and turn it clockwise (to the right). Carefully jack the car up, being certain to never place your hands or your legs under the vehicle, as it can fall and cause injury. Jacking takes a while, so be patient and cautious.
  6. Remove the lug nuts by turning them counterclockwise (to the left). Make sure to keep the lug nuts close to you once you remove them so they don’t roll away.
  7. Remove the flat tire and place behind the vehicle.
  8. Position the spare tire on the wheel, lining the holes up with the wheel studs.
  9. Install the lug nuts, turning clockwise (to the right) to tighten. Tighten them by hand as far as they can go. Using the lug wrench, continue tightening the lug nuts until they are firm.
  10. Insert the jack handle back into the jack and turn counterclockwise (to the left) to lower the vehicle.
  11. Once the tire is on the ground, begin tightening the lug nuts. Using the following technique will allow you to achieve equal torque on the wheel studs: Mimicking the pattern of a star, first tighten the lug nut nearest the bottom, then tighten the lug nut nearest the top, then tighten the one second closest to the bottom, then the one on the left side and finish with the one on the right side.
  12. Put all supplies back in your vehicle.
  13. Make sure not to exceed the highway speed limit while traveling on the spare tire.
Transcript

I'm Allan Stanley for howdini.com and in this segment we'll be talking about how to change a flat tire.

Certainly it's inconvenient but we're going to walk you through it step by step.

Lift up this cover to access the spare tire. We'll loosen it with the hold down then give it a couple of good raps to make sure it's full of air. The worst thing you would want to do is put on a flat spare.

Then you'll remove the tire. Be careful, this can be quite heavy.

Well we have our spare tire and our jack. We've set our reflective warning signals out. We've also chocked the wheel on the opposite side of the flat tire so we're ready to a start changing it.

The first thing we'll do is jack the vehicle up. You’ll have to loosen the jack a little bit to get the handle off. This particular model has a lug wrench built right in.
Before we jack the car, we want to loosen the lug nuts because once it's jacked up it will be very difficult to bet those lug nuts off.

This particular model has a hubcap, which we'll jut loosen those up. It doesn't take much because they are made out of plastic.

Set the hubcap out of the way. Now you have access to the lug nuts. To loosen the lug nuts position yourself firmly. Pressing counter-clockwise, loosen the lug nuts. Not too loose - just enough to crack them.

If it's a little stubborn position yourself over, and using your knee or your foot you can gain leverage. Now we're ready to jack it up.

This is a common scissors jack. The screw moves in and out allowing the mechanism to move up and down to lift your car. So, as you turn it to the right it will go up. As you loosen it the jack will collapse, allowing the car to come down.

Now, we'll position the jack.
You want to be sure to get the jack on a good part of the frame. Your owner’s manual is good place to find where to properly jack the vehicle. You can raise it up by hand until it contacts the frame and is good position.

We use the jack handle to raise the vehicle. Insert the end of the jack handle into the jack. Using it as leverage it will help make the car go up easier. Remember to turn it clockwise to go up and counter-clockwise to go down. Carefully jack the car up. Never stick your hands or your legs under the car as the car can fall and cause damage.
Jacking can take a while so be patient and cautious while you jack.

Okay, now that the car is jacked up, we'll take the lug nuts loose. Remember we already pre-loosened them while the car was on the ground making it easier. You'll notice that they'll come right off now. Trying to do that while the car was jacked up would be very difficult.

Remember to keep your lug nuts close at hand. You don't want them rolling away into the grass because they'll be hard to find and that's what holds your tire on. Again, we're turning them counter-clockwise, or to the left, to get them loose.
We'll remove the flat tire and set it over here out of the way. Now if there is a heavy traffic area you wouldn't want to leave it in the street. You might want to put it to the rear of the car.

Grab the spare tire and put it in position. You're going to center the spare tire on the wheel studs. That's where the lug nuts go. So, go ahead and do that. Lining it up, you'll see that it lines up pretty easy.

Then install your lug nuts. Again, clockwise is tight and counter-clockwise is loose. We'll tighten them up by hand as far as they'll go. Once the tire is centered and the lug nuts are hand tight take the lug wrench. Again, turning it clockwise, tighten the lug nuts until they're firm. Not too tight, because remember your car is up on a jack and we wouldn't want it falling off with too much leverage or force.

Insert the jack handle back into the jack, turning it counter-clockwise, we're going to lower the vehicle. This will take some time but going down is a lot easier than going up. If it seems to be going down easy you can just do it like this by doing it straight instead of having it angled. But, if it's too tough you can get the leverage that you’ll need to lower the jack or to raise the jack. Once you turn the jack low enough you can do it by hand now that it doesn't have contact with the frame. Now that the car is on the ground, we'll go ahead and give them that final tightening.

We're going to start down here then move to the top one then back down, over, and back again. A little star pattern to make sure we have equal torque on the wheel studs.

Okay, we have our spare tire on, it's centered up and we're ready to go.
A couple of things to remember though is you want to put everything back in the trunk. You don't want to exceed highway speed on this temporary spare. Make sure you get the big tire fixed and it will get you back on the road as soon as possible.
I'm Allan Stanley for howdini.com

meet theexpert
  • Allan Stanley

    Allan Stanley Manager, Technical Training and Research, AAA Allan Stanley is the Manager of Technical Training and Research for AAA. Stanley is an Automotive Service Excellence, Master Certified Auto Technician and has extensive experience in many facets of the automotive repair industry. He serves as Vice President of the Automotive Managers Training Council. more about this expert »

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