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By Reese Langdon, staff writer

Sadly, AAA, Onstar and your parents can’t always be there for you every time you need a tire change. Learning to change a tire is not just a convenient skill to have, but it is also a safety measure. You do not want to get stuck out in the middle of nowhere with no service and have to flag down a potentially dangerous stranger because of an unexpected nail in the road. Avoid this whole situation by following these simple steps to changing a tire.

Items needed

  • Jack.
  • Lug wrench.
  • Fully inflated spare tire.
  • Vehicle owner's manual.

Other items useful to have in your car for changing a tire

  • Flashlight with working batteries.
  • Rain poncho.
  • A small cut of 2"x6” wood to secure the jack.
  • Gloves.
  • Wheel wedges.

Step one: preparation

Make sure you find a secure location to change the tire. Try and stay away from curves or anywhere else where you would not be easily seen. Parking lots are the best option, but anywhere with stable and level ground will work. Don’t drive around on your flat for too long or damage will be done to the axle and wheel and you could swerve and fishtail. Once you have found the closest safe place, turn your hazard lights on, put your car in park, and begin getting all of the items needed.

Step two: removing the flat tire

First, apply the wheel wedges. If you do not have wheel wedges, any large rock, brick or chunk of wood will work. If you’re changing a rear tire, place these in front of the front tires. If your flat tire is at the front, put the wheel wedges behind the rear tires. Some cars have a hubcap that needs to be removed in order to loosen the lug nuts. Next, loosen the lug nuts by turning the lug wrench counterclockwise. Then, place the jack under the metal frame of your car. Some cars may change the placement of the jack, so check your owner’s manual first. Start lifting the car off the ground, and make sure that the jack is sturdy. If you are unsure about the security of the jack, place a small cut of wood under it, especially if you are on asphalt. Once the car is far enough off the ground, unscrew the lug nuts off by hand. The tire should be easy to remove just by pulling it toward your body.

Step three: changing the tire

Now place the spare on the hub by lining up the holes in the spare with the lug nut posts. Put the lug nuts back on and only tighten by hand until they are all on. This ensures that later on the lug nuts will be properly straightened and the tire will be straight. Slowly lower your vehicle until the spare touches the ground to hold the tire in place while you use the lug wrench. While turning the lug wrench clockwise to fully tighten all your lug nuts, make sure to use your whole body. Once all the lug nuts are tightened, lower your vehicle all the way.

Step four: driving off

Put away any items that you have taken out and do not leave anything on the road so others can drive safely. If you have a hubcap, return it to cover your wheel. Once you get in your car and turn it on, check your tire pressure. Spare tires aren’t made to drive long distances or at high speeds, so visit a tire technician. They should be able to determine whether your tire needs a repair or if it’s time to replace it. Don’t forget to replace your spare. You never know when you will be in one of these unpredictable situations.

Created By
Reese Langdon
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Credits:

Allyson Smith