Change a Tire
Safety should be your number one priority. If you are not confident about this task or are not in a safe location – CALL ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE. Many insurance companies offer roadside assistance with your vehicle’s coverage. Some phone companies also offer roadside assistance, often for less than one Starbucks latte a month.
If you choose to change your own tire, please follow these safety precautions first:
1. Turn on your emergency 4-way flashers.
2. Find a safe and level spot to park as soon as possible. If you cannot quickly find an area that fits both of these criteria, call a tow service.
3. Put your parking brake on.
4. Turn off your vehicle.
5. Ask all passengers to exit the vehicle and to move to a safe location.
If you have your owner’s manual in the vehicle, pull it out and locate tire changing in the emergency section. This will help identify information specific to your vehicle. It will also help you locate your tire!
NOTE – This is NOT appropriate footwear for this task. Also, this process can be tough. One excellent item to keep in your car for times like these is a breaker bar. A breaker bar can be purchased at any tool store for around $20. This will allow the user to get better torque when trying to loosen the lug nuts. Lug nuts are often tightened with an impact wrench at the tire shop. This over tightens the lug nut making it very difficult to loosen. Next time you have your tires replaced or rotated, ask the mechanic to finish the job by hand with a torque wrench. This will ensure that your tires are secure AND you will be able to loosen the lug nuts if need be.
WARNING – Be careful not to overextend the jack. An overextended tire jack can cause a serious safety hazard. It will be unstable and could dislodge from its position – causing the vehicle to fall. If your vehicle is parked on soft dirt or gravel, your jack may sink into the ground. You can still change your flat tire, but you will not be able raise your jack to a safe position (as shown in picture on left) and still raise the tire off the ground. DO NOT OVEREXTEND THE JACK. Extend the jack to the proper position and then dig the gravel or dirt out from underneath the tire.
NOTE – If you lose a lug nut, do not despair. You only need two lug nuts to make your vehicle drivable in an emergency situation. MAKE SURE TO HEAD DIRECTLY TO A SERVICE STATION IF THIS IS THE CASE. DRIVE SLOWLY! Have all your lug nuts replaced to return your vehicle to a regular use status.
12. Place all of the tools and flat tire in the vehicle and drive to the nearest service station. If you do not want to replace the tire at this moment, at least ask if the service attendant can check the torque on your lug nuts to make sure that they are sufficiently tightened. You can be impressed that you were able to change a tire!
TIP: Remember to carefully watch your speed while driving on a donut tire, you should not drive over 50 miles per hour. If you have a full size spare, make sure that your tire is tightened properly before approaching speeds above 50 mph.