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Change a Tire

Change a Tire

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Please read before you begin:

Scream - Change a tireSafety 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!

Get the right tools - Change a tire

1. Locate the tools you will need for the job. Most vehicles are equipped with a tire jack, tire iron, and spare tire. Some tires will have a spare tire hook that is used to release the spare tire from its containment system. You will also need a pair of work gloves and a chock block (or an item that will work as a stopper for your vehicle to prevent it from rolling while you are changing the tire.) If you cannot find an item large enough, use your spare tire. 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 and will help you locate your tire.

Sample spare tire storage - change a tire

2. There are several types of spare tire storage systems. Above are a few examples of the most common types.

Postion the tools correctly - change a tire

3. You will need to use a tire iron. Some tire irons are multi-purpose tools that work on the lug nuts and with the tire jack. You will need to properly extend it.

loosen the lug nut - change a tire

4. Before raising the car with the tire jack, loosen each wheel lug nut ONE TURN with a tire iron (pictured in center and on right) or a breaker bar (pictured on left). Remember “lefty loose-y and right-y tight-y”.

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.

Position the jack - change a tire

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.

rotate the jack - change a tire

6. Your tire iron may connect to the tire jack. It will work as a handle to raise and lower the jack. Check your owner’s manual for specifics about the tools included with your vehicle. In these pictures you rotate the handle in, around and then straight up. Repeat the process until the jack has raised the car to the necessary height.

Remove each lug nut and place them in a safe place - change a tire

7. Remove each lug nut and place them in a safe place.

remove the tire - change a tire

8. Remove the flat tire and lay it on the ground. You may have to give the top of the tire a good kick to loosen it from the vehicle.

Put the spare tire on the vehicle - change a tire

9. Slide the spare tire on making sure the air valve faces out. If you scoot the tire on the ground towards the rotor it will be easier than trying to lift the tire. Sitting down will help.

Replace the lug nuts

10. Replace the lug nuts and tighten until the tire begins to spin.

Lover the vehicle and tighten the lug nuts - change a tire

11. Lower the vehicle and finish tightening the lug nuts. Tighten lug nuts in a criss-cross or spider web fashion. This makes sure that the wheel is tightened evenly.

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!

tipiconTIP: 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.




About The Author

Pedals and Pumps

PedalsandPumps provides direct, honest information about car maintenance and repair. We provide money and time saving tips for readers who want to maximize their dollar and simplify their auto owning experience.


If you have lost a cap on your tire inflation valve, mention it at your next oil change and the technician will probably replace it for your for free. More ways to tell if you have a tire pressure issue.