If you find yourself with a flat tire, don't fret. Sure, no one wants to change a tire, but it happens -- and it doesn't have to be a chore. Despite that jack in your trunk looking intimidating, you don't need to call AAA for help. We'll help you change your flat tire.
Here's a short video that explains how to change a flat tire the best and safest way. It runs about 10 minutes, and that's including me stopping to explain a lot of things. So assume a tire change is about a 7-minute job. There's a list of the steps at the bottom of this article as well. Before you watch the video, I want to call your attention to a few pro tips:
- "All jacks are always about to fail." They aren't, but if you make that your mantra there's nothing scary about changing a tire; You won't be in harm's way in the highly unlikely case that the car comes tumbling down off its jack.
- Keep some gloves and a kneeling pad in your car. These two things radically transform changing a tire from an uncomfortable, dirty process into an easy, clean one.
- Watch my tip on how to "knee jack" your car's tire and wheel off the ground; they can be heavy and if you pick them up the wrong way and throw out your back, you'll never warm up to changing a tire again.
The only thing better than changing a flat the right way is not having to change one at all: AAA says 30 percent of late-model cars don't even have a spare, relying on either seal-and-fill kits that repair the tire while it stays on the car, or by using run-flat tires that you can limp to the nearest tire shop without air in them. Until you have one of those cars, watch the video.
Changing a flat in 10 steps
- Secure the car on a flat surface out of traffic; chock the wheel in the opposite corner.
- Loosen the lug nuts on the wheel with the car's lug wrench.
- Place the car's jack under the car where its label indicates.
- Jack up enough to get the wheel an inch or two off the ground.
- Finish loosening the lug nuts and remove the flat tire.
- Put the spare tire on.
- Thread the nuts on and tighten just enough to hold the wheel on without slop.
- Lower the jack so the car is back on the ground.
- Finish tightening the nuts with upper body strength on the lug wrench.
- Collect the flat, wrench, jack and anything you used to chock the car.