Sooner or later, we all end up with a flat tire. That's all right; it happens. But we want to show you how to easily change a tire on your own, which doesn't have to be a pain. And you certainly don't need to call AAA.
Here's a short video explaining the simplest and safest way to change a flat tire. It runs about 10 minutes, which includes me stopping to explain a lot -- so assume a tire change is about a 7-minute job. There's also a list below of 10 steps you can follow. Before you begin, I should call your attention to a few pro tips:
- "Jacks are always about to fail." They aren't really, but if you make that your mantra, changing a tire won't feel so scary. You won't put yourself in harm's way in the highly unlikely case that the car comes tumbling down off the 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, so if you pick them up the wrong way and throw out your back, you'll never be open 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% of late-model cars don't even have a spare. Instead, they rely on either seal-and-fill kits that repair the tire while it stays on the car, or they use run-flat tires that can limp without air to the nearest tire shop. Until you have one of those newer vehicles, watch the video.
Changing a flat in 10 easy steps
1. Secure the car on a flat surface out of traffic; chock the wheel in the opposite corner.
2. Loosen the lug nuts on the wheel with the car's lug wrench.
3. Place the car's jack under the car where its label indicates.
4. Jack up enough to get the wheel an inch or two off the ground.
5. Finish loosening the lug nuts and remove the flat tire.
6. Put the spare tire on.
7. Thread the nuts on and tighten just enough to hold the wheel on without slop.
8. Lower the jack so the car is back on the ground.
9. Finish tightening the nuts with upper body strength on the lug wrench.
10. Collect the flat, wrench, jack and anything you used to chock the car.