A Step-by-Step Guide to Changing a Tire
Driving isn’t the only thing you should know how to do when you own a car. Basic vehicle maintenance and repair are also important knowledge to have for your vehicle’s health and your safety.
This is especially true in the unplanned event of a flat tire. That’s why our team at Halterman’s Toyota got together to create this step-by-step guide to changing a tire – so that you’ll know what to do when the unexpected happens.
First Things First
Find a safe location.
Reduce your speed slowly and scan your surroundings for some solid, level ground. It’s best to avoid soft ground and hills to prevent rolling or instability. Try to park as far away from traffic as possible and turn on your hazard lights.
If you’re on a narrow shoulder, keep driving slowly until you find a safer spot. Replacing a rim is better than being hit by an inattentive driver. Then, get out that owner’s manual, you’ll need to use it.
What You’ll Need
Stuff that should’ve come with your vehicle:
- Vehicle owner’s manual
- Fully inflated spare tire
- Lug wrench
- Car Jack
Other stuff that’s helpful to have on hand:
- Small cut of 2×6” wood to secure the jack
- Flashlight (with batteries)
- Wheel wedges
- Rain poncho
Always make sure you have these items in your car, just in case. If you don’t, we suggest purchasing or gathering new ones ASAP.
How to Change Your Tire
After you’ve found a safe location, follow these steps to replace your flat tire (and check your owner’s manual for more specifics):
- 1. Apply the parking brake & wheel wedges
- Always use these to reduce your chances of rolling. If you’re changing a back
tire, put the wheel wedges in front of the front tires. If you’re changing a front tire,
put them behind the rear wheels.
- 2. Remove the hubcap or wheel cover
- Consult the owner’s manual for proper hubcap or wheel cover removal. If your
lug nuts are exposed, then you can skip this step.
- 3. Loosen the lug nuts
- Using your lug wrench and a little elbow grease, loosen the lug nuts
about ¼ to ½ of a turn counterclockwise (but don’t completely remove them).
They could be on tight, so give it all you got.
- 4. Place the jack beneath the vehicle frame alongside the flat tire
- Most vehicles have an exposed metal area specifically for the jack. Follow the
owner’s manual for specific instructions on where to place the jack.
- 5. Raise the vehicle with the jack
- Place a small cut of 2×6” wood beneath the jack before raising the vehicle to prevent the jack from settling under the weight and coming off balance. Raise about 6-inches off the ground.
- 6. Unscrew the lug nuts and remove the flat tire
- Remove the lug nuts completely, then grip the tire by the treads and carefully pull
it free from the hub behind it. Set the flat tire aside.
- 7. Mount the spare tire on the lug bolts
- Line up the rim with the lug bolts. Push the tire back gently until the lug bolts show through.
- 8. Tighten the lug nuts by hand
- Put the lug nuts on the lug bolts and tighten them as much as possible by hand.
- 9. Lower the vehicle and tighten the lug nuts again
- Lower until the spare tire is resting on the ground, but the full weight isn’t on it yet. Tighten the lug nuts with the wrench now, pushing down on it with the full weight of your body.
- 10. Lower the vehicle completely
- Remove the jack when the car is on the ground again. Give another pull on the lug nuts with the wrench to make sure they’re as tight as possible.
- 11. Replace the hubcap and stow all equipment
- The hubcap might not fit on the spare, so if that’s the case just stow it away with the rest of your equipment for the time being.
- 12. Check the spare tire’s pressure
- Make sure it’s safe to drive on, and if it isn’t then immediately drive (slowly) to a service station.
- 13. Visit a technician
- Temporary spare tires aren’t supposed to be driven for long distances or high speeds, so visit a technician ASAP so they can determine if your tire needs a repair or replacement. Drive cautiously until then.