To anyone who has ever been caught out with a flat tire away from home with little mechanical knowledge, you will share in the heartache of not knowing what to do to change it on your own.
Being capable of changing a tire independently is a skill that all motorists should hold. Many of us are members of roadside assistance services, though even then, the time it can take to receive such assistance (not to mention the embarrassment of admitting you are not capable of fixing it yourself) is not worth enduring.
Lucky for you, changing a tire is a relatively easy task to complete, if you are not afraid of getting your hands a little dirty and putting your back into it.
Changing Your Tire
1. If your tire runs flat whilst driving, do not panic and gently apply the brakes. Attempt to locate a suitably safe place to complete the tire change. On a busy road, try to enter a side street where it is quieter. On a highway, pull over as far away from the moving traffic as physically possible. If the tire is discovered flat whilst parked, ensure that there is sufficient space between you and other vehicles to complete the change.
2. Making sure that the ground is flat and stable, apply the vehicle’s hand break. The hand-break is not sufficient in order to stop the vehicle from rolling, so something else with be required to “chock” the vehicles. Try to locate some timber, bricks or similar to do this. Worst case scenario, the spare wheel can be employed for this task.
3. Remove the spare tire and jack from the storage location and place beside your vehicle. All cars have a designated jacking point, with a steel lip to lock into place. It is imperative that you locate this point, or you could damage your vehicle and or cause harm to your self.
4. Prior to jacking, loosen the wheel nuts (lug nuts) with the tool supplied with your vehicle. You will find that if the wheel is off the ground prior to loosening the wheel nuts, then the wheel will turn, making the unfastening process very difficult.
5. Next, jack the vehicle until the tire has cleared the ground by at least three inches. If you notice that it is jacking on an angle or leaning in any fashion, stop jacking and re-position it until it raises straight.
6. Remove the wheel nuts, ensuring that the internal thread on the nuts remains clean and dry.
7. Remove the flat tire and place it on the ground under the vehicle, as a safety precaution in case the jack fails. DO NOT place it back in the storage location while the vehicle is jacked. This could cause the vehicle to roll of the jack.
8. Fit the spare tire to the vehicle, lining up the wheel studs with care. Place the wheel nuts back on and hand tighten until approximately 90%.
9. Lower the vehicle back down until completely grounded. Now, tighten the wheel nuts completely, working in a star pattern where each nut is tightened in succession to that which is located opposite. This will ensure that all are fastened evenly.
10. Removed the jack and place back in storage, along with the spare tire. Place any tools used back in your vehicle.
Many punctures are repairable for a small amount, though this is not so for all damage. Most spare tires are only designed to get you to your mechanic or tire supplier, so do not drive further than you need to. Ensure that you travel at speeds lower that normal.