Every second, approximately seven people experience a tire puncture. No matter how safe you drive or hard you try to avoid them while driving, they are unfortunately unavoidable.
While suffering a flat tire while out on the road can be scary and stressful, the good news is flat tires are easy to fix provided you have all the necessary equipment. Below are all the necessary items and steps you will need to fix your flat tire in no time and be back on the road.
Things You Will Need
The following items are necessary if you want to fix the flat tire yourself. If you do not have any of the items below, do not attempt to fix the flat tire yourself. Attempting to fix it yourself without any of the following tools can cause damage to your car and to yourself. Look for the items below in the trunk of your car.
• Spare Tire
• Wrench or Tire Iron
• Vehicle Jack
Thing You Might Want to Have
While the following seven items are not completely necessary to change a flat tire, it is a wise idea that you always have them in your vehicle. Flat tires can strike at any time, any place, and in any type of weather condition.
• Car’s Owner’s Manual (Some vehicles have different or added steps in the tire changing process)
• Flashlight with Working Batteries (In the event your puncture happens at night)
• Wheel Wedges (Prevents car from rolling forwards or backward on a hill or slippery surface)
• Road Flares (To alert other drivers in the dark that you are on the side of the road working)
• Jacket or Rain Poncho (In case it is cold, raining, or snowing)
Make Sure Everything is Safe
If you experience a puncture or flat while driving, your natural instinct may be to hit the brakes hard or make a hard turn towards the side of the road.
If you can help it, do not do that. Slow your vehicle down and try to keep your car going as straight as possible. When it is safe to do so, try to pull your vehicle over onto a wide, straight, and leveled shoulder or a nearby parking lot.
Turn on Your Car’s Hazard Lights
As soon as you pull over somewhere safely, turn on your vehicle’s hazard/emergency blinkers. Turning them on will make your car more visible. This will help passing motorists avoid another hitting you or your disabled vehicle.
Apply the Parking Brake
When your car has come to a complete stop, always apply your car’s emergency or parking brake. This will help prevent your car from rolling away from you when you are trying to fix it.
Read Your Car’s Owner’s Manual
Some vehicles wheels are different from others and may require special steps or equipment like locking lug nuts for example.
The owner’s manual usually kept in your glovebox will detail any added step If you do not have the owner’s manual, try to find a copy of your car’s manual online with your cell phone.
Remove Any Wheel Covers
Some cars have hub caps or wheel covers covering the lug nuts. If you do have one on your wheel, use a hard, flat object to gently, pry the covers off to expose the lug nuts underneath.
Loosen the Wheel’s Lug Nuts
With your tire iron, slowly start to loosen the wheel’s lug nuts. Do not completely remove them. Turn the lug nuts approximately ¼ or ½ of an inch counterclockwise. If the lug nuts are not moving, use your all your body weight to get them to budge.
Lift the Car Slightly With a Jack
Most cars have a flat, exposed metal jacking point underneath the car. Line up the jack underneath the jacking point and lift the vehicle high enough so the wheel is completely off the ground.
Unscrew the Wheel’s Lug Nuts
Once the car is lifted, remove all the nuts and keep them somewhere safe.
Remove and Replace the Flat Tire
With the lug nuts off, carefully remove the broken wheel and replace it with your spare. Keep the flat tire in your trunk.
Replace the Lug Nuts
With the new wheel on, screw the lug nuts on as tight as you can by hand.
Slightly Lower the Car with the Jack
With the lug nuts screwed on the new wheel, lower the jack so the wheel is slightly touching the ground.
Fully Tighten the Lug Nuts and Lower the Car
After you lower the car slightly, fully tighten the lug nuts using the wrench. Once they are completely tight, lower the jack all the way.
Put Away All Tools and Equipment
Stow all your tools in the trunk of your car so you have in for any future tire changes.
Check the Tire Pressure
Spare tires can lose air slowly over time. Before you drive away, check the air pressure in the new tire. Your owner’s manual should tell you the necessary air pressure. Driving on underinflated tires can lead to more tire blowouts.
Leave the Scene Carefully
Once you have replaced the flat tire, make sure you pull back into traffic safely.
Most spare tires have limits on how fast and far they can go. Never drive faster than 50 miles per hour or longer than half an hour. Doing so can cause your spare to deteriorate.
Visit a Tire Professional
As soon as you can, drive your car to a mechanic or tire center to have your flat tire replaced and any possible wheel rim damage repaired. While you are there, have them check your other tires as well. Your other tires may be improperly inflated or have missing tread.
Watch a Video on How It’s Done:
There is no way to predict when you might encounter a punctured or flat tire. If you do, following the above steps will get you back on the road as soon as possible. The entire process should take roughly half an hour. If you are missing any equipment or are not physically able to change the tire, call a family member, friend, tow truck, or roadside assistance for help.