- Getting a flat tire is an inevitable part of being a driver, but with the right know-how and tools, it’s a slight inconvenience at worst.
- As a car enthusiast, I’ve swapped my wheels countless times. Below, I’ll walk you through changing a tire, my recommendations for tools, and a few other tips for maintaining your tires.
There comes a time when every driver ends up with a flat tire — it’s an inevitable occurrence that you should always be prepared for when you’re on the road. Although it is without a doubt an inconvenience, it shouldn’t be completely debilitating or expensive to fix.
Every car should come with a tire iron, jack, and spare tire, so all it takes is knowing how to change a flat tire to save you from the aggravation of sitting on the side of the road waiting for help to arrive or paying for an otherwise unnecessary tow.
From unlucky roadside flats to swapping new sets of wheels on my car, I’ve done my fair share tire changes over the years. I’ll walk you through exactly how to complete the job, plus my recommendations for tools if you’re looking for replacements or upgrades, and a few tips on maintaining safe tires.
Here are the basic essentials for changing a tire:
- A portable jack: Pro-Lift Scissor Jack, $27.60
- A tire iron: Gorilla Telescoping Power Wrench, $15.99
- A spare tire: Shop tires on Amazon and Pep Boys
- A pair of work gloves: DEX FIT Work Gloves, $11.99
Here are other helpful items for maintaining safe tires:
- A tire pressure gauge: Rhino USA Tire Pressure Gauge, $19.97
- An air compressor: EPAuto 12-volt Portable Air Compressor Pump, $34.87
Keep scrolling to learn how to change a tire.
1. Find a safe spot
The last place you want to be with a flat tire is stopped in the middle of traffic, so do your best to get the car in a safe place. If you’re in on a busy city street, try to make your way to a side street. If you’re on the highway, be sure to pull over to the right shoulder.
2. Locate your spare tire
Every vehicle is different, but finding your spare tire shouldn’t be too hard. Most cars have a spare tire well underneath the carpet of the trunk. You will also find that some vehicles mount the spare tire directly under the body in the rear or visibly on the rear hatch (for trucks and SUVs).
You don’t want to make the mistake of using a spare tire, throwing the flat one in its place, and forgetting to replace it — because when the time comes to change a flat again, you’ll be stranded and out of luck. Be proactive by double-checking that your spare has good tread and holds air before you hit the road.
3. Loosen your lug nuts
Next, you’ll want to loosen your lug nuts. It’s important to do this before jacking up the car because once the tire is off the ground, the cranking motion will spin the wheel rather than loosen the lug nuts. If you do that, you’ll more than likely have to lower the car back down to the ground to loosen them — so do it right the first time.
Loosening the lug nuts can be the hardest and most labor-intensive part of the job, especially if an air-tool-happy mechanic last installed your wheels. Instead of breaking your back trying to loosen them with the basic wrench that comes with every car, I strongly recommend upgrading to the Gorilla Automotive Wrench. It has a handle that expands to 21 inches to give you the leverage and torque needed to loosen lug nuts (and other bolts) with ease. Remember "righty tighty, lefty loosey" and you won’t have any issues with removing or installing the lug nuts.
Although gloves aren’t absolutely necessary to complete the job, it’s a good idea to keep a pair of work gloves in your car if you don’t want to get your hands dirty. I like the DEX FIT work gloves because they’re protective and comfortable. You’ll still have all the dexterity needed to change a flat.
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