How to Change a Tyre
Never had to change a tyre? Lucky you! But the more you drive, the bigger the chance you'll run into a flat one of these days, and it's better to be prepared than to be stuck on the side of the road. Even if you've changed a flat before, it might be a good idea to brush up on the basics.
What You'll Need
- A spare tyre (check to make sure yours is properly inflated)
- A lug wrench
- A jack
- Work gloves
- A tarp, sheet of plastic, or a few garbage bags
For nighttime flat tyres:
- An emergency reflector triangle or flares
- A flashlight
Chances are your car came with several of these items, but you'll want to make sure before a flat occurs.
Step One - Find a Safe AreaWhen changing a flat, it's important to be well out of the way of passing traffic, especially on busy or high-speed roads. If possible, pull the car off to the side on a stretch of road that is long and straight, rather than on a curve. Passing traffic will be able to avoid you better if they can see you as they approach. Also be sure to choose a spot that is level, rather than on an incline, to ensure safety when jacking up the car.
As soon as you find a good spot, put the car in park (or in gear for manual transmissions), set the emergency brake and turn on the hazard lights. If it's dark, you'll want to set out an emergency reflector triangle or flares to help caution other drivers. You should take the keys out of the ignition, but make sure not to lose them while changing the flat.
Step Two - Set Out Your ToolsIf you have a tarp or a sheet of plastic, spread it out on the ground near the tyre you'll be changing for a clean, dry work area. If you have a pair of gloves, put them on to help keep your hands clean and protected. Next you'll need to find the spare tyre, often located in the wheelwell in the bottom of the trunk of your car. Be aware, however, that the spare will often be a temporary tyre, referred to as a "baby" designed to get you safely to the nearest garage where it can be replaced with a sturdier tyre. Your owner's manual can tell you exactly where to find the spare. The jack should be found in the same area as the spare tyre. Bring these items over to your work area along with your gloves, flashlight (if necessary), and lug wrench (many jack handles also function as lug removers in case you don't have a lug wrench). Now you're ready to begin changing the tyre.
Step Three - Loosen the Lug NutsLoosening the lug nuts while the car is still on the ground is easier than after it's jacked up. If you have a plate or hubcap on your tyre, you'll need to remove it to get at the lug nuts. You can pry off the plate using the flat end of the jack handle or lug wrench. If you have a custom wheel cover or locking lug nuts, consult your owner's manual for instructions to remove them.
Once the lug nuts are exposed, place the fitted end of the lug wrench over one of the nuts and turn counter-clockwise to loosen it. Loosen the nut one or two turns, but be sure not to remove it entyrely. Repeat with all lug nuts.
If any of the nuts are extremely tight and you have trouble loosening them by hand, you can try to hold one end of the wrench with your hand and step on the other end with your foot. Make sure the wrench is steady and fitted over the nut before trying this method. You can also try using an object to hammer on the end of the wrench. Lastly, if you have any WD-40, you can apply some to the stubborn lug nut and let it stand for a few minutes before trying again.