Imagine setting out on your long-awaited getaway. You’ve been stuck almost exclusively at home for the past several months, and you finally decided to pack up your mask, sanitizer, safety protocols, and hit the road. This trip has been a beacon of light for you.
You are on the road with the sea salt in the air and the wind in your hair…until you feel that dreaded thump on your tires and start to lose speed. Yep, you’ve blown a tire. And unfortunately, Cassels Garage, Melbourne’s home for the best auto repair and maintenance, isn’t close by to assist you.
You need to change the tire yourself.
Here at Cassels Garage, we know this can seem like a daunting task. A survey from AAA found that 39 million Americans have no idea how to change a flat tire. Added to this statistic is that almost half of all Americans are not prepared for an unexpected flat and do not have an emergency breakdown kit. However, with a little elbow grease and the right equipment (don’t worry, we will tell you what you need to have in your vehicle BEFORE you hit the road), you don’t have to be on the side of the road for long and won’t be a data point for AAA! You will be on the go enjoying your vacation.
What Tools You Need to Change a Tire
Here’s what you need before you hit the road. And we suggest you keep these items in your car at all times.
- Spare tire – Your vehicle’s spare tire must remain fully inflated. To ensure that your spare will be usable when and if you ever need it, regularly check the pressure and add air if necessary. It isn’t a thing you think about often, so set a reminder on your calendar to remind you. It may help to think of this as a part of your monthly car maintenance routine.
- Owner’s Manual
- Lug wrench
- Wheel wedges – You can get away with changing your tire without these, but they are an added safety measure that we highly suggest.
How to Change a Flat Tire
Let’s get started.
- Safely pull over to the side of the road on the flattest area you can find and engage your hazard lights.
- Put your vehicle in park and engage the parking brake.
- Remove the hubcaps of your tires, if you have any. If you don’t know how to do this, check the owner’s manual.
- If you have wedges, place them accordingly.
- Use the lug wrench to loosen the lug nuts, but do not remove them.
- Once the lug nuts are loose, take the jack and place it near the flat tire. Your owner’s manual will tell you the safest place to locate the jack. And remember, NEVER get underneath the car. Safety first, safety always!
- Raise the jack until the vehicle is about 6 inches off of the ground.
- Next up, grab the lug wrench and continue to loosen the lug nuts. You may be able to complete this step by hand. Remove the lug nuts and place them in a safe location. You will need them to install the spare.
- Gently remove the flat tire by pulling it towards you.
- Add the spare tire.
- Once the spare is in place, begin to tighten the lug nuts. Do not fully tighten the lug nuts during this step.
- Your jack has been holding up your vehicle until this point. It is now time to lower it to the ground. Once finished, grab your lug wrench and fully tighten the lug nuts. Give it all of your strength here!
- Once the tire is in place, check the tire pressure.
And you are done! We hope you never find yourself stranded on the side of the road due to a flat tire, but if you are, now you know what to do.