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How to Change a Flat Tire

Hopefully, you are not on the side of the road trying to figure out how to change a flat tire right now. If you are, check your owner’s manual in the glove compartment. It will give valuable information about how to safety change your flat tire in the least amount of time. If this option is not available, keep reading.

First, try to get your vehicle to a level surface. Next, chock at least one wheel to make sure that your vehicle doesn’t roll. Locate your spare tire and jack and the adapter for any locking lug nuts. Typically, each wheel will have one locking nut to deter theft.  If you don’t know where your spare tire is (and some newer vehicles don’t have spare tires,) check the following places. If you are driving a car, open the truck and check beneath the trunk matt. There may be a plastic wing nut that stops the spare tire from rattling.  If you’re driving an SUV, check under the cargo area matt first. Then, check the compartment on either the left or right side of the of the cargo area. Here, you will likely find your tire iron, jack, and locking nut adapter.  You may also find the spare in one of these areas.   Finally, if you are driving a truck or SUV, the spare is most likely on a hoist system beneath the truck, but the jack and other equipment are most likely under the rear seat. (If there is no rear seat, look in the area behind the front seat.)

Hopefully, you have found your spare, and you’re ready to move on. If possible, before you remove your spare from its storage space, try to determine if it is holding air. You can either give the Schrader valve on the spare tire stem a quick poke or press on the tire. If your spare is deflated, there is no sense in continuing. Likewise, if your vehicle is equipped with locking lug nuts and you can’t find the key, there is no point in continuing. Once you find the key to the locking nut, insert it into the tire iron and make sure that it fits the locking nut on your spare tire. If it does, you’re in business.

If you are driving a light truck or SUV, you will most likely find the spare underneath your vehicle. If you’re vehicle is equipped with a spare tire hoist, and most are, you will need to unfold the long jack handle, insert the flat end through the hole in or below your rear bumper until you can feel that it is catching, and then rotate the handle counter clockwise until the spare tire fully lowers. You will see that the wire on the hoist system has a flat piece of metal on the end that secures the tire when it is stored. Push this metal piece through the center hole in the spare tire to free it. (In some cases you may have to jack the vehicle up to access the spare. If this is the case, use extreme caution.)

Now, you are ready to raise your vehicle. The absolute most important step in this process is to determine the correct lift point on the vehicle. Vehicles have four lift points, one for each tire. They are located to the aft of the front tires and to the front of the rear tires. If you’re still reading this, we have determined that you do not have an owner’s manual to instruct you as to the location of the lift points. There may be instructions with your jack directing you to the proper lift points. If this information is not available feel under the side of the vehicle that you intend to lift, and find the point that fits your jack.

If on any sort of incline, chuck one of the tires that will not be raised to make certain that the vehicle does not fall off of the jack. Logs, large racks, or anything else heavy may work. If you’re not certain that the vehicle will not roll, stop.

Next, slightly loosen the locking nut and then each other nut on the wheel with the flat. About ¼ turn should do it. The goal is to make sure that you can turn each nut before you raise the vehicle. Once you have determined that you will be able to remove the lug nuts, jack the vehicle up slightly, making sure that there is still enough weight on the tire to stop it from turning when you remove the lug nuts.  Remove the lug nuts and keep them together in a safe place. If your car is equipped with hub caps, put the nuts in the hubcap that you have removed.

Once you have removed the lug nuts, jack the vehicle up until the flat tire is off of the ground and remove the tire flat tire. Position the spare tire so that you can install the spare. Install the spare and hand tighten each lug nut. Next lower the vehicle until the new tire make contact with the ground, and tighten the lug nuts. If your new tire spins during this process, lower your tire to put enough weight on it to stop it from spinning.

When tightening lug nuts, do so in a star pattern. Tighten one nut, then the one opposite from it. Continue until all lug nuts are tight. Then, double check them all.

Next, remove and stow the jack, remove any objects that you have used, and be on your way.

We hope that this article helps. If you have any questions, please call Sant Automotive at 314-849-2900.