Every motorist should know how to change a tire. It is one of the most important skills to know when owning a vehicle.
This is because a flat tire can happen to anybody at any time. If you are unable to get to the shop to fix it, you will need to know how to change a tire.
Not knowing can leave you stranded potentially in the middle of nowhere and miles from anyone who can help. That’s why in this guide we have broken down everything you need to know about how to change a tire.
How To Change A Tire
Before reading on, make sure you have available the list of equipment below as you will need these to change a tire.
- Warning Triangle (if by the roadside)
- Wheel Wedges
- Lug wrench/ Tire Iron
- Locking wheel nut key (If applicable)
- Vehicle Jack
- Jack Stands
- Spare wheel
Keep reading to find out the step by step of how to change a tire.
#1 – Find a safe location away from traffic
The first step in how to change a tire is to make sure that you find a safe location to change your wheel.
You want to be in a location away from traffic, such as a driveway at home or in a quiet parking lot would be the best choice. It is also important to make sure that you park on a flat surface as a large incline will be less safe for jacking your car into the air.
If this is not possible, I recommend finding a quiet, wide and straight patch of road. Straight roads will be better than bending roads as it will be easier for other road users to spot you from further away and be therefore safer.
If you find yourself needing to change your wheel at night, under a street light would also be ideal. Avoid driving on a flat tire if possible as this will cause additional damage to the tire and possibly your wheel rim.
#2 – Apply parking brake, put car in park and turn off vehicle
Once you have found your safe location, apply the parking brake, put the gearbox into park and make sure that the vehicle is turned off. For stick vehicles, put the car in neutral.
Pro Tip – If you have parked your stick shift car on an incline, putting it into first gear while parked will help stop the car rolling.
#3 – Set up your warning triangle and wheel wedges
If you have had to park on a road with oncoming traffic, now set up your warning triangle a safe distance away to alert other vehicles of your presence.
Do not attempt to change a tire unless you are in a safe location.
Now take your wheel wedges and wedge them behind the wheels that you will not be changing. This will ensure the car does not roll when we jack it up.
Pro Tip – Parking brakes on cars only lock up the rear wheels of the vehicle. If changing a rear wheel on an incline, it is especially important to use your wheel wedges (or another large solid object) in front of your front wheels.
Failing to do so when changing the rear wheel of a car on an incline can lead to it dangerously rolling forward and falling off the jack.
#4 – Break the lug nuts loose
If your vehicle has a plastic wheel cover, remove this first to gain access to the lug nuts before you begin this step.
While your wheel is still on the ground, take your lug wrench or tire iron and break the lug nuts loose by turning in a counter-clockwise direction. It will likely be very stiff and may need you to use your body weight by standing on it with your foot. Do not fully remove the lug nuts yet.
Your vehicle may also require your locking wheel nut key to remove the locking wheel lug nut.
#5 – Jacking up the vehicle
With your lug nuts now loose, we can jack the car into the air. Take your car jack and place it underneath your vehicle at the specified jack mounting point. The location can be found in your vehicle hand book.
Jack the car up until the tire is 2 inches off the ground and place your jack stands underneath the car at the mounting points for extra protection.
#6 – Removing the wheel
Now that the wheel is off the ground, take your lug wrench or tire iron and fully unscrew the lug nuts. Then you can take the tire off by lifting and pulling the tire off the hub.
If the wheel hasn’t been off in a long time, it may be corroded onto the hub and not want to come off. If so, give the wheel a firm kick on one side on the tire and it should pop off.
#7 – Putting on the new tire
If it is a space saver, do not exceed the maximum speed of the tire when driving and have the full size tire repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
Also make sure to check the condition of your spare tire, and that it is holding air. Check this by using a tire pressure gauge.
Now go ahead and put the spare tire on your vehicle by lining up the holes with the pegs on the hub and lifting the wheel on.
Whilst the wheel is off, you have a good chance to check the condition of your vehicle’s brakes. Have a look at the thickness of the brake disks and pads. If they are wearing thin, it is time to have them replaced.
#8 – Screw on the lug nuts
Now that the wheel is on the vehicle, tighten the wheel with the lug nuts by hand. Whilst doing this, make sure that you tighten them in a star pattern.
This will ensure an even pressure across all the bolts and that the wheel is flush and secure to the hub. You can now jack the vehicle up slightly in order to remove the jack stands from underneath the car.
#9 – Lower the vehicle until it touches the ground and fully tighten the lug nuts
Make sure you have removed your jack stands and slowly lower your vehicle until the tire is in contact with the ground. Before we fully lower the vehicle, we want to tighten up the lug nuts. Take your lug wrench or tire iron and tighten them all the way.
Make sure you continue to tighten them in the star pattern like before. Once this is complete, you can go ahead and fully lower the vehicle to the ground.
#10 – Remove all wheel wedges and stow away equipment
The last step is to make sure to collect or clear away your wheel wedges. Make sure to pack your equipment and load it back into your vehicle so that they are where they should be for next time. You can then take your flat tire to the shop to have it repaired or replaced and put back on your vehicle.
Most flat tires are caused by a nail and can be repaired for cheap if the damage is in the centre of the tire. However if the damage is too close to the sidewall or in the sidewall, this cannot be repaired and you will need to buy a new tire.
What to do next
When learning how to change a tire, it is important to not skip any steps. If you need a new tire after changing your old one, check out our guide on the best tire for your vehicle. We recommend when replacing a tire that you replace it with the same model of tire as on the other side of your vehicle.
This will ensure that your vehicle performs predictably and that you are safe when driving.
We hope you enjoyed this article and found it informative. If you have any questions then please leave a comment below or get in touch via email or through social media and we will read and respond to every comment, email or question. Thanks for reading!