Beginners Guide To Changing A Tire

Check Oil SymbolWhen you listen to auto mechanics, you might think that changing a car tire is a task reserved for pros. In reality, with the right tools in place, anyone can fix a flat tire. Surprisingly, nearly 1 in 5 licensed drivers don’t know how to change a tire. For those who know, the skill doesn’t come naturally as whipping into a parking lot. Whether you want to learn how to fix a flat tire from scratch or knock some rust off and sharpen your skills, here is a step-by-step guide to help you in the process.

Step 1: Pull Off to a Safe Spot

Car stuck on side of roadAt the sound of a flapping tire, pull off to a safe side immediately. Ensure that the spot is flat and visible across the road. Remember to maintain a reasonable distance from the road.

When speeding on a freeway, you can pull across a wide shoulder of the road or on the next exit making sure that you are not hidden on the banking curve.  On a crowded street, find a parking lot or any other joint away from traffic.

Avoid parking on grass or dirt, as your jack may sink and become unstable. Off country roads, where it’s difficult to find a hard surface, place a small plank of wood under the jack to keep it stable.

Step 2: Caution Other Drivers

Before changing a tire on the shoulder of a freeway or a busy road, make sure that you warn other drivers.

As soon as you bring the car to a stop, turn off the engine, engage the emergency/parking brake and turn on hazard lights.

Step out the car and place an emergency triangle approximately 20 meters from you to alert oncoming traffic that your vehicle is stationary.

Step 3: Prevent Your Vehicle from Rolling

First, ensure all the wheels are pointing straight. Then use wheel wedges or a heavy brick to prevent your vehicle from rolling.

When changing the front tire, set the wedges behind the rear tires. If changing the rear tire, set the wedges before the front tires.

Step 4: Grab the Essential Tools

If this is your first time, consult the owner’s manual to know where to find the spare tire. Follow the specific instructions in the manual as your vehicle might have a unique set of requirements.

Changing a tireTypically, the tools you need to fix a flat include:

  • Spare tire
  • Wheel wedges
  • Jack
  • Lug wrench
  • Screwdriver

Step 5: Remove the Hubcap

If your vehicle’s lug nuts are exposed, move to step 6.

For most vehicles, you can easily pry off the hubcap using a screwdriver or the sharp end of the lug wrench. Set the hubcap upside-down on the ground as a lug nut tray.

Step 6: Loosen the Lug Nuts

Use the lug wrench to loosen the lug nuts. Some of them are tightly fixed, so throw in your weight or use your foot to offset the resistance. Loosen the nuts to about a ½ a turn but do not remove them completely.

Step 7: Jack Up the Vehicle

Man Using a Jack to lift carConfirm from the manual the jack point on your vehicle. It should be just in front of the rear tires, or just behind the front tires.

Once you have secured the jack in the right place, crank it up until the tire is about six inches off the ground. This should give you enough room to change the tires.

Step 8: Remove the Flat Tire

Changing a tire

Remove the lug nuts and use the hubcap to secure the nuts.  Pull out the tire gently until it comes off free.

Step 9: Install the Spare Tire

Position the spare carefully, ensuring the holes on the rim line up with the wheel studs. Ease the tire gently until the lug bolts are visible through the rim. Then hand-tighten the lug bolts clockwise until they are firm.

Step 10: Lower Your Car

Partially lower the car slowly using the jack. Ensure that the spare tire barely touches the ground so that the full weight of the vehicle isn’t on the tire. Then tighten the lug nuts using the lug wrench

You can replace the hubcap if it fits onto the new tire; otherwise, store it with the rest of the tools until you repair the old tire. Spare tires are temporary. Don’t drive at high speeds or for long distances with them.


National Motor Club LogoSometimes, you can get stuck on the roadside without proper tools to fix the flat tire. If you are having a flat or a breakdown, our Emergency Roadside Assistance team is a call away. Also, if you run out of gas, need a jump or experience any problem with your car, don’t hesitate to call us for assistance.


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