The Easy Way to Change a Flat Tire


As a regular reader of the E3 Spark Plugs blog chances are that you know your way around a car. Still, there are plenty of people out there who don't know the first thing about the car they're driving, except how to coast it down the road. In a recent poll of college freshmen, 70% were found to not know how to change a flat tire. With such a startling figure, we thought it would be a good time to lay out some simple wisdom from the gear heads at E3.

Every car, truck, and SUV comes with a spare tire. This is located in the rear of the vehicle, either under a panel in the floor or beneath the vehicle. The spare will be secured with either a few bolts or a T-bar if suspended by a cable. Loosen the securing bolts to release the spare. Be sure your spare is full of air and very firm. The last thing you want to do is replace your flat tire with a flat spare.

Now that the tire is removed, you are ready to jack the vehicle up. This will take the weight off the spare tire and place it on the jack, allowing the flat to be changed. While there are different types of jacks, they are all fairly similar in design. Before jacking the car up, you'll want to loosen the lug nuts holding the flat to your vehicle. You do this now because once the weight is off it, the tire will spin freely and loosening the lug nuts will be nearly impossible. The wrench you use for this is typically the same one used to raise and lower your jack. When loosening or tightening lug nuts, always move in a star pattern around the nuts so pressure is distributed evenly. Lug nuts will loosen counter clockwise.

Once the nuts are loose, it is time to put the jack in place. Most cars come with a scissors jack, which contains a central screw that turns and moves the jack up and down. Place the jack under your vehicle at a good point on the frame. Your owner's manual will show you where to place it. Once in place and in contact with the frame, use the jack handle to complete the turns until the flat tire is off the ground. Now you can easily remove the lug nuts and the tire.

With the flat removed, replace it with the spare and repeat the entire process in reverse. You’re your jack is removed and the weight of your vehicle is on the spare, give all the nuts a final tightening to ensure the spare is secure. Store your flat tire in your trunk and drive to the nearest tire shop. Spare tires are typically not meant to be driven on for long periods of time, so you will want to replace it with a new tire as soon as possible.

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