Can You Change a Flat Tire?

Nothing puts a damper on your day like a flat tire, especially if you don’t know how to change one. Flat tires happen all the time. Chances are you’ve already had a few if you’ve been driving for several years. Nails and screws are the most common source of flat tires. Over and underinflated tires also can go flat on you while driving. If you want to save time and feel empowered, changing a flat tire can do that for you!

As Omaha’s auto repair experts, we want our customers always to be safe and know a little about helping themselves in auto emergencies. Let’s take a look at the basics of changing a flat tire. Anyone can do it with the right tools and knowledge.

What You Need to Change a Flat Tire

These are the items that should already be in your vehicle. If they’re not, make sure you get them in there.

  • Jack
  • Lug wrench
  • Fully inflated spare tire
  • Vehicle owner’s manual

Other helpful items you should carry include:

  • Flashlight with charged batteries
  • Rain poncho
  • Small cut of 2”x6” wood to secure the jack
  • Gloves
  • Wheel wedges

Find a Safe Location

Safety is always number one when working with your vehicle. As soon as you realize you have a flat tire slowly reduce your speed and look for a straight and level stretch of road with a wide shoulder. Parking lots are great if you can find one. Level ground keeps your car from rolling. Never attempt to change your tire on a narrow should near oncoming traffic.

Turn Your Hazard Lights On

Your hazard lights or “flashers” let other drivers see you on the side of the road. Turn them on as soon as you realize you need to pull over. Keep them on while you change your tire. After you’ve found a safe spot and have pulled over, turn your vehicle off and apply your parking brake.

Loosen the Lug Nuts

Using your lug wrench, turn the lug nuts counterclockwise until they loosen. They may be on tight, so don’t hesitate to use your body weight to get them free. Don’t remove them all the way, just loosen them about ¼ to ½ turn.

Raise Your Vehicle with the Jack

The right place for the jack is usually beneath the vehicle frame alongside the tire that’s flat. Many vehicles have designated areas for jacks that are easy to spot. To prevent the jack from settling under the weight of your vehicle and coming off balance, place a small cut of 2″x6″ wood beneath it before attempting to raise your vehicle. With the jack in the proper position, raise your vehicle until the flat is about six inches above the ground.

Remove the Flat Tire

Unscrew the lug nuts all the way. Since they’re already loose, you should be able to remove them by hand. Gripping the tier by the treads, pull it gently toward you until it’s completely free from the hub behind it. Set it in a safe space on its side.

Put On Your Spare Tire

Line up the holes to the lug nut bolts and slide your spare tire onto the rim. Tighten the lug nuts as tight as you can by hand. Lower your vehicle to the ground using the jack. Now that your vehicle is on the ground, take your lug wrench and turn the lug nuts clockwise. Get them as tight as you can – use your body weight.

You Did It!

If you successfully followed these steps, you will have changed your own flat tire. Changing a flat tire should take 15-30 minutes, depending on your experience. Once you have your spare on should go to your local Omaha auto repair shop and get your original tire repaired and placed back onto your vehicle.

Until next time – Drive safe!

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