As you're driving on the road, you notice a concerning thumping noise coming from beneath your car, which causes vibrations through the steering wheel. Upon investigation, you discover that you have a flat tire. This situation can be frustrating, but if you choose to handle it yourself, there are five safe and simple steps you can take to change the tire quickly. These steps are demonstrated in the video clips that follow.
Step 1 When experiencing a flat tire, it's important to find a secure location to park your vehicle, away from traffic as much as possible. To do this, shift your car into park or neutral if manual trans and activate the parking brake. It's essential that the car is positioned on level, stable ground. In case the ground is too soft, the jack may sink and fail to lift the car, and an uneven surface could cause the car to fall off the jack.
Step 2 Retrieve the spare tire, jack, and lug wrench from your car's trunk or cargo area (in the case of an SUV). Then, use the lug wrench to slightly loosen the lug nuts that secure the wheel in place, being careful not to remove them entirely. Afterward, identify the reinforced jacking points underneath the vehicle, usually located behind the front wheels or ahead of the rear wheels, by referring to your owner's manual.
Step 3 As a precautionary measure, it's recommended to place a block of wood or a brick under the tires on the opposite side of the car from the flat tire, to prevent the car from rolling when it's jacked up. While not strictly necessary, this can be a useful safety measure. Once this is done, position the jack beneath the jacking point closest to the flat tire and lift the car until the flat tire is off the ground.
Step 4 Take off the lug nuts and keep them in a safe location nearby, but far enough away to avoid accidentally knocking them over. Remove the flat tire and replace it with the spare tire, aligning the spare tire onto the threaded studs. Ensure that the valve stem of the wheel, where the air goes in, is facing outward towards you. Next, screw the lug nuts back on and tighten them by hand. Use the lug wrench to make the bolts slightly more secure, but not completely tight. Lower the jack until the tire almost touches the ground and use the lug wrench to make the bolts snug—but do not fully tighten them yet. This will be done in the final step, after the car is lowered completely and the jack is removed.
Step 5 Lower the car completely until it's safely on the ground and remove the jack. Finally, use the lug wrench to fully tighten the lug nuts. If there are five lug nuts, tighten them by skipping every other nut until all of them are tight. If there are four, tighten them in opposing pairs. Use enough force to tighten them, but don't use all your strength. Once they feel tight, they'll remain that way. Finally, return the jack, wrench, and flat tire to the trunk and you've completed the tire changing process.