Flat tires are one of the most common issues you’ll come across when driving. They can be caused by road debris, wear and tear from age, or other vehicle issues (such as unbalanced alignment). That’s why we’ve created this post on changing a flat tire. Here are some useful tips and tricks to help you change your blowout as quickly and safely as possible.
First things first: be prepared. The pros on NPR’s Car Talk suggest testing out your jack and other equipment before you hit the road. Know where to locate everything in the event of an emergency. Second, learn how to use it properly. If you’re having difficulty, consider buying a new one that’s easy to use. Also, be sure to check your spare every once in a while, as air pressure dips over time.
Next, be sure you’re in a safe location. It can be dangerous to change a flat in the middle of traffic. Pull over to the shoulder if the road isn’t too busy; however, most highways require you to completely exit the road to change a tire safely. You can drive several hundred yards before you damage the rims too severely.
Finally, follow the basic rules. The first step is to loosen the lug nuts. Then, lift the car on the jack (always use the emergency/parking brake). Then, remove the tire and put on the spare. Tighten the lug nuts in a crossing pattern; in other words, tighten one lug nut, then go directly across the wheel to the next nut. Continue until the wheel is secure—be wary of over tightening, though.
With these tips in mind, it’s also important to know when to call for help. If you’re not up for a flat-tire change, call AAA, roadside assistance, or get run-flat tires.