A flat tire is one of the most common roadside emergencies. You might be a member of AAA or subscribe to OnStar, in which case you can rely on roadside assistance to get you out of a tight spot. Even with these services at your disposal, it’s still wise to know how to change a flat tire. After all, you never know when or where this emergency might strike.
Start by creating a roadside emergency kit. First, make sure your car is equipped with a simple jack, lug wrench and spare tire. Replace anything that’s missing and have the spare tire fixed if it has gone flat. Then finish stocking your emergency kit with these items:
- Mat to kneel on
- Rain poncho
- Tire gauge
- Tire blocks
- Fix-a-Flat spray foam (we’ll get to this later)
Take Precautionary Measures
If you’re heading out on a road trip, bring your car to Scott’s Fort Collins Auto & Repair first. We can make sure your fluid levels are good and conduct a tire checkup to set you up for success. If your tires are wearing out, this could be a good time to replace them and help prevent a blow-out in the middle of nowhere.
How to Change a Flat Tire
You can fix the flat and be on your way in just eight steps:
- Pull over: If you’re on the freeway, take the next exit. If you can’t make it that far, pull as far onto the shoulder as possible. Make sure you park your car on a flat spot and engage the emergency brake. Turn on your hazard lights to increase your visibility.
- Loosen the lug nuts: Don’t remove them completely just yet; simply loosen them with the wrench. (You may need to remove the hub caps first.) If the lug nuts are really stuck, place the wrench on a nut and carefully stand on the wrench to put your full weight into loosening it.
- Jack up the car: Different vehicle models have different ideal places to stick the car jack. Check the owner’s manual for specifics. Once securely in place, jack up the car until the tire is about 6 inches off the ground.
- Remove the tire: Now completely remove the lug nuts and pull the tire off the wheel base. Put the lug nuts in a safe spot where they won’t roll away.
- Secure the spare tire: Push the spare all the way onto the wheel base. Loosely screw on the lug nuts.
- Bring the car back down: Use the jack to lower the car back to the ground.
- Tighten the lug nuts: Choose a nut and tighten it about halfway. Move to the opposite nut and tighten that one halfway as well. Continue in this fashion, gradually turning every nut until they’re as tight as possible.
- Pack up: Put the flat tire and all your tools in the trunk. Be careful not to leave anything behind. Drive to the nearest auto repair shop to have the flat tire repaired.
Use Fix-a-Flat Spray Foam for Quick Fixes
If your flat tire is caused by a nail or other sharp object, as opposed to a pressure-related blow-out, you may have the option of using Fix-a-Flat, an aerosol tire sealer that temporarily fixes the hole and re-inflates the tire with pressurized air containing special sealant. This solution is designed to merely get you to the nearest auto shop, but it’s a lot less painstaking than replacing a tire on the side of the road.
If you’re heading out on a road trip soon, first be sure to stop by Scott’s Fort Collins Auto & Repair for a tune up. We want to help you avoid an emergency so you never find yourself stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire! Please schedule an appointment online, call (970) 682-4202 or just stop by at your soonest convenience.