Knowing how to change a tire is considered by many to be one of those “essential life skills;” like tying a knot, doing your own laundry, or starting a campfire. Here at Go Auto Don Mills Chrysler, we don’t disagree! The fact is, if you get a flat on the side of the highway, being able to pull over and change the tire yourself will save you hassle, and get you back on your way quicker than having to wait for the tow-truck.
Now, we know some of you are saying “but, Don Mills, if I already knew how to change a tire, I wouldn’t have followed this link.” Fair point. So, for those of you whose parents didn’t teach you to change a tire, we’ve got your back. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help walk you through the process, so next time you won’t have to call Mopar Roadside Assistance for help.
Tools for the Job
First things first—before you even have to worry about changing a tire, you need to make sure you’ve got the tools on hand to do it! The good news is, most vehicles actually come with the essentials. Those would be a lug wrench, a jack, your owners manual, and, of course, a spare tire. But there are a few items your vehicle doesn’t come with you might want to always keep on hand, just in case. A working flashlight is handy for those occasions when you need to work in the dark. Some wheel wedges wouldn’t be a bad idea, to help keep your car secure while you’re working. You might also want a set of gloves to protect your hands and keep them clean. This is also one of those reasons why having some traffic cones, road flares or reflective triangles is handy, to give your vehicle more visibility if it’s parked off on the shoulder of a major highway.
Get off the Road
Some vehicles have indicators that a tire has lost pressure. For others, you might just have to trust that something feels “wrong” about your drive. Maybe a passing driver signals to you that there’s a problem. Whatever it is that lets you know you’ve got a flat, the first thing you need to do is stop driving. Driving on a flat can do further damage to the tire, or even to your rim. That said, don’t stop just anywhere! You’ll want to slowly ease on the brakes (especially if you’re going at highway speeds!) and find either a parking lot, or a long stretch of road where you can pull onto the shoulder. Avoid stopping near a curve, so oncoming traffic has plenty of time to see you’ve pulled over.
Secure your Vehicle
Once you’ve stopped in a safe spot, park your car and turn on your hazard lights. Apply the emergency brake too—you don’t want your vehicle to move while you’re working on it. This is also what those wheel wedges are for. While you’re prepping, if you had to stop on the side of a road, now’s also the time to put out those triangles or cones, so passing drivers know to slow down. Finally, remove the tools, and your spare tire, from where they’re stored.
Hey, quick note, never put any part of your body underneath your vehicle! Yeah, we put this note in its own section because it’s that important.
Change your Tire
Now that your vehicle is secure, you’re ready to get to work! To start, use your wrench to loosen the lug nuts on your hubcap or wheel cover. Next up, position your jack under the vehicle (you may want to check the manual to know the exact spot to put it), and expand the jack until you’ve raised the tire about 6 inches from the ground.
Now, unscrew and remove the lug nuts—don’t lose them, you’ll need them again soon! You should now be able to remove the flat from the wheel hub, and then align the spare tire with the exposed bolts. Once it’s in place, replace the lug nuts and tighten them by hand—don’t use the wrench again yet! First, lower the jack carefully until the spare has touched the ground and remove the jack. Now you can tighten the lug nuts with the wrench! Make sure they’re good and tight, too. You want that spare to be secure before you set back out on the road. You can also replace the hubcap or wheel cover if necessary… and it might not hurt to double check the tire pressure in your spare, too, just to be safe.
And hey, don’t be afraid to call for assistance! There’s no shame in calling for professional help if you’re feeling overwhelmed or you don’t feel safe working by the side of the road.
Get to a Service Station
Most spare tires are for emergency use only, and not meant for driving long distances or at high speeds. That means you want your tire repaired or replaced ASAP. Now that your vehicle is drivable again, you should drive it to a service station just as soon as you can!