There are many situations when you might want to be able to change your own tires. You may be driving down the road and get a flat tire and need to be able to change it on the side of the road by yourself. Or you might just want to save some money by avoiding taking it to a professional and changing your own tires at home.
But if you’ve never changed a tire on your own, it can seem pretty daunting. And especially if you don’t have a lot of car experience, you might not even know where to start. But knowing how to change our own tires is a great skill to have. And once you learn how to do it, changing your tires can be easy and hassle free.
In order to be able to change your tires, you’ll need certain equipment. Some items you may already have on hand and some you may need to buy. The basic equipment you’ll need is:
Some of these items should have come with your vehicle when you bought it. If for some reason they didn’t come with your car or you’ve lost them, make sure you replace them as soon as possible. For other items, such as the flashlight and rain jacket, you’ll want to purchase them on you own and keep them in your trunk or glove box. These additional items will make it easier to change your tires in any circumstance. Keep them organized and in one location so that when you go to replace your car tires, you know exactly where to get the equipment.
It’s important to have the right equipment in your car at all times. It’s no good if you know how to change a tire but don’t have the necessary equipment on you when you need it. That’s why you need to keep these items in your car instead of just having them at your house. They don’t take up too much space and can really help you out in a pinch.
It’s also crucial that you make sure your spare tire is always fully inflated. If you’ve had it in your car for a while and haven’t checked it, go ahead and do that as soon as possible. It’s a good idea to check your spare tire’s air pressure every time you check your regular tires’ air pressure, which should be about once a month.
Below are the steps to follow to change your tires by yourself. If you get a flat tire while driving, make sure you find a safe place to slowly stop and pull over. If you already know you have a flat tire, it’s best to change it at home so you don’t have to worry about traffic or other cars driving by while changing it. Also, if you need to pull off the road to change a flat tire, always be sure to put your hazard lights on to warn other cars. This will help keep you and other drivers on the road safe.
Before changing your tires, always make sure you put the parking brake on to avoid the car from potentially rolling away. It’s also a good idea to make sure your car is parked on a flat surface, if possible. This will also keep the car from rolling while trying to replace the tire.
The wheel wedges also help to prevent your vehicle from rolling away. If the tire you’re changing is a rear tire, place the wedges in front of the front tires. If it’s one of the front tires that you’re changing, place the wedges behind the back tires. If for some reason you don’t have wheel wedges with you, you can also use large bricks or rocks. Just make sure they are big enough to prevent the tires from moving.
Most vehicles have a hub cap over their wheel. You’ll need to remove the hub cap because it’s covering the lug nuts. It’s easier to do this before lifting the vehicle with the jack, so make sure you do this first. Also, if your car wheel doesn’t have a hub cap, you can skip this step. To remove the hub cap, use the flat end of your lug wrench and pry the edges until you can pull it off.
Now that the hub cap is removed you can loosen the lug nuts with the lug wrench. This is also easier to do before raising the car. Turn them counterclockwise until they start to loosen. This may be difficult, so you may need to use a lot of force. Make sure to loosen them about a quarter to a half of a turn but don’t take them all the way off yet.
Now it’s time to lift your car up so that it’s not putting weight on the tire. You’ll want to place the jack underneath the vehicle frame next to the tire that you’re replacing. To avoid misplacing or damaging your car, the owner’s manual will tell you exactly where it is safe to place the jack for your specific car. Consult that before placing the jack so you know where to put it. If placed improperly, you won’t raise the car and you’ll just damage the frame.
Place a small 2”x6” cut of wood underneath the jack to prevent it from becoming unstable or shifting while you lift the car. Then you can raise the vehicle with the jack until the tire is about six inches above the ground.
Now that the car is raised, you can completely remove the lug nuts. Unscrew them all the way. You can probably do this by hand since they’ve already been loosened.
With the lug nuts removed, you’ll be able to take the tire off from the vehicle. Grip the tire treads and gently pull the tire towards you until it becomes detached. Then place it flat on the ground out of the way so it doesn’t roll away on you.
Now you can place the spare tire on the hub. Line up the rim of the tire with the lug bolts on the wheel and then push until you can see the lug nuts poking through the rim.
Once the new tire is on the wheel, screw on the lug nuts that you removed earlier. Just use your hands for now and then you can tighten them with the wrench later on. Make sure they are all as tight as you can get them.
Using the jack, lower the vehicle down to the ground but not all the way. The new tire should be resting on the ground but shouldn’t have the full weight of the car on it yet. Once it’s on the ground, tighten the lug nuts with the wrench. Make sure they are all really tight; this may require you to use a lot of force.
Finish lowering the jack all the way until the new tire is supporting the weight of the car. Remove the jack and give the lug nuts one more twist to make sure all they are as tight as possible.
If your hub cap will fit the new tire, you can put it back on using the wrench. If it’s a smaller, temporary tire it may not fit. If it doesn’t, store it in the trunk until you get a new hub cap or a different tire.
Once you’re done, remove the wedges from the wheels and store all your equipment in its correct place. Keeping all your equipment stored in the same place and organized will make it easier and more efficient the next time you need to change a tire.
Check to make sure that the tire you put on your car has enough pressure. Your car’s owner manual will instruct you as to how much PSI of pressure it should have. Theoretically, if you check it regularly it should already have full pressure and be ready to go.
Now you can safely drive your car again. If your spare tire is a temporary one, drive slowly and carefully, because they aren’t made designed to go for long distances or at high speeds. Remember, you aren’t a racecar driver participating in a high-speed endurance car racing, so don’t drive like one. If it is temporary, get a new tire to replace it as soon as possible. If you are replacing any other tires at this time, repeat the process for each tire.
It’s important to keep in mind when changing your tires by yourself, you want to make sure that you get the lug nuts on tight enough so that they don’t come off. It could be a very dangerous situation if you’re driving your car and the tires aren’t on tight enough. You may have to use a lot of pressure and force to be able to tighten the lug nuts yourself. If for any reason you think that you might not have gotten the tires on tight enough, have a professional double check them.
If you’re driving your car when you realize you have a flat tire it’s crucial that you don’t continue to drive it for a long period of time. A lot of people make the mistake of ignoring a flat tire or overlooking it because it doesn’t seem like a big deal. Taking the time to check your tires regularly and make sure that they have enough air will help you avoid having to change your tire by yourself at all. But even if you do that there’s always a risk of getting a flat tire randomly while driving, due to sharp objects or potholes. Luckily though, after reading this article changing your tire won’t feel like such an overwhelming task.
After you change a tire and use your spare tire to replace it, don’t forget to put the spare tire back in your car when you’re done with it. Or be sure to buy a new spare tire if you need to. You don’t want to replace a tire and then forget to get a new spare and be out of luck the next time you need it.
Once you know how to change your tires yourself and you have all the proper equipment, it shouldn’t take you more than 10-15 minutes to change. The process is not overly complicated, and anyone can do it as long as they follow the steps and use the right equipment.