How to Change a Tire
There aren’t many annoyances that quite compare to a flat tire. They can even become dangerous if they occur during cold winter conditions. But then again, there are few feelings as confidence-inspiring and satisfying as being able to change a tire. So if you want to learn a new skill and rely a little less on your CAA membership, you’re just five simple steps away from competent do-it-yourself pride.
Steps to Change a Tire
Thankfully, the manner in which you change tires remains fairly similar between different automotive brands. You may even want to practice these skills in your garage or a safe, level surface so that you develop some experience before you’re forced to try this out on the road during a rainy day.
1. Ensure the vehicle is on a level, firm surface
To remove the tire, you will need to separate it from the ground through the use of a jack. It can be extremely dangerous to jack up a car on a sloped or uneven surface, so never try this on ground in which a pop can left on its side would roll away. You also need the ground underneath the jack to be firm, or else the weight of the vehicle will simply push the jack deeper into the ground instead of the car up in the air. When attempting to jack up a car on a soft or snowy surface, it can help to place something long and solid underneath it, like a piece of lumber or plywood. Use your discretion here.
2. Loosen the lug nuts on the wheel
Why do this before jacking up the vehicle? Because if you raise the vehicle and then try to use your tire wrench to loosen the tightly screwed lug nuts, you’ll simply spin the wheel instead of loosening them. Release the lug nuts just to the point where you could spin and remove them later with your fingers.
3. Use the jack to raise the vehicle
The majority of vehicles these days come with a car jack, normally placed along with the spare tire in the trunk, beneath a mat or liner. There will be instructions in your owner’s manual if you are unsure about how to use the jack. First, locate the solid underbody portion of the vehicle frame (the chassis) near the tire that needs replacing. Most vehicles will even have markings to indicate the ideal jack placement. Once in place, operate jack until the tire is safely above the ground; you’ll want to leave enough space for clearance for the fully inflated tire.
Side note: Don’t select for a jack point a portion of the car’s underbody that is a thin metal or fiberglass. Common sense typically prevails in selecting a sturdy enough spot, but the results can range from comical, to expensive, to tragic if a weak jack point is chosen.
4. Remove and replace the tire
Now it’s time to fully remove the lug nuts. Be sure to keep them somewhere they won’t get lost or fall under the vehicle (a reliable pocket or small cup/container does wonders). Once all the lug nuts have been removed, pull off the flat tire, and line up the replacement tire with the bolts. With the new tire in place, hand tighten the lug nuts.
5. Lower the vehicle and tighten the lug nuts
Slowly and carefully lower the vehicle back to the ground. Most wheels have five bolts arranged in a pentagon or star shape. It’s critical to tighten the lug nuts following a diagonal star pattern. Not doing so will result in some bolts remaining loose. After one star rotation, try each bolt again (in the same star pattern) and ensure each is tight to the point where it won’t move any further. Finally, give your vehicle a quick visual inspection before cleaning up your tools and driving.
Remember: Spare tires are not meant to act as replacements for your true tires. They are designed simply to take you to the nearest tire shop or garage.
Rather leave your tire rotation or flat tire replacement to the pros at River City Nissan? Book a service appointment with us online today!