A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Change a Flat Tire

August 31, 2020Car Care and Revamp
Michael Vaughan

Moving through the Bay Area, Michael works as a freelance writer in the moving and transportation industry.

No matter if it’s a car, truck, or van that you drive – it’s very useful to know how to change a flat tire, so you don’t end up helpless in the middle of the road. This article will guide you through all the steps and commonly asked questions, and help you do everything by yourself. We can’t promise a fun time, but we can say that this will be a piece of valuable knowledge.

If you’re headed somewhere in your four-wheeler and suddenly feel a thump and vibration followed by a flapping noise, you can be almost certain that one of your tires is punctured. Having a tire pressure monitoring system can let you know that one of the tires is losing pressure, and it will help you avoid all of this. If you don’t have it, here’s what you should do in case you don’t know how to change a tire.

Were You Ever in a Situation to Learn How to Change a Flat Tire on the Vehicle?

This is an important skill for every driver, and anyone can do it. That is why there should be no distinction between men and women when it comes to replacing tires. Drivers or not, this skill might come in handy at some point in your life. Imagine driving in New York City or driving in Los Angeles with traffic jams and hours on the road, and you realize you have a flat? That will surely cause driving stress and maybe even road rage. There’s no need to think about How much does it cost to change a flat tire when you can do it alone, quickly and efficiently.

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Can I Move My Car With a Flat Tire?

Once your tires are punctured by something sharp, or by a hole in the road, you shouldn’t drive too far, nor too fast. Firstly, your car will no longer be safe, your steering wheel can start to pull to left or right, and you might lose control over it. Another reason is that you don’t want any damage to happen to your wheel, and it will happen after some time because it will start to shred the tire. Use the short time while your vehicle is still operable to get it off the road and stop somewhere where you won’t block the traffic.

Flat Tire Repair on Your Vehicle Asks for a Jack, Lug Nut Wrench, and Spare Tire

It’s recommended to have these things in your car at all times. A jack is a device used for lifting heavy objects off the ground, such as the axle of a motor vehicle for changing wheels or for having the underside inspected. A lug nut wrench is a type of a socket wrench that you will require so you can loosen and tighten lug nuts on your wheels. The socket should be the same size as the nuts. A spare tire is almost always in the vehicle unless it has already been used. If you carry it with you always, be sure to check its pressure every once in a while, just in case. You don’t need a useless reserve.

What Are the Steps When Changing Tires?

And now we come to the main question – How to replace a tire? Quite easy, if you follow these instructions:

  • Get to a safe spot where you can fix your problem without blocking other drivers
  • Be sure that it’s solid and level ground and park your car there
  • Engage your parking brake and turn on the hazard lights
  • If you have a manual transmission, leave the car in the first gear or in reverse
  • You will also need some heavy objects like bricks or rocks to place on both sides of the wheel diagonal of the one you’re fixing so that you can stop the car from moving
  • Loosen up the opposite nuts (in a so-called star pattern) using the lug wrench counterclockwise. If they have a plastic cap, remove them, and make sure you don’t lose them.
  • Put the jack under the car’s frame near the punctured tire and turn it clockwise to jack it up until the wheel is off the ground
  • Remove the loosened nuts and put them somewhere safe
  • Then you will be able to remove the flat and mount the reserve one in its place
  • Put back the lug nuts one at a time and tighten them by hand first, and then with a wrench, again by tightening the opposites to ensure uniform pressure
  • Lower the car and continue with the tightening
  • Put the flat and the tools in the trunk, and you’re ready to go

Once You Place the Lug Nuts Back, Go to the Nearest Repair Shop

Driving with a spare is a solution, but only a short term one. The American Automobile Association (AAA) recommends that you should not drive over 50 mph and no more than 50 miles with a donut-type reserve tire. It’s a myth that you can drive normally – a spare should only be used to drive to the nearest repair shop. They will inspect the punctured rubber and see can it be fixed or should it be replaced with a new one. If you drive long distances with a spare, you can damage other parts of the car, such as the transmission.

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Avoid Getting Hurt When Changing Tires

When it comes to how to fix a flat, one of the most important things is to stay safe and to protect yourself and other people when fixing flats. If you have a reflective triangle, place it on the ground behind the car, so that other drivers can know that you’re dealing with an issue.

Never get under the car when you’re changing flats – jack is only used to support the car, and it can slip off and hurt you. Keep other people away as well until the fixing is done.

Always check your owner manual before doing anything. There, you will find all the information you need to do this properly.

A mechanic replacing the flat with a spare tire
When handling car problems, safety should always come first

Tips on How to Repair a Tire

If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have a spare tire, and there’s no expert near you to fix it, you should know how to repair a flat tire by yourself. These car parts aren’t cheap, and having the right equipment with you for fixing them could be a lifesaver. Knowing how to use a tire repair kit is essential for knowing how to fix a flat tire.

There are one-step and two-step kinds of repair kits. The one-step kit is basically just attaching the hose, which simultaneously injects the sealant and air, while the two-step kits have a bottle of repair sealant for tires and an inflator. Once you locate the damage, mark it, and use pliers or a screwdriver to remove the item that caused the hazard. Ream the hole so that it can receive the tools and use the rubber cement to patch the crack. Be aware that this is just a temporary solution. If you want a more permanent solution, you will need to remove the tire from the rim and then to patch the damage from the inside.

Can You Just Put Air in a Flat Tire?

Since the main concern of every person having a punctured tire is the inflation pressure, this is one of the common questions. If you’re in the situation that the air from the tire leaks slowly, one of the quicker answers to the question of how to fix a flat tire is that you can and you should just put air in it. As soon as you notice that the pressure in the tire is lower than it should be, and you can’t see the damage, inflate it without removing it. Don’t risk driving for too long – go to the nearest repair shop and see how big of a problem you have. If you neglect the fact that there’s a hole in the rubber, it can become even bigger. If you have the chance to repair the tire, do it before inflating it. Then, you can just take the air pump, put it into the valve stem, and pump the air inside.

Where to Get a Tire Fixed?

Every time you drive, the tire risks to be punctured, and according to the Tire Industry Association, the risk is so big that it’s just a matter of time when you will get a flat, not if. The best possible solution for the problem called how to fix a flat tire on a car is to go to a technician at the service stations or auto repair center that can demount the tire and inspect the puncture from the inside. Not every damage is visible from the outside – sometimes an object can make a hole to the sidewall that you can see only from the inside. A technician will remove the item that damaged the rubber, and patch it professionally. Auto repair centers and service stations use rubber to fill the void that has been made, and they seal the inner liner with a repair unit. This isn’t something unusual, and it’s a great solution if you’re trying to save some money and avoid buying a new tire.

A man next to his car checking the tire
If you're not so sure how to do something by yourself, ask for professional help

What to Do With a Flat Tire After You Change It?

Ok, so you’ve seen how to fix a tire and realized that the damage is too big. What then? It doesn’t mean that it has to become trash. There are plenty of ways for you to recycle this great material. They can be used for jacking up the car, or you can be more creative and put them in your garden, build an obstacle course, or make furniture. One of the ideas is to make a coffee table by gluing a wooden top on it. If you don’t have time for creativity, know that local tire shops can recycle tires for you.

man searching for a car shipping company
Google more ways of using tires that are no longer good

Do Auto Transport Companies Support Shipping a Car With a Flat?

Did you plan on relocating your car soon, and you don’t have time or you simply don’t want to fix a flat tire before the move and prepare the car for shipping? Don’t worry. Whether you opted for an open trailer or you wish to have your car more protected, and you purchased enclosed trailer services for exotic auto transport, you will be able to do it. Most auto shipping companies can offer to transport a car without a flat tire repair, but there will be some changes compared to the usual transport of cars from state to state:

  • You can expect the price to be higher than the regular auto shipping if you don’t fix a flat car tire
  • The company might ask for photos of your car and the tire so that they know in what condition it is
  • The pick-up window for operable vehicles of up to three days can be wider in this situation. Your automobile would classify as “inoperable,” and because of that, it would need extra time
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