It’s important to be ready to change a flat when the unexpected happens. Changing a flat tire can be a long, frustrating process if you aren’t prepared. You may not always have your Utah Auto Repair shop nearby to rely on. But, follow these steps and you’ll have smooth sailing and be on your way again.
The first step is to make sure that you have all the tools you need to change a tire. This includes the spare tire, lug nut wrench, jack, and a lug nut key (for non-standard lug nuts), and maybe a screwdriver to remove wheel covers. If you happened to purchase a used vehicle, some of them do not include these items. It is also a good idea to keep some wipes or disposable gloves in your vehicle as your hands will most likely get dirty.
Make sure the spare tire is properly inflated. The smaller donut tires require a much higher pressure, usually around 60 psi. Regular size tires (such as those found in SUVs, trucks, and vehicles with AWD) use normal tire pressures, usually 35 psi.
Out of sight, out of mind makes forgetting to check the spare tire’s pressure a common problem. Many spare tires are located under vehicles and being able to check them can be a bit of a hassle. If you are able, position the spare tire such that you can easily get to the valve stem.
Position the car in a flat safe location. If you need to move the car do so, just watch out for any sharp edges that may damage your wheel such as curbs or large rocks. Wheels are strong so you can drive on them to get yourself off the road to a safe position.
Set your parking brake, and if you have a manual transmission, put it in 1st gear to lock the front wheels. You don’t want your car rolling off your jack while working on your car. If changing a rear tire on a rear wheel drive vehicle chock the front wheels or put it in 4WD if you have it because the parking brake only locks the back wheels.
Once you’re prepared, changing the tire is a simple process. After securing the vehicle, remove the wheel covers if you have them, so you can get to the lug nuts. To remove wheel covers use a screw driver to pry them off or grab a section of the wheel cover and yank hard. Make sure the lug nuts are not hot so that you do not strip them (causing an expensive tow to a Utah auto repair shop).
Position the jack under the vehicle and make sure it’ll fit. If not, move the vehicle so it will. Loosen every lug nut, but don’t take them all the way off. Jack the vehicle up until the tire is 2 inches off the ground. Do not crawl under the vehicle. Unscrew the lug nuts all the way and remove the flat tire, and replace it with the spare. Start screwing on the lug nuts by hand to make sure they aren’t cross threaded. Lower the vehicle and turn each lug nut a few turns running through a star or crisscross pattern two or three times until you have completely tightened all the lug nuts. Take your vehicle to your favorite Utah auto repair place to have them fix your flat if able, and to make sure the lug nuts are at the correct torque setting.