New drivers face many challenges and some of them pertain to their vehicles. A car is a complex piece of machinery so many things can go wrong. Onboard computers alert drivers to many issues before these become major problems. However, there may be no announcement for a flat tire, which can occur whether driving or parked in the garage. New drivers should prepare themselves by learning how to change a flat tire.
Most newer-model cars are equipped with a spare tire, tire iron, and a jack. The spare tire may be housed underneath the floor mat within the trunk, mounted to the back of the vehicle, or stored underneath the car. Find it and remove it, then use an air pressure gauge to verify that it has sufficient air pressure. If not, fill it with air or purchase a replacement tire.
If the vehicle is not on a flat surface, move it to one. Verify that the car is in park (or in gear for manual transmissions) and apply the emergency brake. Place a brick or piece of thick wood underneath the tire opposite the flat one so the car will be less likely to move when raised. Loosen the wheel lugs on the flat tire by fitting the tire iron over the lugs and exerting force while turning the iron counterclockwise to dislodge them.
Keep the loosened lugs on the tire and identify the jacking locations for the vehicle by looking under the car or reading the owner manual. Position the jack under the jack point nearest the flat tire and use the hand crank to turn the knob on the end of the jack. Continue opening the jack until the flattened tire is off the ground completely. Remove the wheel lugs and set them aside, then remove the flat tire.
Position the spare tire on the wheel studs by holding the tire up and aligning the wheel holes with the studs. Hang the tire on the studs and screw the wheel lugs on by hand being careful not to cross-thread them. Use the tire iron to tighten wheel lugs so they are snug and the wheel sits flush against the brake hub.
Lower the jack carefully and remove it, then tighten the lugs as much as possible with the tire iron. Put the flat tire into the spare tire compartment and replace the tire iron and jack. If a compact spare tire is used, follow the manufacturer instructions for top driving speed. Have the flat tire repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
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*Photo Courtesy of Alicia Nijdam via Creative Commons License