A few days ago, I took an informal survey among women asking if they were able to change a flat tire on a car. The results would make any self-respecting feminist cringe.
Virtually none of my female associates with ages ranging from 18 – 45 could put a donut on their car without help. Most of the ladies didn’t seem too worried about it because they had roadside assistance through their insurance or an hombre who “does that kind of stuff”.
Girl power aside, the ability to change your own tire is a safety issue as well. There may be a time that your car gets a flat in a skivvy neighborhood or on a dangerous spot on the freeway – *Knock on wood*.
Luckily, I’m a big supporter of women’s independence, and I’m going to walk you through changing a flat. You should bookmark this page on your phone’s browser for easy reference.
You SHOULD have everything you need to change a flat in the back of your trunk, but double check that everything is there and in proper working order.
- Tire iron/ lug wrench – It’s a type of socket wrench used to tighten or loosen lug nuts on the wheels of your car. They come in either L-shaped (standard equipment on most cars) or cross-shaped, which you can find at any auto parts store. Ensure the tire iron is the correct one for your car.
- Spare tire/ donut – An additional wheel and tire combo stored in the trunk of your car. The spare is usually smaller than your standard wheel/tire and not for extended use. They are designed to get you to a repair facility. Going over 50 mph is not recommended. Make sure the spare is properly inflated.
- Jack – A device that lifts the vehicle so that maintenance can be performed. Your car most likely comes with a small scissor jack tucked away in your trunk. It will look like the one on the picture to the left.
- Owner’s manual – Instructional book that is supplied with your car. It contains safety and maintenance instructions along with warranty information.
- Gloves – Changing a tires is a messy proposition. You might want to put some gloves in the back of your trunk just in case you have a blowout while on your way to an interview or an important meeting.
- Block of wood – The block is used to prevent the car from rolling off the jack. If you HAVE to park in dirt or grass, it can potentially be used under the jack to keep it from sinking into the ground if the wood is larger than the jack’s base.
Park in a safe spot
If you have a flat tire, park your car off the road in a well-lit area. Ensure you have enough room to change the tire and you’re not in the way of oncoming traffic. Don’t park on dirt or grass because your jack may become unstable. Turn your emergency lights on and raise your hood so that police officers or tow truck operators know you need help.
Changing a tire is easy!
1. After parking your car, turn off your engine and put on the emergency brake.
2. Place the block of wood behind the tire opposite of the flat tire to prevent rolling.
3. Check your spare and make sure it’s inflated properly. If it’s not, wait for a tow truck.
4. Slightly loosen, but don’t remove, the lug nuts in a star-patterned order with the tire iron before you jack up the car. To take off the lug nuts, turn counterclockwise. They’re most likely very tight, and if you can’t loosen them with arm strength, you can stand on the tire iron to produce enough force. Should your car have a hubcap, take it off by using the flat end of the tire iron or use a screwdriver. Some hubcaps are held in place by the lug nuts. If this is the case, leave the hubcap on for now.
5. Consult the owner’s manual to find the spot on the frame for placing the jack, and place the jack underneath. Jack up the car high enough so that the spare tire fits. The jack is raised by turning the handle clockwise and lowered by turning the handle counterclockwise. If you’ve lost the handle to the jack, use the end of the tire iron or a screwdriver.
6. Go ahead, take off the lug nuts completely, and remove the flat tire. Sometimes the flat tire won’t come off and it may seem “stuck”. If you encounter this, give the flat tire a good kick around the edges to get it loose.
7. Put on your spare by lining up the bolts with the holes on the wheel, and slide the wheel on. Make sure the correct side is facing out. There is usually a label, and you’ll be able to see the air valve sticking out. You may have to raise the car higher in order for the spare to fit. Adjust the jack accordingly.
8. After you have the wheel on, replace the lug nuts one by one in the same star pattern that you loosened them. Tighten the lug nuts by hand until you get firm resistance.
9. Lower the jack until it’s free from the car’s weight and remove it. Tighten all nuts once more in the proper sequence. If you don’t have a lot of arm strength, you might want to stand on the tire iron to tighten them. Your car will shake and wobble when you drive if not done correctly.
10. Replace the spare with a new tire or a repaired tire as soon as possible. Spare tires have a max life of about 70 total miles.
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