Have a Flat? Here is How to Change Your Tire on the Side of the Road

A flat tire is usually unexpected and is a significant inconvenience to your day. Don’t get caught unprepared and lacking the tools and information needed to get the job done promptly. Let us help you with the basics of changing a tire for a car, truck, van, or SUV. Below are ten simple steps on how to change a tire.

  1. Pull Over Safely
    Safety is the most important priority. Safely pullover to the side of the road as soon as possible. It is important that the ground is level to keep the vehicle from rolling. Park as far as possible if you’re on the street or highway. Try to avoid stopping near any bends in the road because it reduces visibility for both you and other drivers. If you are in an unsafe area, carefully drive to a better location.
  2. Use Your Hazard Lights and Parking Brake
    Ensure your hazard lights are on to keep you and your vehicle safe by increasing your visibility for other drivers. Set the parking brake to decrease the vehicle’s ability to roll. If tire chocks are available, use them to prevent the vehicle from rolling while servicing the tire. If chocks are not available, find large rocks or something equivalent.
  3. Check for Tools
    You will need a jack, wrench, and your vehicle’s spare tire. To make this task easier, we recommend keeping these additional items in your vehicle to make this emergency more manageable: 

      Flashlight
      Gloves
      Mat or blanket for kneeling
      Rain poncho
      Tire gauge
      Owners Manual

  4. Loosen the Lug Nuts
    If your vehicle has a wheel cover, pry it off. Secure the wrench onto a lug nut, and turn it counterclockwise to loosen it. Repeat this process with each lug nut, making sure each one is loose enough to turn by hand.
  5. Jack Up Your Vehicle
    On the same side and closest to the flat tire, place the jack under the metal portion of your vehicle’s frame. To prevent damaging your vehicle, do not place the jack where it will contact any plastic molding. Refer to the vehicle owner’s manual to learn proper jack placement. If the manual is not available, a simple internet search using the year, make, and model can help find the necessary information. Once properly placed, use the jack to raise the tire off of the ground.
  6. Remove the Lug Nuts and the Tire
    Next, remove the lug nuts by hand. Keep the lug nuts together in a safe spot, as you’ll need them to secure the replacement tire. After removing the lug nuts, firmly grip your tire and pull it directly toward your body and set the tire down, ensuring it will not roll away.
  7. Mount the Spare Tire
    Line up the spare with the lug nut posts and place the spare tire on the wheelbase. Push the spare tire as far onto the wheelbase as possible.
  8. Replace the Lug Nuts
    Put the lug nuts on so the spare tire stays put. Do not tighten lug nuts all the way yet.
  9. Lower Your Vehicle Some and Tighten the Lug Nuts
    Using the jack, slowly lower the vehicle until the spare tire starts touching the ground. Doing so will hold the tire in place to begin tightening the lug nuts. Tighten the lug nuts in increments, in a star pattern. For example, assign a number to each lug nut, then work in this order: 1, 3, 5, 2, 4, 1, 3, 5, 2, 4, and repeat. This pattern is essential for safety and will keep the tire on straight.
  10. Lower Your Vehicle Completely and Finish Tightening
    Once the lug nuts are securely tightened, completely lower your vehicle to the ground. Once grounded, tighten the lug nuts a little bit further. Continue your tightening in the same incremental order until they no longer move.

Congratulations! You have successfully changed a spare tire. Your flat tire may be salvageable. Bring the damaged tire to your trusted mechanic to test and possibly repair it. It’s not safe to operate a vehicle without a spare tire.  Inspect your spare tire and parts to ensure it is ready to use in case of an emergency. If you are looking for a trustworthy auto repair shop that can help you with tires, look no further than Foothill Auto Service. Our well-trained, ASE-Certified and dedicated auto mechanics team provides thorough auto repair and tire services to our valued customers. We take pride in keeping you updated throughout your service. 

Customers from Lake Forest, Foothill Ranch, Portola Hills, Rancho Santa Margarita, Coto De Caza, Mission Viejo & Trabuco Canyon have come to trust our commitment to quality auto repair. If your vehicle needs preventive maintenance, repairs, tire service, or a check engine light diagnosis, call us today or schedule an appointment online so we can take great care of you and your vehicle. Experience the Foothill Auto Service difference, you’ll be glad you did. We are located at 26911 Vista Terrace, Lake Forest, CA 92630. We look forward to your visit!

Written by Foothill Auto Service