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How To Change A Flat Tire

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On: Mon, Sep 5, 2011 at 9:21AM | By: Peter C Sessler

How To Change A Flat Tire

Today, we’ll take a look at another car-owning basic. It seems pretty simple to do, yet it can be very dangerous. It’s easy to get overconfident here, because it doesn’t seem to take a lot of mechanical ability.

There are two ways you can get a flat. The first is when you’re driving along. Suddenly, you’ll hear a progressively louder thump-thump sound and, quite likely, the car will begin to shake. Most people instinctively slow down and pull over to the side of the road. More dangerous is when you have a blow-out; that’s when the tire loses air pressure all at once. Depending on how fast you’re going, it’s very possible to lose control.

Hopefully, your car will have a spare (or a temporary spare) and jack. The first thing to do is to see how much air there is in the spare. If it feels hard, it’s probably OK. If it, too, is flat, call for a tow truck. Next, put the shifter in park, if you already haven’t done so, and engage the parking brake. Hopefully you’ll be on level ground but even if you are, find a rock or something you can wedge between the good tires and road surface to stop the car from rolling as it is jacked up.

Here’s where we separate the men from the boys. Before jacking up the car, take the lug wrench and loosen every nut on the flat. Don’t remove them yet, just loosen them. Sometimes they can be almost impossible to remove because a lot of repair shops use way to much force to tighten them. If you find that you can’t break the nuts loose or that the factory lug wrench starts slipping and rounding out the nuts, it’s time to call the tow truck. Many of the fairer sex will find it difficult to loosen the nuts anyway.

If you’ve gotten the nuts loose, place the jack under the car according to the instructions in the owner’s manual or on the sticker that’s usually found by the spare tire or jack. Here, you’ll probably get a little dirty because you really should look exactly where you place the jack and that means getting down on your knees to look underneath the car. Jack the car up slowly until the tire is off the ground, loosen and remove the lug nuts, and then remove the flat tire. Then you can install the spare.

Hand-tighten the lug nuts and slowly let the car down. When the car is down, tighten the lug nuts, following an "X" pattern. Reinstall the wheel cover (if so equipped), put the jack and lug wrench away, and then drive to your local tire or service station to have the flat tire fixed or replaced. Having a full size spare makes it possible to put off fixing the flat—and it does happen. However, you can’t use a temporary spare for long or at cruising speeds.

The second way of getting a flat is discovering your car has a flat in the morning or after coming back from a shopping trip. You can, of course, repeat the procedure outlined above, but you may be able to get away by using a can of Fix-A-Flat (assuming you’re near a parts store or had the foresight to keep a can in the trunk). I’ve had excellent results with the stuff on slow leaks.

It’s possible to deal with punctures without replacing the flat tire as well. Again, assuming you carry a tire plug kit, you can stick a plug in the hole and drive off (after filling the tire or, again, a can of Fix-A-Flat will do as well).

If none of these methods work for you, you can always drive on the flat very slowly until you reach a service station. The tire will most likely be unusable and have to be replaced. But at least, you won’t get your hands dirty.



James Roberts | 8:48PM (Tue, Sep 6, 2011)

I would never suggest driving on a flat tire. I have seen too many people ruin very expensive rims by deciding they could make it home. Drive to a safe location, If you are not capable call AAA


Andrew3042 | 8:55AM (Wed, Sep 7, 2011)

Besides ruining the rim it can be very dangerous as the control is very limited with a flat tire.

  • Andrew3042

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