How To Put On a Spare Tire
The best time to learn how to put on a spare tire is definitely not when you have a flat tire and are stuck on the side of the road. Whether you are a new driver, taking your first rental car road trip, or you’re an experienced driver that just doesn’t know how to put on a spare tire, you should learn this vital life skill.
Like budgeting your bills, doing your taxes, or time management skills, there are some things we should all probably learn in school that we just don’t realize until we’re on our own to figure it out. Sadly, putting on a spare tire is one of these life skills that we should be taught, but sometimes we aren’t.
Have no fear, though. By the end of this, you’ll have a better understanding of how to put on a spare tire, and you may even be ready to give it a try.
Guide to Fixing a Flat Tire
When attempting to do anything, it’s always wise to gather your supplies or materials first. Here are the items that should have come with your vehicle and that you’ll need to fix your flat tire:
- A jack
- A lug wrench
- A fully inflated spare tire
- Your vehicle’s owner’s manual (handy if you’re not sure where the previous items can be found)
This list consists of things you must have to change your tire. If you don’t have any of these things, you should work to replace them as quickly as possible or check with your rental car company.
If you don’t check your tire pressure periodically, it’s worth noting that you should, especially before you travel. If you’re in a vehicle that’s unfamiliar to you, such as a rental car, it is also a good idea to check the PSI in the tires before you start on your way.
Other Helpful Items
A few other items may not come with your car, but you may want to consider having one on hand, even if you’re in a rental. if you need to change your tire while you’re on the go, items must include:
- A pair of gloves
- A large piece of folded cardboard
- A small piece of wood cut from a 2×6 to give your jack a sturdy base
- Tire chocks
- A set of traffic triangles
- A flashlight with batteries
- A tire gauge
- A poncho
Unlike the previous list, these are not make-or-break items, but they can help ensure that you’re more likely to have an easy, successful tire change.
How To Change Your Tire
When you hear the thumping sound and feel the vibrations as you’re driving down the road, it will quickly dawn on you that you’ve got a flat tire. Unfortunately, if the flat is on one of the front tires, it may become difficult to steer, but here’s what you should do:
Step One: Remain Calm
One of the most important things to remember when driving and an unexpected event occurs is to remain calm. You’re no good to yourself if you panic, and with a flat tire, remaining calm will help you get to the next step safely. Just breathe and know that you can do this.
Step Two: Find A Safe Location To Pull Over
Next, you want to slowly reduce your speed and check your surroundings as you do so. Look for an empty parking lot or an area of the road that best meets these conditions:
- Level ground to prevent your vehicle from rolling
- Straight and away from bends to improve your visibility for other drivers
- Wide shoulders to give you space to work out of the way of oncoming traffic
Remember that your safety is paramount. If you can’t find a piece of road that meets these conditions, particularly the wide shoulder, then you should keep driving slowly until you reach a better place to pull over safely.
You shouldn’t drive on a flat for very long because it can mess up the rim of your tire, but your safety is more important than anything else. So, be sure to choose a safe place to pull over.
When you have pulled over safely, check your owner’s manual for instructions on how to change your vehicle’s tire specifically.
Step Three: Time For Your Hazard Lights
When you have found a safe place to pull over, turn on your hazard lights. Your hazard lights, or “flashers,” are the lights you’ve seen on other cars that repeatedly blink on the front and back of the vehicle.
These let other drivers know that you’re there, and they can see you more easily. This will help you, and the other drivers avoid an accident. You’ll typically have a button in your instrument panel with a symbol of a traffic triangle on it. This button will turn on your hazards.
Step Four: Use That Parking Brake
Some newer vehicles apply the parking brake automatically, but if your vehicle doesn’t offer that feature, be sure to use the parking brake. This will help stabilize your vehicle and help prevent rolling.
Step Five: Place Safety Triangles and Wheel Chocks
To increase your visibility for other drivers, safely place your traffic triangles at the front and back of your vehicle a few paces out. Next, place the wheel chocks in front of or behind the wheels that you won’t be working on.
If you are working on a rear tire, you’ll place the chocks in front of your front tires. If you’re working on a front tire, you’ll place the chocks behind your rear tires. This step will further stabilize your vehicle to prevent rolling.
Step Six: Loosen the Lug Nuts
If you don’t see the lug nuts on your tire, you may need to remove your hubcap or wheel cover to access them. Now, you will use the appropriate lug wrench for your vehicle to loosen the lug nuts.
You will use the wrench to turn the lug nuts counterclockwise until you feel the change in their resistance. Loosen them, but don’t remove them yet.
Step Seven: Time for the Jack
To properly place the jack, look for the flat spot alongside the tire on the underside of the vehicle frame. You may notice a space of exposed metal where you would otherwise feel plastic. If the ground is soft, remember to place your piece of wood under the jack for stability.
Once you’ve found the proper place for your jack, follow the owner’s manual for how to place and operate your jack. Slowly lift your vehicle with the jack.
Step Eight: Remove The Lug Nuts
Remove the lug nuts completely now. If you had a hubcap, use it as a bowl to contain your lug nuts until you’re ready for them again.
Step Nine: Bye-Bye Flat Tire
At this point, it is okay to remove the flat tire. Grip the tire on either side. You may be able to grip around the threads and then pull the tire gently forward to you until it is no longer on the hub. Set it aside.
Step Ten: Put On The Spare
Now you may place the spare tire on, use the lug nuts to secure it, and hand tighten the lug nuts before you lower your car back down almost all the way. Once the car is lowered a bit, use the lug wrench again to tighten the lug nuts the rest of the way.
Step Twelve: Finish Up
Now that your spare tire is securely in place, it’s time to wrap things up. Lower your vehicle the rest of the way down. Now, tidy up by doing the following:
- Replace your hubcap
- Put away your tools
- Check your spare’s tire pressure
- Place your flat tire in the vehicle to have it serviced later
- Pull up your traffic triangles
You’re ready to be on your way. Just be sure to adhere to the speed limits of your spare tire, about 50 mph.
Changing your tire doesn’t have to be a mysterious skill. Learning to do it yourself can save some time and money and keep you rolling along safely. It just takes a few steps, and you’ll be back on your way.
6.3.6 Emergency Warning Devices (392.22) | csa.fmcsa.dot.gov
Tires | nhtsa.gov
REFERENCE NO: RF-18-02R1 DATE: January 8, 2019 SUBJECT: ALL MODELS – CHANGE IN LUG NUT SIZE As of May 1, 2018, Japan produced | static.nhtsa.gov