How to change a tire

By Reese McBride

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Here’s a scenario: You’re driving on the highway back to your house, and all of a sudden your check tire pressure light appears on your dashboard and you feel the front left of your car sink. You pull over to the shoulder and carefully get out. Your tire has an enormous nail in it. What to do? 

Before any ride, be completely sure of the spare tire kit in your car. If you don’t have one, you need to get one. You should have one spare tire, a manual car jack, and a jack wrench. 

The first thing to do is secure the car. If you are on a hill, make sure that your car is safe and immovable. Place something heavy or firm behind the opposite tire in the back. This will help to stabilize the car and ensure that it won’t roll away. 

The next thing to do is take your lug wrench and loosen the lugs on the wheel. This might require some strength and you want to loosen them in a star pattern. This helps distribute the weight of the tire across the wheel. However, you don’t want to remove the lug nuts from the wheel just yet because they will keep the tire on the wheel while you lift the car off the ground. 

Step three is to put the car into the air. Set your jack on the backside of whatever tire you need to change and use your lug wrench and jack wrench to screw the jack and lift the car. This takes strength and persistence. 

Once the entire tire is a few inches off of the ground, you’ll want to finish removing the lug nuts. This doesn’t require any type of pattern. At this point they should be loose enough you can remove them with your hands. You can use something like a cup to make sure the lugnuts stay in one place and make sure they don’t roll away from you.

As soon as you have put the lug nuts in a secure location, remove the wheel plate and the tire. Place your spare tire on your car and hand tighten the lug nuts. You can do this in any pattern you like. Then when you have tightened the lug nuts all the way, you can carefully use the lug wrench to tighten the lugs nuts. Do not forcefully tighten the lug nuts because there is a risk that if you rock the car hard enough the vehicle will fall off of the jack. 

Slowly lower the car back onto the ground. Now that the car is down on the ground, you can once again tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern. Please remember that the spare tire is not a regular tire and is only made to get you to a place that can properly replace your tire. Please don’t go above 60mph on your spare and get it replaced as soon as possible. 


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