How To Change A Flat Tire

by Brett & Kate McKay on November 6, 2008 · 47 comments

in Cars, Manly Skills

There’s no sound  as disheartening to a driver than the flop flop of a flat tire. They always seem to come at inconvenient times, too. But to a man who knows how to change a flat, that flopping noise is a chance to display his self-sufficiency.

Just like knowing how to jumpstart a car, knowing how to change a flat tire is a skill every man should possess. It will save your own butt when you’re out on some lonely stretch of highway and come in handy when helping a damsel in distress or a hapless traveler on the side of the road. Follow these steps and you’ll back on the road in no time.

Tools needed: Spare tire, jack, lug wrench.

1. Park your car on a flat surface. If you get a flat while on the road, pull your car as far away from traffic as possible . Make sure to put on the emergency brake. It’s also recommended to put a block on the tire opposite of the flat tire. Put to use that fruitcake from Aunt Gertie you’ve been toting around in the trunk. Here’s a blocking example: if your right rear tire is flat, put the block on the front left tire.

2. Remove the hubcap. If your car has a hubcap, remove it so you can get to the lug nuts. Use the hubcap to hold the nuts, just like the dad in A Christmas Story. Just don’t let your kid hold the hubcap or he’ll lose them and drop the F-bomb.

3. Loosen the nuts. Grab your lug wrench and place it on the flat tire’s lug nuts. Loosen them up by turning them counterclockwise. The nuts are probably on there really tight, so you’ll have to use all your man strength to unscrew them. Loosen the nuts a few turns, but don’t take any of them off yet!

4. Place the jack underneath your car. Check your owner’s manual for the correct placement of the jack. Turn the hand crank at the end of the jack to raise the jack until it comes into contact with your car’s frame. Make sure it’s touching a sturdy spot.

5. Jack it up! Start cranking the jack until the wheel is high enough above the ground to remove the tire.

6. Remove the flat. Remove the lug nuts from the wheel. You should be able to do it by hand because you’ve already loosened them. Remove the flat tire and lay it flat. You don’t want the wheel to roll into traffic during rush hour and cause a thirty car pile-up.

7. Slap on your spare. Take your spare tire and line up the lugs, or bolts, with the holes in the wheel and slide the wheel on. Once the wheel is on, take your lug nuts and tighten them by hand until you meet firm resistance.

8. Lower the car. Lower the jack until the wheel is firmly on the ground.

9. Finish tightening your lug nuts. These babies must be on super tight so the wheel doesn’t come flying off while driving to the tire shop to get the flat fixed. So you need to unleash the super power of the star pattern to get those lugs tighter than a deer tick. Use this tightening pattern if you have five bolts on your wheel. Start with any lug nut and then follow this pattern:

If your car has four, use this pattern:

Have any other tips on how to change a flat? How about some war stories changing a flat tire? Share with us in the comments.

{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Fr. Cory Sticha November 6, 2008 at 9:51 pm

Don’t forget that the only time a flat tire occurs is when your trunk is full of stuff and the spare is buried underneath all of it. This means that the first step in changing the tire, after stopping the car, is to empty out the trunk so that you can get to the spare tire and jack.

2 William Bargo November 6, 2008 at 10:08 pm

Don’t forget the rain. Flat tires always occur during a torrential rain…unless it’s snowing.

3 Alex November 6, 2008 at 10:19 pm

I appreciate the diaghram about the star pattern. I hadn’t heard that before.

4 alfred November 6, 2008 at 10:36 pm

how long should you be driving on a spare?

5 dajolt November 7, 2008 at 12:44 am

Already had to do this myself (without having any clue about it)- and guess what – it is covered in the car’s manual, just like other tasks you could perform yourself.

So just leaf through that manual once and make sure you have it in the car at all times and you’ll be OK most of the time…

6 Dennis November 7, 2008 at 1:29 am

Originally Posted By dajoltAlready had to do this myself (without having any clue about it)- and guess what – it is covered in the car’s manual, just like other tasks you could perform yourself.

So just leaf through that manual once and make sure you have it in the car at all times and you’ll be OK most of the time…

Speaking of manuals, it will probably recommend that you should pull over after a few miles on the spare to re-tighten the lugs on the spare before continuing on as well as max speed, distance and weight limitations. All of these items can change significantly if you have a compact or full size spare.

In the spirit of the Man of the Year recommendations, kudo’s to my Dad who taught me how to change a tire.

7 Overstroming November 7, 2008 at 4:43 am

Safety is important, always make sure that you minimise your exposure to traffic when changing a wheel. Especially at night and poor visibility. It’s better to drive slowly on a flat tyre to a safe stopping place, than try to change it and get hit on the head by a truck.

Also, because the flat tyre is, well, flat you don’t need to jack the car too high to remove it, however you will often have not enough clearance to fit the spare and have to jack it up some more. This isn’t a problem if you’re safely set up but it’;s better not to risk the car coming down on the naked hub, so jack it to a good height before removing the flat.

And most important – get the flat tyre repaired or replaced. You don’t want to find it in your tyre-well the next time you get a puncture.

8 ej November 7, 2008 at 4:51 am

Originally Posted By alfredhow long should you be driving on a spare?

@alfred
depends on the spare. If you have one of those little donut things, you are supposed to keep it under 50mph and, IIRC, 50 miles.

If it is a real tire, well… its a real tire. You should have a real tire for a spare. Go buy one.

9 Glen November 7, 2008 at 5:00 am

Along the lines of William’s comment, flat tires will usually happen when you are wearing nice clothes. They never happen when you are driving around in your dirty work clothes. Get an inexpensive oversized jumpsuit (even the disposable kind work). Also toss in a pair of gloves. You will do a better and faster job if you are not worrying about getting dirty.

10 James III November 7, 2008 at 5:09 am

When the Firstone tires where flying off tires all around the country it happened to me as well. Luckily, even though I was drving 70+ miles an hour and lite new rain was on the road the tire did not come completely apart…

However, the tire was then completely bald and missing all tread. The tread, which flew up into the window, scared the piss out my friends. I nearly lost control of the Jeep except that my father had taught me how to regain control from hydroplaning when he taught me how to drive. (I was 18 at the time and still a new driver, though I had gone mudding quite often by this point.) It seems that the principle was the same and I reacted with muscle memory and remained calm. I firmly believe that because I neither jerked the stirring wheel in the “natural” direction nor slammed on the brakes I saved the lives of my good friends that summer.

There was another important lesson after the nearly dieing part.

I pulled off the highway on to some really soft ground. The jack sank into the soft sandy ground of East Texas. So I had the three friends who were in car get out, with their stuff that was mostly water proof. (We were on our way home from camping.) We used a large piece of my tire tread that we had retrieved from the side of highway to support the jack. The scrap was wide enough that the jack could not displace enough ground to sink. Ever since then I have carried a small piece of plywood in my trucks to facilitate an easier change.

11 Jim Nutt November 7, 2008 at 5:22 am

Since I off-road a fair amount, I have a 20# CO2 cylinder, air tools and a trolley jack in the back of the jeep. Makes short work of changing flats on the side of the road (or on the trail) and the look on someone’s face when you pull out the air tools is priceless. Of course, it’s not nearly as much fun when I’m driving my wife’s car…

12 Dennis November 7, 2008 at 5:27 am

Keep a can of WD-40 or some other light oil somewhere in your vehicle. If your lugnuts are stuck so tight your manly strength can’t loosen them, squirt a little oil on them and let it sit for a few minutes. A lot of times, WD-40 can loosen up the threads inside the nut, and it will allow you to break it loose. I learned that trick from a 74 year-old tree farmer.

13 Art November 7, 2008 at 5:27 am

Have your tires rotated regularly. In addition to reducing the risk of a blowout, taking the wheels off periodically keeps them from rusting onto the hubs. There’s nothing worse than jacking up a truck in a snowstorm, getting the lugs off, and finding that the wheel is still seized on.

I was 18 at the time and still a new driver, though I had gone mudding quite often by this point.

I think “How to Drive in Crap” should be the next entry in this series. I learned how to drive in Western NY in the winter, and one of the first things my parents made me do was take the car to an empty, snow covered, parking lot and slide it around. The more time you spend getting a car out of control on purpose, the safer you’re going to be when it happens unexpectedly.

14 TimBuck2 November 7, 2008 at 5:30 am

Great post and excellent comments. I never pass up the opportunity to assist a female or elderly couple if they have a flat tire. I’d like to add a few ideas that can help.

First, it was mentioned about safety. If you have the opportunity, pull off to a safe location such as a side road or parking lot. Put on your 4way flashers or get one of those handy flashing emergency strobes at the auto stores. If your pulling off to help others, park your car between you and the oncoming traffic.

Second, have something to kneel on, such as a small section of rug, or an old pillow, helpful for your knees. I like the idea of a pair of gloves as Glen said.

Also, since you got those lug nuts off, grease them for next time!

Cheers!

15 Spoon November 7, 2008 at 6:07 am

Changing a flat tire is one of the easiest things a person can do with their car, and as dajolt mentioned, it’s usually well-detailed in your car’s manual; there’s no excuse for a person to not know how to change a tire.

I’ve changed a number of flat tires on my own car or on friends’ cars, to the point that it’s almost routine. At the same time, it’s always a pain because, as the article says, flat tires never seem to occur at opportune times.

The worst for me was when my wife and I were driving to a friend’s wedding in a city 100+ miles from home on a Saturday evening. Since we were driving back home after the wedding, my wife was driving there and I would drive us back home. Just a couple exits away from where we were going, our rear right tire suddenly goes flat. My wife (who was driving at the time) pulls the car off on an exit ramp, and I get out, in some of my best clothes, and change the tire.

On the down side, we missed the wedding (but we did make it to the reception). On the up side, thank God, we were able to find a tire place that was still open to replace the flat tire (it had a big hole in it and was beyond repair).

Now that I think about it, I think I may want to get actual spare tires for our cars in the future, since the worst part of that ordeal was wondering how we were going to get home (the “doughnut” spares aren’t good for driving on for 100 miles).

So, I’d add another point to the “Law of Flat Tires”: Flat tires almost always occur when all the tire repair shops are closed. Perhaps I might suggest that a future post discuss how to repair a tire?

Also, to answer alfred’s question, if you have one of those little “doughnut” spares (i.e., the smaller tire/wheel), those are only intended to get you as far as the nearest tire shop.

One more point (and then I’ll shut up): get to know the tire places around you. Most will charge somewhere around $30 (I believe) to repair a flat. However, in my area, I know Kauffman Tire will repair a flat for free, and that applies to anyone, not just people who have bought tires from them.

16 SteveW November 7, 2008 at 6:12 am

I don’t understand what you mean about putting a “block” on the opposite tire. Do you mean to set something on top of it?

17 Adam November 7, 2008 at 6:24 am

Solid article, I was thinking ‘i wonder if he’ll say…” then 2 seconds later I’d read it. You may have saved a lot of guys here, ’cause there’s nothing more un-manly than not being able to change a tire haha. How about a change the oil article? I still know some people that don’t know how that works.

18 John of Indiana November 7, 2008 at 7:11 am

Many years ago, when I wasn’t really “better off than I was 4 years ago”, I had so much practice changing the $20 used tyres that I wore down to the strings that I had a personal best one rainy night of under 8 minutes.

My SO’s BIL, supposedly a mechanic, drove his car 8 miles on the rim and left it at her place because he couldn’t get the lugnutz loose (so he says, I think it’s because he’s stupid and lazy)

19 Dann November 7, 2008 at 7:31 am

Good article.
Learning to change a tire is a must for all men and young men.
You covered everything necessary to change a flat — once it has gone flat.
I would add a few preventative measures.

Periodically check the air pressure in your tires and inspect the condition of the tread. Under or Over inflated tires is probably the #1 cause of tire failure.
And while you are checking tire pressures, check the pressure in the spare also.
There is nothing worse than having a flat and pulling out a flat spare from the trunk..

Read your owners manual BEFORE you have to change a flat. Every vehicle has different jacking points and the spares are not always located where you think.
My wife’s Caravan has the spare located under the vehicle between the front seats. You have to lower it from inside the van. It amazes me how many people have never even opened the owners manual for their car. People will spend $300 on a new camera and read every page of the manual, but will spend $30,000 on a car and never even look at it.

Practice changing a tire in your driveway when you get a new vehicle. This is a great activity for you and your son (or daughter).

Keep the great article and comments coming. Great site.

20 Barry November 7, 2008 at 8:05 am

Your article covers the step of loosening the lug nuts before jacking the car. It is easy to forget. But if you try to loosen them with the tire off the ground, the tire will spin (if it is a front tire).

Also note that you should not try limp along on a flat tire. Often a tire can be repaired if it is not driven on. It is also quite easy to damage the rim that way.

21 Steve November 7, 2008 at 8:56 am

Make sure not too tighten the nuts too hard. When I was younger (16) my buddy helped me change multiple flats (2 slashed tires, I was pissed), tightened the nuts too tight and stripped the lugs. Had to replace them and it wasn’t cheap.

They need to be tight, but not to the point where you strip the lugs.

22 Cardo November 7, 2008 at 2:34 pm

The block on the opposite side helps keep the car from moving, especially when you have a drive wheel off the ground.
Also, especially if its your wife or daughter, remember that a steel rim costs about $20 from the junk yard and it might be better to have them drive on it to a safe place to get off the freeway, especially in bad weather or bad neighborhoods, instead of getting into trouble. There is no law in my state against driving on a flat as long as you do it safe (4 ways, low speed out of the traffic flow as much as you can) instead of worrying about getting hurt.

I wouldn’t recommend this for aluminum or more expensive rims. (just my disclaimer).

23 Joel November 7, 2008 at 5:18 pm

One other thing that wasn’t mentioned, but is quite important, is to regularly check the condition of the spare. I’ve been personally caught out by this once, and been caught out again in a friend’s car. In both cases, the car had been bought second-hand, and the spare was very badly worn, probably because the previous owner was just being cheap and just replaced a worn tire with the spare. In my friend’s case, the spare was so worn that the canvas was showing, absolutely not road legal. In my case, the spare was not as bad, but still looked pretty bad, still probably not road legal. Luckily that flat was in the carpark at work, and it wasn’t right at the end of the day, so I took a work car to the closest garage and got them to replace it on the spot.

The other point is that “manly strength” isn’t really required to get lug nuts off if you are having trouble, just smart application of physics. Most vehicles come with a L shaped lug wrench, making smart application of physics easy. Just attach the wrench to the lug nut with the handle parallel (or close to parallel) to the ground, and pointing to the left as you are facing the wheel. Then stand on the lug wrench with one foot, and do a bit of bouncing with all your weight. It should move, but be very careful you don’t fall over once it suddenly moves. I don’t think this method would be suitable for the older X shaped lug wrenches, as there is a possibility that the weld in the middle may break, leaving you probably injured, with the nut still in place, and without a lug wrench.

24 Ales November 8, 2008 at 1:51 am

See either:

Titán Exhaust , gato de coche , inflable: http://tinyurl.com/6fh7e8
Titan Exhaust, ‘cat car’, inflatable: http://tinyurl.com/5mlp6k

25 Ales November 8, 2008 at 1:52 am

And this other nice thing: http://tinyurl.com/6za2wv

26 Ryan November 8, 2008 at 7:02 pm

I don’t think this was mentioned…

The jack that comes with your car is lousy and not 100% safe, protect yourself and your rotors and when mounting the spare lay the wheel you just removed under the sill of the car so that if the jack collapses the car will land on the wheel and not you.

27 KJ November 8, 2008 at 7:40 pm

Keeping a short length of steel pipe (2-3ft) that fits over the handle of the lug wrench can be a huge help in breaking the lugs free, since it gives you a longer lever to work with. It’s especially nice if you have one of those short little 8-inch lug wrenches that makes it hard to get good leverage.

If you have the cross-shaped lug wrench, push down on the one side and pull up on the other. It’s much more effective than pushing or pulling alone.

If you change the wheels on your car, be sure your lug wrench fits into the new wheels. When I went from steel wheels to aluminum ones, I didn’t think to be check and make sure that the lug wrench I had with my spare would fit inside the holes my lugnuts were recessed into. Got a flat tire at work. It didn’t fit. Whoops.

A piece of plywood that’s about a square foot or so is awfully nice to have in the trunk in case you’ve got to change the tire in mud/sand/etc.

Changing the oil: Nice to know, not a required manly skill. When you add in the cost of the oil, the cost of the filter, and the cost and irritation of disposing of the old oil properly, the money saved by changing my own oil is so little that I’d rather just get it done at Wal-Mart or Jiffy Lube and spare myself the trouble.

28 Willy November 9, 2008 at 3:46 pm

I would contend that cars with hubcaps are inherently unmanly. And don’t start about price. There are plenty of VERY cheap vehicles that don’t have hubcaps.

29 Uberhack November 10, 2008 at 8:33 am

My wife once insisted that she would have an easier time changing a flat tire than I would. I called “Bravo Sierra” (BS), she called Triple A.

30 Peter the Great November 10, 2008 at 7:36 pm

To “block” a tire is to chock the tire, i.e., to wedge something between the curve of the tread and the ground on a “good” tire, to keep the wheel from turning, and consequently, the car from falling off the jack, a very unwelcome and possibly injurious occurrence. Always chock a tire, on the side you expect the car might roll. A fist-sized rock makes a good ad-hoc chock.

Setting the parking brake is a good idea, esp. to keep a rear wheel from turning as you attempt to break loose the lugs on a small, light car, where there is no engine weight to create the needed friction and leaving the car in gear is not enough. That made the difference for me once.

The coverall may be over-doing things, but a pair of gloves is a great idea. I always have a tube of hand cleaner in the trunk. The difference between accomplishing a task and accomplishing it with style is the Art of Manliness.

31 Peter November 19, 2008 at 7:56 am

@Alex – If you haven’t been using the star pattern and just heard about it you probably shouldn’t touch you car.. That’s best for safety

32 Parsley November 22, 2008 at 1:46 pm

I was taught how to change a tyre as a child but I once had to do it in complete darkness. The only light was the occasional headlights of passing cars. The tyre was changed successfully but I took all the skin off my knuckles in the process. Always carry a good torch!

33 fathersez December 7, 2008 at 1:37 am

Yes, a neccessity. Many of our driving schools pass off drivers who don’t know how to change tires. I have only had to change it once (thank God) and it was quite a task.

The second time, a young man passing by on a bike stopped and changed the tires for us. God Bless him.

Cheers

34 Rebecca December 16, 2008 at 6:29 am

My tire has a flat today from a pothole in the road. I woud like to say that I am indeed a woman and my trunk is clean. I will be changing my tire in 20minutes with no man help :P

35 Sean May 19, 2009 at 3:16 pm

A good recommendation i have from experience is to keep a hammer in your car (preferably a ball peen or claw) so that if your tire is stuck on there a good hit will loosen it. so long as you hit the rubber portion and stay away from the rim of the wheel. if you don’t have a hammer around, a large stick will do.

36 R. J. Vincent August 12, 2009 at 3:41 pm

I’ve had to change a tire or two in my time. I keep a cross wrench, a couple of pieces of 2×4 to block the opposite wheel and a pair of Mechanix™ gloves. These are available at your local Pep Boys or other auto store or directly from the company online. They’re the same gloves used by most of the race teams so for the occasional user they’re perfect. They’re comfortable and more importantly, they save your knuckles. I also keep a set of jumper cables, a fire extinguisher and some rope, bungee cords and a few tools as well in the trunk. I also keep a flashlight (or two) and a multi-tool and a small folding knife in the glove box along with one of those survival hammers in the console. It may sound like overkill but if you’ve ever driven in the Philadelphia/South Jersey area, you’ll understand why.

37 Gregg October 9, 2009 at 10:23 am

I hope everyone has a car with a BIG trunk to fit all the suggested items to carry. I’m going to add to that list though. When my daughters received their driver license, I took them outside and made them change a tire by themselves before they got behind the wheel alone. This made them feel more confident as well as giving me just a little more peace of mind when they backed out of the garage armed with a real driver license. I purchased both girls a cross type lug wrench and something we don’t have a big use for in South Texas. Each got a raincoat and those yellow rain pants. Just the cheap ones they sell in drug stores. Nothing fancy. Obviously it helps keep you dry but it also makes your easier to see. We don’t get a lot of rain here so most people don’t know how to drive in the rain and having something that makes you more visible helps. By the way, my youngest had a flat in a light drizzle and she actually put those things on. Staying dry was more important than being seen in a yellow rain suit. The last thing on my list is just something I told them about. I was stuck on the side of I-10 at 2:00am with a flat just outside of Baton Rouge, LA. The trucks were flying by with only a few feet separating us. I called the LA Highway Patrol and they sent a trooper to sit behind me with his flashing lights on. It took them awhile to get to me but it was worth it. Having those trucks slow down and move over a lane was a little more comforting. My son is an officer and he agreed with what I did. He wishes more would call them as far too many people are hit while they are changing a tire . Of course if it’s a busy night for them you fall wayyyyy down on their priority list so just understand that when you call and don’t give the officer attitude when they arrive a few hours later….and to RJ Vincent about your post. I grew up in Philly and South Jersey and I know exactly what you’re talking about!!! Your list is perfect.

38 Uncle B October 10, 2009 at 11:04 am

What kind of problems will the new Electrics pose for changing flat tires?

39 Judy November 27, 2009 at 7:42 pm

When I was 16 and wanting to leave house with brand new license, I had to change a tire before I left the driveway. No amount of whining and pleading got me out of this. I also had to learn to check oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, how to drain and fill radiator. My dad said one day you will be glad you learned. I have changed a few tires, the last one was on our 4 wheel drive truck and hubby was unable to do it.(diabetic, low sugar). I’m pushing 60 now and wish all young men and women would learn these things.
PS…..I can also do plumbing!

40 Dan December 19, 2009 at 3:18 pm

couple of other tips, fwiw…

keep one of those bright LED headlamps in your glove box because when the tire goes flat, Murphy’s Law says it’l be dark out and you’ll want to work fast with both hands free.

keep a pair of work gloves and a utility blanket/towel in the car too so you can keep clean and dry and not ruin your night out with your wife.

as for wives and daughters and their safety when alone, i keep a can of that aerosol flat tire foam in the car so they can use it in a pinch and get on the road quickly without having to wait for help.

in addition to changing a tire, every man should know how to put on tire chains very fast in a nighttime snowstorm on the side of the interstate. it happens where i live all the time.

41 Jeremy March 5, 2010 at 4:06 am

I feel like I was born knowing how to change a tire, it’s hard to think there are people out there who really just have no clue. Hmmm…

42 Slainte March 20, 2010 at 7:05 pm

WHAT!!?? What!!?? What is this article doing here? Is this site for men trying to enhance and perfect their manliness or is it a “How to” site for women who want to be men?
I’m ok – double ok in fact – with women knowing how to fix a flat tire. For that matter chics that can whistle with two fingers, keep a program at a baseball game, even throw a “spiral” is great.

But that’s not the point.

By the time a boy is old enough to figure out how to find this web page he should already KNOW HOW to change and rotate tires AND check the pressure. He should also at least know how to change the oil and replace the windshield washer fluid. Men should be teaching their daughters how to do these things before they get their drivers permit. It’s much safer and if she’s on the side of the road she’ll be thankful her dad was “man enough” to teach her these things instead of leaving her at the mercy of some “helpful” stranger.

It’s a great site gentlemen but please – changing a tire? Show me how to hot wire a car or something a little more useful.

Thanks

43 Gene July 24, 2010 at 6:00 pm

When you jack the car up it will tilt it so it will want to roll away from the jack, especially if it’s a bumper jack. Also, if jacking the rear, the opposite side will also lose some traction so the parking brake may not be effective. If jacking the right rear, chock the front of the left front tire so the car doesn’t roll forward. I have used 12 volt compressors, and tire plugs ( I like the ones from Neallys) to fix a puncture in a tire and pump it up without even removing the tire. That’s if you can catch it before it goes completely flat.

Also, use good anti seize on the threads if you want to ease the removal of the lug nuts. You can reduce tightening torque by 10% too. This sure worked well on my motor home that was supposed to tightened to 450 to 500 foot lbs. That’s the equivalent of a 500 pound pull on a one foot lever, or 250 on a two foot. I used a four foot cheater.

44 Chris March 6, 2013 at 6:38 pm

I have (unfortunately) plenty of experience with this, and I am proud to say I can change a tire in about 10 minutes. And, from experience, if you don’t want a flat tire, remember to check your tire pressure (find what it should be in your car’s manual) about every month, if not more often.

Oh, one more thing. Invest in a good scissor jack. Your factory one might do ok in a pinch, but (again, coming from experience), if you forget to put on your brake and your car rolls when you jack it up, it falls on your jack and bends the hell out of it. So 1. Remember to ALWAYS put your brake on, and 2. have a spare jack.

45 Tony Rovere August 20, 2013 at 8:45 pm

I was always taught by my father that you must slide the “5th tire”…either the spare or the flat tire…underneath the car while it is on the jack.

This way if the car falls off the jack it will land on that tire and you can jack it up again.

Dad’s advice came in handy when I broke down on a highway with cobblestone as the shoulder of the road.

It was uneven and in attempting to jack the car up the car did slowly tip off the jack.

Fortunately because of Dad’s advice I was able to re-jack the car up without need of a tow truck.

46 Chris Jones September 20, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Enjoyed reading this post. Personally I feel too many people now-a-days don’t know how to do things such as change a flat tire or change their own oil. What’s going to happen to them if they get stuck on the side of the highway with a spare and no one can come for another 3-4 hours? S.O.L I guess, but they should try to avoid that.

Reminds me of a funny How-to guide on changing a tire that I read the other day though: http://baconsmores.com/diy/changing-a-flat-tire-how-to-guide/

PS – Here’s a good question: If you live where it is hilly and full of mountains, where do you find the flat surface? ;-)

47 JPulford April 10, 2014 at 3:24 am

Tonight I had to change my first flat tire. Living in Colorado I usually change my own tires twice a year (I have a separate set of rims for studded tires) so changing the rim was easy. However I was not used to using the screw-jack that, as far as I know, hasn’t been used since a Chrysler employee put it under the seat of my Jeep Grand Cherokee back in 1993. I’d say the biggest worries were the safety of the factory jack as well as the effort needed to raise the car compared to the hydraulic floor jack I’m used to using. Not having pneumatic tools was also quite the pain in the ass.

Anyone who owns a car should know how to check and change fluids and check tire pressure. Really, anything related to what is covered in the owner’s manual isn’t worth seeking a mechanic as long as sufficient tools (or anything you can jury-rig) are available.

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