Editor’s note: This article was originally published on November 6, 2008. We’ve updated it with images.
Flat tires always seem to come at inconvenient times, but you can easily change a flat.
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.