This weekend we traveled to the Nevada desert and were probably going a bit too fast on a dirt road. All it takes is a sharp rock and BOOM there goes your tire which is exactly what happened.
Fortunately it was the rear tire and after the blowout we came to a quick stop. That didn’t keep the rim from getting messed up as it was dented on a couple edges.
We’ve got a full-size spare so after assessing the damage we went to work on changing the flat tire. We were in the middle of the desert so AAA was not a viable option. Here are the basic steps to changing a flat tire. Instructions will vary based on the type of jack you have and where your spare is located.
1. Assess the Situation
After you’ve come to a safe stop make sure you are pulled off to the side of the road as far as you can and if you have them place orange safety triangles or cones behind you or raise your hood to signal to other motorists that you have broken down so they slow down.
2. Remove the Spare Tire and Jack
Spare tires are typically located in a well in the trunk beneath the carpet. The jack and tire iron will be there as well. In some vehicles the spare tire is located in the rear storage area or under the vehicle or attached to the rear door. It’s best to periodically check your spare for air and any tire damage such as rot.
3. Remove the Flat Tire
I’ve found it’s best to loosen the lug nuts first before lifting the tire off the ground. You can pull with more force without worrying about the vehicle falling off the jack or the wheel moving.
4. Raise the Vehicle
After the nuts are loose then follow your vehicle manufacturers instructions and raise the car. Place chock blocks in front or back and put the emergency brake on before raising the car. Make sure the ground below the jack is solid and not at an angle.
Hydraulic lifts will require you engage the jack by turning a bottom switch to the right. Then when you pump the jack it will raise. When you are done you simply turn the switch to the left and it will release the jack and the car will lower.
5. Attach the Spare
If you have a full-size spare you are in better shape and will be able to maintain normal speeds but with a small spare you need to change it and get to a garage as soon as possible. Hand tighten the lug nuts but there is no need to over tighten.
6. Keep the Flat Tire
You’ll need to reuse the rim (if it’s reusable) so make sure you put your flat tire in the same place your spare was.
7. Go to a Garage
Don’t procrastinate and get your car into a garage. You’ll need to put a regular sized tire on as soon as possible.
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Founder/EIC at Charles & Hudson
Timothy’s background includes stints at This Old House, ELLE DECOR, Metropolitan Home and Woman’s Day. His work has been published on Wired Design, Bob Vila, DIY Network, The Family Handyman and Popular Mechanics and he has been featured on the Martha Stewart radio show and as a speaker at the ALT Design Summit, K/BIS and the National Hardware Show.