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Posted on by Defensive Driving Team | in Defensive Driving Online

Changing a spare tire is not as daunting as it may seem. All you need is the right equipment and a bit of brute strength. Bear in mind that your car’s instruction manual will have directions on how to change a spare. You should consult this manual before changing a tire in order to ensure that you are following the correct procedure for your particular model.

To change a tire, you’ll need:
• A spare tire, obviously. Most, although not all, cars will carry the spare tire under the floor of the trunk. You should check the pressure in your spare when checking your tire pressure. Nothing is more disheartening than pulling over to fix a flat and realizing that your spare tire is flat as well.
• A lug wrench (also known as a tire iron.)
• A car jack
• A wheel chock, large stone, or brick.

As soon as you notice a flat, begin looking for a hard, level surface, away from the road, where you can change the tire. Once you have located such a surface, safely pull over, don’t panic and make a dangerous lane change.

After pulling over, put your car into park (automatic) or first gear (manual.) Apply your parking brake and turn on your emergency lights. If you are near a busy road, you may also want to raise your hood, to let people know that you have stopped to make a repair.

Next, place the stone or wheel chock against the wheel diagonally opposite the wheel you are going to change; for example, if you are changing the left rear wheel, place the chock against the right front wheel. If you are on a slight downward incline, place the chock in front of the wheel; place the chock behind the wheel if you are on an upward incline.

Now, place the jack underneath your car on the side that the flat is on. Most recent models of car will have notches on the underside of the car near both the front and rear wheels to indicate where the jack should be placed. Consult your owner’s manual if you are in doubt as to where to place the jack, and make sure that the jack is making contact with the metal underside of the car and not a plastic frame.

Raise the jack until it is supporting the car. DON’T raise the wheel off the ground at this point. If you try to loosen the lug nuts while the tire is off the ground, you’ll just spin the tire.
Remove the hubcap and begin to loosen the lug nut. As with most things you turn the lug nuts counterclockwise (to the left) to loosen them. Remember: right, tight, left, loose.

Throughout this process, you should loosen, and tighten, the lug nuts in a star pattern. Don’t tighten or loosen the bolts all at once. Instead, loosen each one slightly, moving in a star pattern; start with one, loosen it a bit, then loosen the one across from it, then the one across from that one, etc. Once you’re back to the first nut, loosen them all a bit more.

At this stage, you just want to loosen the lug nuts slightly. This can be quite difficult; if you don’t bench press regularly, you may need to throw your weight against the wrench, or even jump on it. Just be sure you are turning the wrench in the right direction.
Once the nuts are loosened, it’s time to lift the wheel off the ground. After making sure that the jack is level and the car is steady, raise the jack until the wheel is four to six inches off the ground. Once the wheel is off the ground, finish loosening, and then removing, the lug nuts, continuing to loosen them bit by bit in the star pattern described above.

Once the wheel is off, lay it flat underneath the car, just in case the car body falls. Now, you need to fit the spare tire onto the wheel studs. Remember that the side with the air valve should be facing outwards.

Reattach the lug nuts and begin to tighten them, using the same technique that you used to loosen them. At this point, you want to tighten them just until the tire is snug against the wheel hub. Once the tire is attached, lower the wheel back to the ground and remove the jack. Finish tightening the lug nuts; they should be as tightened down as you can get them. Once you’re down with this, you should be good to go!

To learn more about this topic, or a broad range of subjects from “How To Change A Tire” to “How To Jumpstart Your Battery”, visit DefensiveDriving.com’s Safe Driver Resources website!

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