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How To Change A Flat Tire

by Ruby Bayan

What is a flat tire?

Although revolutionary tires now boast of the capability to remain inflated and run up to 50 miles from the moment they are punctured, most tires still lose air pressure and collapse immediately after being ruptured.

Why is changing a flat tire important?

One of the basic rules in driving safely is to make sure that all of your tires maintain equal, prescribed air pressure. A deflated or flattened tire will make you lose control of your vehicle. Furthermore, running flat is detrimental not only to the tire itself, but also to the wheel, joints, brakes, and alignment. It is, therefore, essential that you change a flat tire before you drive any further.


  1. As soon as you sense a flat tire, turn on your hazard lights. Pull over to a safe area or shoulder, well away from onrushing traffic. Engage the parking brake and switch off the ignition.

  2. Take out the spare tire, jack, jack handle, and lug wrench. Depending on the type of vehicle, the tools would be located in the trunk or under one of the back seats. The spare tire would be in the trunk, secured under the vehicle, or attached to the rear door.

  3. If your wheel has a hubcap, pry it off with the jack handle.

  4. With the lug wrench, loosen (do not remove yet) all the lug nuts by turning the wrench counter-clockwise.

  5. Place the jack directly under the vehicle's jack point or jack notch. This is the specific area of the vehicle's frame, just behind the wheel joint, where the jack should be positioned to properly hoist the flat tire, off the ground. If you are not certain where the jack notch is, refer to your vehicle's owner's manual.

  6. Ensure that the jack is stable and rests securely on the ground. Raise the jack to hook with the vehicle's jack notch. Double check on stability and alignment.

  7. Continue to raise the jack gently until the tire is about an inch or two off the ground.

  8. Unscrew all the lug nuts off.

  9. Grasp the flat tire and yank it off the bolts.

  10. Mount the spare tire and screw the lug nuts on. Hand-tighten all the lug nuts.

  11. Lower the jack, and the car, to the ground. Unhook and remove the jack.

  12. With the lug wrench, turning clockwise, tighten the lug nuts alternately. By alternately tightening the nuts, you ensure that the wheel is attached properly and securely.

  13. Load the flat tire into the trunk, and store the tools in their proper places.

  14. Drive to the nearest tire shop or full service gas station to have the flat tire repaired and re-installed.

[First published at, 2000]


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