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How to Change a Flat Tire if You Break Down on the Road

flat-tire

If you have to change a flat tire while driving in Indiana, it’s not only a pain, but also a safety risk. Below is a general overview of the supplies you’ll need to change the tire, information about staying safe while you’re on the side of the road, and steps to change the tire.

Equipment to Change a Tire

First things first, to change a flat tire on a car you’ll need the right equipment. Keep the following in your car:

  • Jack
  • Spare tire
  • Tire iron
  • Blocks to prevent car from rolling
  • Rags
  • Work gloves
  • Triangle reflectors or flashing safety lights
  • Car owners manual (the car manual contains specifics for changing tires on your car)
  • Flashlight and back-up batteries

Safety Steps While on the Side of the Road

Knowing how to change your flat tire can get you moving quicker than if you have to wait for assistance. But make sure you are safe while doing so.

Some general safety steps for if you break down include:

  • Pull over safely to the side of the road, out of traffic.
  • Put on your flashers no matter the time of day.
  • Call a friend or family member to let them know you broke down and where you are. Make sure somebody you trust knows what happened and where you are, and if you need help, ask for it or call a towing service or roadside assistance service.
  • Set your emergency brake. Your emergency brake must be set if you want to change the tire.
  • Set up safety flashers and triangle reflectors. Triangle reflectors make good back-ups for safety flashers as they don’t require batteries, so keep them as back-ups.  Place them around your work area.

Steps to Change a Flat Tire

Changing a tire is a practical skill that everybody should know. Sure, help is usually a phone call away, but in an emergency – and if help can’t get to you – knowing how to change the tire can be especially important.

Also, you can only use a jack on a flat, hard surface. Otherwise, you risk the car falling. If you don’t have a jack or can’t use it for whatever reason, call for assistance. Be sure you refer to your owner’s manual for more vehicle-specific instructions.

Below are general steps to changing your tire:

  • Wedge blocks or other objects under both sides of the tires on the opposite end of the vehicle (e.g., if changing a rear tire, place blocks around a front tire, and vice versa).
  • Take out your equipment and place it nearby.
  • Unlock the wheel lock keys, if applicable.
  • Loosen the lug nuts with the tire iron in a counterclockwise motion, but don’t remove them yet.
  • Refer to the owner’s manual to learn where to place the jack. This should be a sturdy part of the frame – beware of placing it under a plastic panel that will crack (this can damage your vehicle and the vehicle may fall once elevated).
  • Once located, position the jack under the car and begin to jack it up just enough that you can remove the tire. Turn the knob on the end of the jack until the jack hits the car frame and the tire lifts off the ground.
  • Remove lug nuts from the tire by hand or with the tire iron and remove the tire.
  • Put the spare onto the wheel stud bolts. Use your finger to tighten the lugs, and then tighten them only slightly at this point using the tire iron.
  • Lower the jack until the spare tire is on the ground. You do this by turning the jack handle.
  • Tighten the lugs again with the tire iron to ensure the wheel doesn’t move around. Tighten the lug nut at the top of the wheel first, then tighten one across from it, and then tighten one across from the second lug nut, and so on – many refer to this as tightening in a star pattern.
  • Collect all the equipment and put it back in the car.
  • Drive to your car dealer or the closest tire shop as soon as possible. You should not drive on a spare for a long period of time.

Maintaining your tires can help reduce the event of an accident. But if you’ve been injured in a wreck in Indiana, refer to Hensley Legal Group’s Consumer’s Guide for Injury Victims.