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Flat Changing Made Easy or.. Who Needs AAA?

Updated August 12, 2014

It seems like when I was a kid, whenever something broke, my father or grandfather knew how to fix it, or they would at least try. They also had a tool for just about every job imaginable.  These days it seems like fewer and fewer people seem to have the “do it yourself” know how, even with something as simple as changing a flat. Sure you might have AAA, but you might have a flat in the middle of nowhere as well. Here is a quick guide to help you.

If you do have a flat, the very first thing you want to do is get off the road. While some tires have run flat technology, most still do not. Ideally you want an empty parking lot but at the very least get onto the side of the road. Make sure the car is between you and the road. Never change your tire with your back facing traffic even if you have to get off and turn around.

Next pull your emergency brake. This will guarantee your car won’t move while on the jack. Next, if it is dark or weather hinders visibility, then turn on your hazards. DON’T lock your keys in the car! If you have a flare you might consider using it.  Now pull out your jack, wrench and spare tire.

There are numerous types of jacks but they all basically work on the same principle. Some might have a handle to turn while others require you to stick the end of the lug wrench in it to act as a pump. You might have to play with it a bit to figure it out exactly.

Once you do figure it out, place the jack under the ground. It should be on the inside side of the car, not on the outside near the bumpers. Always place the jack under the metal frame. DO NOT place it under the fiberglass body because the lift might crack it or worse, the car might collapse off of it. Many cars have a notch to place the jack under. Once in place crank it up. Be sure to lift it high enough off the ground so that the new tire can slide on with no problem.

If the lug nuts are tight this next part could be tricky. Take the wrench and place the socket over a nut. Turn it enough to loosen a little bit. Stop and do the opposite nut until it is loose. Continue with the others in the same manner. Do not take the nuts all the way off yet or it will create torque on the tire. Once they are all loosened a bit, then you can finish unscrewing them all. Finally slide the flat of the screws. Be sure NOT to lose any of the lug nuts!

Now you are ready to place the new tire on. Line it up with the screws and place it on. Do the exact same thing with the nuts that you did to take them off. Use the wrench to tighten one about half way, and then do the opposite nut. Once all nuts are on half way or so, use the wrench to tighten them all as much as you can.

Now lower the jack down. You might have to flip a switch to reverse the pump or you might just turn it in the opposite direction. Either way, lower the jack until the car is on the ground. Place your gear back in the truck and get in the car.  Turn off the hazards, release the break, and go brag to your friends about how you changed a tire all by yourself!
-Jeff Jordan lives and sometimes fixes his car in Southern California. He writes about automobiles, education and volcanoes. One place to find a reliable used car is Enterprise Car Sales.

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Calvin Escobar
About Calvin Escobar

The Car scene is so diverse Where I come from, most enthusiasts recognize the amazing engineering (particularly the engines). The bulk of the ridicule originates from the manner in which many of the vehicles are modded/maintained. Thus, the jokes and or hate tends to be aimed more at the owner rather than the machine. All of which makes seeing properly sorted old Toyota's and Hondas at car meets, auto shows, and track days all the more refreshing.

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