the average driver will experience five flat tires over the course of their motoring lifetime — and an estimated 1 in 5 american drivers don't even know how to change a tire.
but don't worry — i got you.
the three essential things you'll need are a jack, a lug wrench and, of course, a spare tire. you're also going to want to pull out your owner's manual. we're going to show you our best practices, but remember that there's no substitute for your automaker's recommendations.
- once you detect the flat, turn on your emergency flashers, slow down and find a safe, level place to stop.
- put your parking brake on to prevent a rollaway, and have all passengers exit.
- remove your hubcaps using a flat-headed tool; this may require a special tool, so consult your owner's manual to be sure.
- loosen the lug nuts before jacking the car up. give it all you've got to break the lugs loose, but don't loosen them much — just enough so you can take it easy once your car is on the jack.
- there are different kinds of jacks stored in different places in different kinds of cars, so again, familiarize yourself with your manual in advance.
- place the jack on your manual's recommended jack point, often marked. the jack point will be a flat, metal area of the car's frame near the flat tire (not the body, which won't likely support the car's weight.)
- jack the car up just enough to let you slide the tire off, and keep all body parts out from underneath the car while it's jacked up.
- finish loosening the lugs, and keep them in a safe place.
- pull the flat tire off and replace it with your spare — which likely will be a smaller temporary tire, or "doughnut."
- hand-tighten the lugs, then give them a quarter turn with the wrench while the car is still jacked.
- now lower the car slowly until the jack slides easily out, and finish tightening the lugs in a crisscross pattern; don't try to be thor here, just tighten the lugs so they feel equally snug and require some elbow grease to break loose again.
boom! you're back on your way. one more important thing to bear in mind: that temporary spare tire is just that, temporary; most doughnuts are meant to be driven at no more than 50 mph or so, and no further than 100 miles — so doughnut procrastinate — have your tire patched or replaced asap.
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