So you’re driving along, not a care in the world, when all of a sudden the road gets a little bumpy. And lumpy. And swervy. You’ve got a flat tire. What do you do?
Getting Ready to Change a Tire
Once you’re in a safe location, you have to assess whether or not it’s safe to try and change the tire yourself. You need to consider:
- Is the ground stable? If it’s grass, or sand, or anything that isn’t 100% solid, you should not try to change your tire.
- Is the ground level? If the ground is uneven or hilly, it’s very dangerous to attempt to change your tire.
You also need to concern yourself with the traffic. If, for example, your tire blows out on the freeway, and you pull over to the shoulder, and there are cars zipping past, it’s risky to change your tire – especially if it’s on the left side of your car. You can set out traffic comes or flares if you have them, and they might provide you with enough space, but if you feel at all uncomfortable, you should call AAA or a tow truck.
Setting Up for Changing a Tire
If the ground is level and even, and you have plenty of room, you can move on to the next step.
- Put the car in Park
- Apply the parking brake
- Chock the tires with a rock or piece of wood
Take the jack out of your car (you have a jack in your car, right?) and place it under the frame close to the tire that needs replacing. Double check to ensure that the jack is going to make contact with the metal of the frame.
DO NOT PLACE YOURSELF UNDER THE CAR IN ANY WAY!
Swap out the Flat Tire for the Spare
Once the lug nuts are loosened, raise the car jack until the flat tire is hovering slightly above the ground. Remove the lugs by hand, and putt off the flat. Place it under the car, so that if the car jack collapses, the car will fall onto the old wheel, and prevent an injury.
Next, slide the spare tire on, and hand-tighten the lug nuts. When they are no longer able to turn by hand, finish the job with your wrench.
- Tighten the lug nuts evenly and diagonally, rather than one at a time, to ensure that they are all equally tight.
Lower the jack until the spare tire is touching the ground, and give the lug nuts a final tightening.
Be prepared for a flat tire (Toyota service tips)
Flat tires are one of the biggest reasons why a car breaks down so it’s smart to be prepared! We believe that every driver on the road should know how to change their own Charlotte car tires in case of an emergency because roadside assistance could take hours to get to you. If our Toyota Service Center isn’t assisting you, you’ll need to make sure that you have to proper tools.
What you need:
- A spare tire
- A lug wrench
- A jack
We also recommend having:
- A flashlight
- A tire gauge
- Fix-a-flat (for a temporary fix)
- An air pump
Once you have the proper supplies, you’re ready to change your flat. Remember that you can always have the professionals at our Charlotte Toyota Service Center fix your tire for you. But if you’re in a pinch and you want to try it yourself, here’s what to do:
- Make sure your vehicle is on a flat surface
Don’t drive on a flat tire! One you notice that one of your vehicle’s tires have blown, try to get off of the road as soon as you can. Our Toyota Service Center in Charlotte suggests that you pull into a gas station if you’re close to one. If not, pull over to a flat surface on the side of the road. This will significantly decrease the chance that your vehicle falls off the jack.
Loosen up the lug nuts on your tire before you get it off the ground. You’ll need to take off your tire’s hubcap to get to them. Once they’re exposed, place the lug wrench on them and strongly turn the wrench counter-clockwise.
Next, you’re going to place the car jack underneath your vehicle and make sure it’s resting on a sturdy part of the frame. You can check out N Charlotte Toyota’s owner’s manual to see exactly where you should place it. After that, you’re going to crank away until your vehicle is high enough off the ground to change your flat tire.
Once the vehicle is up on the jack, remove the lug nuts from the damaged tire. Now you can take off the old tire, replace it with the spare tire, and put the lug nuts back on. Make sure that you put the nuts back on as tight as possible – you don’t want to have a flyaway when you’re on the road!
So, how do I change a tire?
It’s actually easier than you might think, especially given the typical Hollywood portrayal of changing a tire as a tedious, possibly painful process. If you are unsure, please refer to your owner’s manual first. Following these five steps will have you back on the road in no time.
- Get the vehicle to a level, firm surface – To change a tire, you’ll have to raise the car using a jack, a task that is virtually impossible on soft ground (the weight of the vehicle will merely push the jack into the dirt instead of lifting the car). Concrete is ideal, though asphalt will usually work. If there is no hard surface available, a useful trick is to put a piece of scrap wood under the jack. Never raise a vehicle on a surface that isn’t level. Once the vehicle is where you want it, engage the parking brake, and take out your spare tire, jack and tire wrench (in many vehicles, the tire wrench will serve double duty as the jack handle).
- Release the lugnuts – Before you jack up the vehicle, you must get the lug nuts loose, or the wheel will just spin when you actually try to take it off. With the wheel still on the ground, use your tire wrench to get the lug nuts (the bolts that hold the wheel on) turning. Don’t loosen them too much, just enough that you can easily turn them once you get the car up.
- Jack up the vehicle – Most passenger vehicles are equipped with a car jack, usually located with the spare tire. There are various types of jacks, so consult your vehicle manual for specific instructions, but regardless of the particular jack mechanism, you’ll want to place it directly under the chassis (the solid metal structure of the vehicle that everything is attached to). Most vehicles have easily identifiable places on the chassis for the jack. Never put the jack under fiberglass or thin metal. You won’t like the results! Operate the jack until the flat tire is well off the ground (you have to ensure there is enough clearance for the non-flat spare).
- Replace the tire – Once the tire is off the ground, loosen the lug nuts the rest of the way and put them somewhere they won’t roll away or get lost. Pull the flat tire off and put it away. Take the spare tire and carefully put it on the bolts. This step can be a lot easier with a helper. Once the tire is on, put the lug nuts on the bolts and hand tighten them (making sure to hold the tire in place while doing so).
- Lower the vehicle – Carefully lower the jack, according to its particular instructions, and once the tire is firmly resting on the ground, use the tire wrench to tighten the lug nuts the rest of the way. Tighten them until you can’t get them to turn anymore. Go ahead and put everything away and give the vehicle a good visual once over to ensure that everything looks in order.
Need help changing or fixing your flat tire? Book a service appointment and we’ll get you back on the road fast. We carry a huge selection of brand new tires from all the top tire brand names and we have competitive prices on all-season tires and winter tires. Our service advisors can give you professional advice and tips on tire maintenance.