When you get a flat tire, you don't need to be the helpless person on the side of the road waiting to be rescued. John Nielsen, director of auto repair services at AAA, describes how to safely change a car tire.
Level of difficulty: Medium
Tools: Owners manual; spare tire (be sure you have a healthy one in the trunk); lug wrench; jack; towel and cotton gloves (optional; it's a dirty job).
1. Make sure you're well off the roadway and on a level, firm surface such as asphalt or concrete. Do not try to change a tire on a hill or soft surface like dirt or grass, because the jack could slip. Put on your hazard lights, and apply the emergency parking brake.
2. Using the lug wrench, loosen the lug nuts on the flat tire, but don't remove them completely. If you have a hubcap on the wheel, you'll have to remove that first, using the screwdriver-type tool on the opposite end of the lug wrench.
3. Install the jack under the car according to recommendations in the owners manual, which is usually in the glove compartment. Putting a jack in the wrong place could be ineffective or cause damage. Usually it goes under the frame near the flat tire.
4. Crank the jack's handle until the flat tire is 2 inches off the ground.
5. Finish taking off the lug nuts, and set them somewhere you won't lose them.
6. Putting your hands on the outside of the tire, lift slightly and pull it toward you. Tires can weigh 20 to 30 pounds, more on bigger trucks, so be careful. Roll the flat tire to the trunk. Remove the spare tire, and set the flat tire in its place.
7. Mount the spare tire onto the wheel hub, lining up the holes. Put the lug nuts back on, tightening only with your hands.
8. Lower jack until the new tire is on the ground. Remove jack; return it to the trunk.
9. Using the lug wrench, tighten one of the lug nuts until it's snug, then tighten the opposite nut on the other side of the tire. Tighten the remaining lug nuts. Do not tighten excessively; it could warp the brake rotors.
10. As quickly as possible, get your car to a tire shop to have the flat tire repaired or replaced.