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DIY: How To Change A Tire

Changing a flat tire is a basic skill that every driver should have. It will save you money on a road call and it will get you back on the road much quicker.

What you will need:

  1. Pry bar, tire iron or large screwdriver
  2. Wheel lock key (If applicable)
  3. Wheel nut wrench
  4. Wheel chocks or bricks
  5. Jack
  6. Rubber mallet
  7. Work gloves

Before You Start:

Follow these instructions carefully. Read and be sure you understand them before you begin. Gather together all of your tools and supplies before you begin. Allow plenty of time to do the job so you don't have to hurry. Remember that these are general instructions. For more detailed instructions pertaining to your specific vehicle, consult an appropriate repair manual.

Safety is important whenever you're working around machinery. Beware of hot objects, sharp instruments and hazardous materials. Don't substitute tools unless you're sure you won't compromise either your safety or the performance of your vehicle. Never work on a vehicle that is only supported by a jack. Use jack stands to support the vehicle while you work. Work on a solid, level surface. Never jack a car up on dirt or grass.

With that said, let's get to work!

  1. Park the vehicle on a hard, level surface. If you can't, the surface should be as level as possible.
  2. Place the vehicle in the PARK position if it has an automatic transmission or in REVERSE if it is a manual transmission.
  3. Apply the parking brake and remove the key from the ignition.
  4. Place a wheel chock, or brick, diagonally opposite the wheel to be changed. If you are changing the LF tire you should chock the RR tire. Placing wheel chocks at both wheels would be an added safety step.
  5. If your vehicle has separate wheel covers, use the pry bar to remove them. Place the pry bar under the edge of the wheel cover and gently pry it up. Do this at several points around the wheel cover to loosen it, then remove it completely.
  6. If you have a wheel lock key, fit it to the wheel lock and place the lug wrench on it. Turn it in a clockwise direction until the wheel lock cracks loose.

NOTE: There are some vehicles that have left handed threads on the lug bolts. These can generally be identified with the letter "L" stamped in the end of the lug bolt. If this is the case, turn the lug wrench/wheel lock in a clockwise direction.

  1. Place the wheel lock in a safe place where it won't roll away and crack the other lug nuts loose. At this point you just want to crack them loose, not remove them. If a lug nut is difficult to loosen, place the lug wrench on the lug nut until it is as close to horizontal with the ground as possible. Then stand close to the end of the lug wrench as safely possible and do a little jump. This will crack the stubborn lug nut loose.
  2. Now place the jack in position as per vehicles instructions. This is usually under the body just forward of the rear wheels and rearward of the front wheels. If the ground is grassy, sandy or soggy place the plywood under the jack.
  3. Slowly and steadily raise the vehicle until the tire is just touching the ground. Using the lug wrench remove all the lug nuts and place them aside.
  1. Raise the vehicle until the wheel clears the ground and remove the wheel.
  2. Place the replacement wheel onto the wheel studs and start the lug nuts by hand as far as you can. Wiggling the wheel will help in doing this.
  3. With the wheel on and secure, lower the vehicle until the wheel touches the ground. Use the lug wrench to tighten the lug nuts. There is a certain sequence you must follow. If you have four lug nuts, the sequence is tighten the first nut, then the opposite nut, then the one clockwise to the right and finally the one opposite.
  4. If you have five lug nuts the sequence is a star pattern. If you have six lug nuts, the pattern is the same as the four lug nut pattern with two more lug nuts. (See diagram)
  5. Lower the vehicle completely and give the lug nuts a final tightening. Standing on one end of the lug wrench will insure the lug nuts are tightened sufficiently.
  1. As soon as possible go to a tire store or repair shop and have the lug nuts properly torqued.

Tips:

  • A "bottle" type hydralic jack will make jacking the car up a lot easier. A 12" square of ¾" plywood will serve as a base if you are on grassy or sandy ground.
  • Practice this a couple of times to familiarize yourself with the job so you are better prepared to do it on the side of the road.
  • Make sure you know where your wheel lock key is and that is in fact in the car. Common places to find it are in the glove box and attached to the jack handle.
  • A four arm lug wrench generally offers more leverage and support than the lug wrench that comes with the vehicle.
Additional Information provided courtesy of
ALLDATAdiy.com and Warranty Direct
© 2000-2007 Vincent T. Ciulla

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