How to change a tire Follow our steps to fix a flat and change any tire
Why do I need to know how to change a tire?
You take care of your car to prevent wear and damage, but there are some things that are out of your control—like a flat tire. Flat tires can happen to even the most precautious drivers. It’s worth knowing how to do simple repairs, like changing a tire, in case of an emergency. We’ll help you learn how to change a tire with step-by-step instructions that any driver can follow.
What you need to change a tire
No one plans on getting a flat—so it pays to stay prepared. We recommend you keep these tools in your vehicle in case of a repair emergency like a flat tire.
Owner’s Manual - Spare Tire - Jack - Lug Wrench - Tire Pressure Gauge
Before You Start
You may not always think of it this way, but your vehicle is heavy machinery. Safety comes first—make sure to take these precautions before changing a tire.
GET TO SAFETY
Are you on the road? Find a safe place with plenty of clearance and low traffic to change your tire, like a parking lot.
USE YOUR HAZARD LIGHTS
Turn on your hazard lights. This is very important if you are in an area with traffic. You want to be sure you are visible to other drivers for your safety and their safety.
SECURE YOUR VEHICLE
Make sure your vehicle is secured in place when you change a tire. Engage your vehicle’s parking brake, and use wheel wedges, or something dense and weighted like bricks, to prevent any rolling.
Steps On How To Change A Tire
1. Remove hubcap or wheel cover: Most vehicles are fitted with a hubcap to protect against debris and wear on the road. The first step when changing a tire is to remove the hubcap so you can see the lug nuts that secure the tire to the wheel rim. Most hubcaps can be easily pried off unless specified in your owner’s manual.
2. Loosen lug nuts: Now that the lug nuts are visible, you can start to remove them. Twist the lug nuts in a counterclockwise motion with the lug wrench and try not to twist them more than a half turn each. Do not completely remove the lug nuts from the tire. You only want to break the lug nuts loose. If they are removed now, the tire will be unstable when you raise the vehicle.
3. Placing the jack: Look for your vehicle’s jacking points. For most cars, the jacking points are directly behind the front tires and right in front of the rear tires. Double check the owner’s manual if you’re not sure about placement before lifting with the jack.
4. Raise vehicle with jack: Now you can begin to lift your car with a jack. If you’re using a scissor jack, one of the most affordable and common jacks for emergency repair, simply turn the jack handle in a clockwise direction until the wheel is around six inches off the ground. Make sure the jack is stable and not binding or leaning towards one side. Be mindful of your safety and keep your hands and feet out from under the vehicle. Also be patient—jacking a vehicle can take time.
5. Unscrew lugnuts and remove the flat tire: With the vehicle raised, remove all lug nuts from the tire. You should be able to remove them with your hands. Keep them somewhere where they won’t get lost, you’ll need them later! You should now be able to remove the tire. Grip the treads and slowly pull it towards your body until it comes off. Place the tire on its side, clear of your workspace.
6. Replace with new tire: It's finally time to put on your new tire! Install the new tire securely on the wheelbase and make sure the tire’s rim aligns with the studs for the lug nuts. The studs should be visible through the rim.
7. Tighten lug nuts on new tire: Grab your lug nuts from before and place them on the studs. You first want to align the nuts, not completely screw them on. Evenly secure the tire by screwing the lug nuts by hand. Try starting with the top nut and then tighten its opposite. Continue tightening using a star pattern. Proper alignment will reduce the risk of a wobbly wheel. At this point your lug nuts should be on. Run the lug nuts down the rest of the way with the lug wrench.
8. Lower vehicle and continue tightening lug nuts: Begin to lower the vehicle by rotating the jack handle in a counterclockwise direction. You can completely tighten the lug nuts with your lug wrench when the tires touch the ground without bearing weight. This is important because you want to make sure the tire only has enough weight on it so it does not move while you finish tightening the lug nuts. While tightening, remember to use a star pattern. All lug nuts should be completely flush and tight.
9. Finish lowering vehicle and remove jack: Continue to wind your jack handle counterclockwise until the vehicle is completely on the ground. Now you can remove the jack and stow it away.
10. Replace the hubcap: Secure the hubcap to the front of the tire following the instructions in your owner’s manual. Sometimes it can be difficult to fit with a freshly replaced tire, so if you need to you can store it until you can get professional help. If it is a temporary spare tire, it is likely the hubcap will not fit.
11. Check tire pressure on spare: Check the tire pressure before you start driving. If it is low, find your nearest service station to fill it before resuming driving as normal.
12. Go to the tire experts: If you’ve replaced your tire with a spare, you’ll need to replace it with a new tire. Spare tires are fine as a temporary solution, but they are not made to last long on the road. At Firestone Complete Auto Care our technicians can help you explore repair and replacement options for your tires.
Visit us at Firestone Complete Auto Care
Now you know how to change a tire, but you still may need to come in for a tire change or repair. We've been repairing tires since 1926, and we take pride in repairing America's tires. When tire damage strikes, come to your local Firestone Complete Auto Care—the tire repair shop you can trust.