How to Change a Tire

Changing a flat tire isn’t rocket science, but there are some important things to know to make sure you get that spare on properly in order to make it safely to the tire shop. Follow along as we show you, step by step, how to do it in this Les Schwab Quick Tips video. We cover:

  1. What to do before you get tools out.

  2. How to find the proper jacking point on your vehicle.

  3. How much to loosen lug nuts before lifting the car.

  4. How to make sure the spare goes on correctly.

  5. The proper order for tightening lug nuts.

How to Change a Tire

  1. Safety first. Keep clear of passing traffic, make sure your car is in park, set your parking brake and turn on your hazard lights. If there’s any doubt about whether you can stay out of harm’s way, it’s better to call roadside assistance.

  2. Check your owner’s manual. It should have tire-changing instructions, including the location of the jacking point.

  3. Get your spare and tools out. They are usually stored in a compartment inside the trunk. There should also be instructions on how to use the jack.

  4. Be sure the jack is positioned properly. Make sure it’s pointed the right way and placed in the proper jacking point on the vehicle.

  5. Loosen lug nuts about a one-quarter turn before jacking.

  6. Jack the vehicle up enough so the tire is not touching the ground.

  7. Remove the lug nuts, setting them somewhere where they won’t roll away.

  8. Pull the flat tire off, placing it underneath your vehicle behind the jack or, if it’s too wide to fit there, in another spot under the auto if possible. This is important in case the vehicle falls off the jack.

  9. Put the spare on, making sure the valve stem is facing you.

  10. Screw the lugs nuts back on by hand, finger tight.

  11. Lower the jack down until the tire contacts the road and is bearing some weight, but not all the way.

  12. Tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern, not a circle pattern, so the wheel gets seated snugly. This assures the wheel isn’t askew, and doesn’t then pop into the proper place while you’re going down the road, loosening some of the bolts and causing wobbling or worse — like the nuts breaking and the wheel coming off.
Proper order for four lug nuts.
Proper order for five lug nuts.
Proper order for six lug nuts.
Proper order for eight lug nuts.

  1. Lower the vehicle the rest of the way. You’re ready to drive slowly to the closest tire shop to get your regular tire repaired or replaced.

Spares are meant to be driven on short distances and not at high speed. The speed rating of your spare tire may be lower than your normal tires’. Have a tire technician check the condition of your spare at the shop so it’s ready next time you need it.

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