How To Change a Tire

Changing a tire is an important life skill that any driver needs to know. However, not every driver learns this skill before hitting the road. When you have a flat tire or suffer a tire blowout while driving, knowing how to change the tire can help you get back on the road. Of course, as soon as you do get back on the road, you’ll want to ensure your vehicle is operating safely. That’s why we recommended you bring your car to your local Bosch Auto Service for a tire and wheel inspection after any tire change.

Changing a Tire – Step by Step

Changing a tire can seem a little intimidating. However, once you know how everything works, you’ll be a pro at it in no time. Below is the step by step procedure on how to change a tire.

Step One – Secure Safety

The first step in changing a tire is making sure both you and your vehicle are safe. You should pull over in a safe place and ensure your hazard lights are on so other drivers can see you and apply proper caution. Typically, you should aim for the right shoulder; however, sometimes the left shoulder is safer if there’s too much traffic for you to move over or if the tire that needs changing is on the left side of the vehicle and the shoulders are narrow.

You’ll also need to make sure your vehicle won’t go anywhere while you’re working. Putting on the parking brake will help keep your car in place. You can also utilize wheel wedges to help secure your car. If you don’t have them on hand, bricks, rocks, or logs can also be used. If you are changing a rear tire, put your wedges against the front tires and vice versa.

Step Two - Prepare Tools

Before you can begin changing your tire, you need to make sure you have the proper equipment ready. To change a tire on a vehicle, you’ll need a jack, a lug wrench (an X-shaped tool you can purchase at any auto repair shop), and your spare tire. If you’re missing any of these, you’ll need to call in some help or travel by foot to an auto repair center if safe to do so.

Step Three – Loosen Lug Nuts

In order to remove the tire, you’ll need to loosen your vehicle’s lug nuts. Most vehicles come with a hubcap or wheel cover that protects the lug nuts while driving. You can utilize the lug wrench by using the flat end to remove the hubcap. If this doesn’t work, you should consult your owner’s manual, as some vehicles have a special wheel cover removal process.

Once you have access to the lug nuts, use the lug wrench to turn the nuts counterclockwise until they are loosened. Lug nuts are designed to stay in place, so you’re going to have to use a lot of force to get them off. They can take the pressure, however, so don’t be afraid to use your foot or the entire weight of your body to turn them as needed. You’ll want to loosen them about ½ of a full turn, but don’t take them off yet. If you don’t loosen your lug nuts now, you won’t be able to remove them later. Once you lift the car, attempting to unscrew tightened lug nuts will just end up spinning the tire without the friction from the ground.

Step Four - Raise the Vehicle

You won’t get far moving the tire with the weight of the vehicle pressing it to the ground. You’ll need to raise the car up with a jack. You want to position the jack beneath the vehicle’s frame alongside your tire that needs changing. Many vehicles have molded plastic on the bottom of their frames with a clear area designed specifically to support a jack. If you’re having trouble finding that spot, consult your owner’s manual. It’s important to make sure your vehicle and jack are on a level ground and in the right positioning. If not, you risk your car rolling over or the jack becoming unstable, leading to the vehicle crashing down on you.

With the jack in the proper position, raise your vehicle until the tire in question is about six inches off the ground. You want to ensure you have enough space to work with without tipping your car too much and putting additional strain on other parts of your suspension. It’s important to keep your body clear of the underside of the vehicle at all times, as any sudden malfunction or break of the jack could send the car crashing down on you.

Step Five – Remove the Tire

With the car raised, you can finish unscrewing the lug nuts. This won’t take as much pressure since you’ve already loosened them. You’ll need the lug nuts later, so put them in a container (such as your hub cap) or pocket, so they don’t roll away. Once the lug nuts are free you can remove the tire. You want to grab the tire by the treads and gently pull it toward your body until it’s free. Place it down on its side, so it doesn’t roll away down the street.

Step Six – Prepare the Spare

It can take a while to properly line the spare up with the hub. Make sure the rim matches with the lug bolts so you can fit the nuts back on. Tires can get pretty heavy, so if you have someone available to help, this can make lifting and aligning the spare an easier process. Once the spare is aligned (you’ll be able to see each of the lug bolts through the rim’s holes), push gently toward the vehicle until you can see the lug bolts through the rim.

Step Seven – Secure Spare Tire

Place the lug nuts back on and tighten them as much as you can by hand. This will prevent the spare from shifting as you continue. With the spare tire on, lower the jack until the tire is resting on the ground. However, don’t lower it all the way. You want to keep the full weight off the tire as you finish securing it. Take your lug wrench and turn it clockwise as much as you can. Use the same amount of force as you did when taking the bolts off to ensure they are secure and the tire is on. It’s important to follow the right pattern of tightening your lug nuts as well. Start with one, and then move onto the one opposite of it. Then, continue to the other pair, making sure to move in opposite paths until all lug nuts are tightened. This method ensures that the tire is fitted straight.

Step Eight – Cleanup

With the spare tire secured, lower the vehicle all the way and remove the jack. Test the lug nuts to ensure they are on as tightly as possible. Check to see if the hubcap you removed earlier will fit the spare tire. If it does, install it the same way it was removed. If it doesn’t, be sure to keep it stored away with your other equipment.

Step Nine – Check Tire Pressure

With everything stowed away, your job isn’t yet done. Check your spare tire’s pressure to ensure it’s safe to drive. A spare tire needs a minimum tire pressure of 60 psi to be considered safe. Each model, however, has different regulation psi for safe operation, and you can refer to your manual to determine what’s right for your tire. If it doesn’t read that, you’ll need to drive carefully to the nearest place you can fill your tire with air. It’s important to remember that spare tires are different from regular tires; they should only be used as an emergency replacement until you are able to get your vehicle into the shop.

Tire Services with Bosch Auto Services

If you change your tire and need assistance replacing or repairing your original, stop by your local Bosch Auto Service for a full tire inspection, repair, and replacement.

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