HOW TO CHANGE A FLAT TIRE IN FIVE STEPS
A tire blowout is one of the scariest experiences you can have while driving. Impact damage, a large cut with rapid air loss, or even an unnoticed small puncture that allows the tire to slowly lose air over time can all cause tire failure.1 A flat tire can seem overwhelming when you are on the road, but there are five steps you can follow to switch to your spare and get home (or to the nearest tire shop).
Learn How to Fill Your Tires with Air to help prevent a flat tire.
Step One: Get Safe
Before you exit your vehicle, you need to pull over or find a place away from the rush of traffic on the road. Stay calm and aware of your surroundings while you look for a place to stop the car. While you don’t want to damage the metal rim by driving more than several yards on a flat tire, your safety comes first.2 When you pull over, remember to put your hazard lights on when on the side of the road, turn off the car, and apply your parking brake. When you’re ready to investigate the damage, try to exit on the side of the car away from traffic and no matter what, make sure you watch for oncoming traffic before opening the door. Keep children and other passengers calm and comfortable inside the vehicle. If you have them, place flares or reflectors every 10 feet and at least 300 feet behind your vehicle on the right edge of the main roadway to oncoming traffic where your vehicle is parked.3 Apply wheel wedges or find large rocks to apply behind wheels on the opposite side of the car to prevent the vehicle from rolling.
Step Two: Grab Your Tools
Once you are in a safe location, locate all the necessary tools to change your flat tire. Your owner’s manual should tell you where the tools are located, but most are in the trunk with the spare or in the floor of an SUV. A basic tire changing kit should include:
1. A jack to easily lift the car
2. A lug wrench with a socket on one end and a pry bar on the other
3. A spare tire to replace the flat tire4
Some vehicle models may require additional tools like a wheel lock or extension bars for lowering the spare tire so be sure to consult your vehicle's owner’s manual before you attempt to change to your spare. It is also important to note that while fixing something yourself can feel empowering, if you don’t feel comfortable changing your flat tire, it’s a good idea to call a trained expert to help.
Step Three: Loosen and Lift
If you have a hubcap or wheel cover, carefully remove it. Use the lug wrench and socket to loosen the lug nuts, but don’t remove them just yet. Stop turning if the socket slips around the lug nut. Constant slipping could damage the nut by stripping it, making it more difficult to remove. Next, refer to your owner’s manual to find the correct location to use the jack. The correct location is reinforced so It won't do damage to your car’s frame or undercarriage. Putting the jack anywhere else could cause damage to the frame of the car, or even worse, could cause the car to fall off the jack while you are working on it, seriously injuring you. Once you identify the correct location, use the jack to slowly lift your vehicle until the wheel spins freely, but not far enough for the car to slide off the jack.
Step Four: Change the Tire
Without losing track of them, remove the lug nuts and pull the tire off the car straight towards you. Place the spare tire on straight and reattach the lug nuts with your hands while holding the tire still.
Learn more about how to keep your tires healthy by avoiding these 5 Ways to Avoid a Flat Tire.
Step Five: Lower and Tighten
Use the jack to slowly lower the car back down. Once all four tires are touching the ground, use the wrench to tighten the lug nuts all the way. Be sure to tighten the nuts in a diagonal pattern rather than a circle so the tire will stay straight.
Once the flat has been safely removed and replaced with a spare, you still need to purchase a true replacement tire or get the tire repaired. Driving on the spare faster or longer than the owner’s manual recommends could cause even more damage to your vehicle.
Find a shop near you that accepts Synchrony Car Care TM and take advantage of promotional financing* on purchases of $199 or more.
Read more about Why You Shouldn’t Just Replace One Tire.
*Subject to credit approval. Minimum monthly payments required. See merchants or mysynchrony.com/carcare for promotional financing details and merchant locations.
We include links to other websites in this article for your convenience. We do not endorse any content on these sites.
All product names, logos, and brands are the property of their respective owners. All company, product and service names used on this website are for identification purposes only. Use of these names, logos, and brands does not imply endorsement.
This content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual business, financial, legal, tax and/or other advisors with respect to any information presented.
Synchrony and any of its affiliates (collectively, “Synchrony”) make no representations or warranties regarding this content and accept no liability for any loss or harm arising from the use of the information provided. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms and conditions.