Car Help 101: How To Change A Tire

Today’s edition of our Car Help 101 series is focused on that most basic of car repair tasks: changing a tire. Now, some may laugh at the fact that we are doing a lesson on how to change a car tire, but we are pretty sure that there are more of you out there who really aren’t too sure how to do this, even though many of you would be unlikely to admit it. It’s okay, your friends at Fort Collins Foreign Car Service aren’t here to judge, we’re just here to help (that’s why we call it Car Help 101). So, here is your crash course on changing that tire, so you don’t end up looking like a fool in front of your date the next time you spring a flat on the highway. It’s really as easy as 1-2-3. Don’t worry, if you get really confused you can stop in and ask for help at your local auto center.

Step 1: Find a Spot To Stop and Get Set Up

  • You’ll want to choose a spot that is flat and has hard ground if at all possible. You don’t want the car rolling on you, and you want a hard flat surface to put the jack on.
  • Get as far away from traffic as possible (while still staying on the level, hard road). Turn on your hazard lights to alert other passing vehicles to your presence. Stay alert. If you have someone else in the car, ask them to watch the traffic for you, while your back is turned. Being on the side of the road is potentially very dangerous so be aware.
  • Put a rock or other hard object in front of both the front and back set of tires and put the vehicle in ‘park’ (if an automatic), or either first gear or reverse (if a manual).

Step 2: Jack Up the Car

  • Get the jack and lug wrench out of your car. Consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual if you aren’t sure where to find them, but they will usually be inside (or very near) the spare tire.
  • Place the jack under the frame near the tire that you are going to be replacing. Make sure that jack is in contact with the metal frame of the car and won’t slip. This is crucial.
    • If you have a mechanical jack this will require you turning or cranking in a circular motion to raise the jack. If you have a hydraulic jack, you will insert the lever and pump up and down to raise the jack.
  • Raise the car until the tire is around 4-6 inches off the ground.

Step 3: Remove the Tire and Replace with Spare.

  • If you have a hubcap on your wheel, remove it so that you can get to the wheel
  • Use the lug wrench to loosen and remove the lug nuts, by turning in a counter-clockwise direction (remember: lefty-loosey and right-tighty).
  • Gently remove the flat tire, pulling it straight out towards you and put it aside for now.
  • Get the spare tire and position it in the wheel well so that the holes on the wheel line up with the bolts on the car. Push the tire onto the car until it will go no further.
  • Using the lug wrench, replace the lug nuts and tighten them (not all the way, just until they are firm). Alternate sides of the wheel when tightening the nuts.
  • Lower the car with the jack and remove the jack from under the car.
  • Finish tightening the lug nuts and put away the jack, lug wrench and spare tire in the trunk of your car.

Once you have your spare tire on, you will want to get to the auto center as quickly as possible to get the tire repaired. Your spare is only designed to go a couple dozen miles or less. Don’t drive at very high speeds or do any crazy handling with the spare tire on. Just drive directly to Fort Collins Foreign Car Service and we’ll help you get a new tire put on there.