Ladyguide: How To Change A Tire

This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart.  I remember the first time I realized that not everyone knew how to change a tire. I was late for a lunch date with my aunt, really late, and she was kind of irritated about it until I told her that I had a flat.  This was back before everyone had a cell phone, so I hadn’t been able to call her to let her know what was going on.  She said something about waiting for AAA and I told her that I just changed it myself.  I was surprised to learn that she had never changed a tire before, and when I told my mom about the conversation she confessed that she hadn’t either.  Who knew?

Since then I have been passionately opinionated about the fact that every woman should be able to change a flat tire.  I also believe that everyone should carry their own jumper cables and be able to jump start a car.  Flat tires and dead batteries are the two things that are most likely to go wrong while you are out and about and they don’t require special skills to fix.

I can’t tell you exactly how to change the tires on your car, but I can outline the basic steps.  Each car has its own quirks of engineering, but the process remains the same.

Warning signFirst and most importantly – MAKE SURE YOU ARE SAFE!  If your tire goes flat while you are driving, pull over far enough that you have room to maneuver safely without getting hit by another car.  If at all possible, pull into a nearby parking lot.  It’s bad for your car to drive on a flat, but it’s better than you becoming a stain on the highway.

When you are pulled over in a good spot, might I recommend looking at your owner’s manual?  Men tend to view the owner’s manual in the same light as asking for directions, something to be avoided at all costs, but it’s quite a handy little book.  It has all sorts of useful information in it, like where to find your spare tire and how your jack works.  In most vehicles, locating the spare is pretty easy.  It’s under a flap in your trunk.  The tool kit you need is probably nested inside it.   If, however, your vehicle features stow-n-go seating the spare could be anywhere.  Like under your driver’s seat.

Once you have assembled all your implements of destruction, the first thing you do is loosen the lug nuts.  You might be temped to jack up the car first.  It is the most intimidating part of the process and you want to get it out of the way.  If you do this, when you try to loosen the lug nuts your tire will just spin in the air, mocking your attempts to unscrew the crusty nuts without the resistance provided by having your tire on the ground.

spare tire and toolsSo – Lug nuts first, jack second.  Again, the manual is your friend.  It can tell you how to assemble the jack and get things moving.  If you do not have the manual, though, it’s not that hard.  Most of them are designed to be pretty self-explanatory.  You should be able to look at things and say “Well, this bit fits on that bit, and if I move this thing it starts to go up.”  The manual just takes any guesswork out of the process.

When you place the jack, you want it to be under the frame, not just the door.  This means that you have to put it a little further back than you might think.  If you start to lift the car and you see the paneling start to buckle, or it looks like the door is moving more than anything else, you have to move it back a little farther.

Once the flat tire is clear of the ground, remove the lug nuts and place them somewhere they won’t get lost or roll away.  Take off the flat tire and set it to the side, put the spare on.  Replace the lug nuts in a star pattern, so you are alternating top and bottom bolts.  Get them good and finger tight, so the tire is snug and not wobbly, and let the car back down.  When the tire is back on solid ground, tighten them again with the lug wrench, as tight as they will go.  Pack all your tools up, throw everything back into the trunk and you are good to go.

The photo of the flat tire and the photo of  the tire with tools are from the Wikimedia Commons

By [E]SaraB

Glass artisan by day, blogger by night (and sometimes vice versa). SaraB has three kids, three pets, one husband and a bizarre sense of humor. Her glass pendants can be found at if you're interested in checking it out.

6 replies on “Ladyguide: How To Change A Tire”

I’d like to add on to the safety tip. DO NO CHANGE YOUR TIRE ON THE SHOULDER ROAD. As Sara B stated, drive to a parking lot, but don’t sit on the shoulder and assume people will miss you.

And keep flares and/or a reflective safety triangle. I have an emergency kit and jumper cables in my car.

Yeah, we never forget the lessons we learn the hard way. Like how that whole “red sock turning your laundry pink” thing doesn’t just happen on TV.
I have one of those flashlights that don’t need batteries, because I got tired of my emergency flashlight being dead when I needed it. It’s shaped like a penguin and you flap his wing to charge it up :)

The mechanic (who is a great guy) where I used to take my car would occasionally hold seminars specifically for women to learn how to do minor car maintenance. I’ve never been to one, but I’ve always wanted to. This post makes me think I should check out the next one!

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