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Expert Shopper Automotive

How to change a tire

What you need to change a tire

Changing a car tire can be a nightmare if you don't know how or don’t have the right equipment on hand. It can be even more challenging if a flat tire happens in an inconvenient location. 

This means that you may not have access to the internet or even another helpful human who can walk you through the process or complete it for you. 

Being prepared means knowing what you need to change a tire and how to be safe while doing so.

Safely changing a tire

Changing a tire is essentially a seven-step process that anyone can complete.

Step 1: Prepare the car

The first step is to prepare the car. This means rolling the vehicle to a safe place, applying the handbrake and getting your spare from the boot. Next, you need to put on a high-visibility jacket and put some hazard signs at the front and back of the car. This keeps both you and other drivers safe by making both you and the vehicle visible. 

Step 2: Lock the wheels up 

This step is crucial so the car doesn't roll forward in the following stages and can save you from catastrophic injury. To lock the wheels in place, you need a wheel chock. The wheel chock should be applied to the wheel opposite to the tire you are changing. This relatively simple step can be skipped over, but it’s always best to be safe rather than sorry. 

Step 3: Unscrew the wheel nuts 

The best way to loosen the wheel nuts is while the tire is still on the ground, meaning it is not jacked up yet. 

To loosen the nuts, use a wrench and turn in a counterclockwise direction. Use your foot to move the twist so you can save energy and loosen the nuts faster. Fix the wrench on the nut, stand up and apply counter pressure with your foot.

Step 4: Elevate the car with the jack 

Place the jack behind the front wheels or in front of the back wheels just under the door. Next, turn the jack wrench to a height of between 10 to 15 centimeters off the ground. 

Step 5: Remove the flat tire 

Entirely remove the wheel nuts with the wrench and put them in a pile next to you. 

Next, pull the tire off the wheel brace, keeping your hands and arms as clear as possible from under the wheel arch. Move the used tire into the boot.

Step 6: Mount spare tire and tighten the nuts 

Pick up the spare tire and apply it onto the hub bolts by lining up the holes in the spare tire with the nut slots. You should be able to see the lineup and the tire should be relatively secure. 

Then screw in the nuts so the tire is secured to the wheel brace. Next, you need to use your wrench, turning clockwise to tighten the wheel nuts fully.

Step 7: Lower the car check pressure and drive off

When the nuts are fully tightened and won't turn clockwise anymore, it's time to lower the jack fully and remove it from under the vehicle. Once on the ground, give the nuts one more check for tightness.

Check that the tire pressure is consistent with the vehicle's specifications found in the user manual. You can find more information on tire pressure gauges in the full buying guide by BestReviews.

Finally, pack up and head to the nearest mechanic to change your spare for a longer-term tire.

Tire changing tools and equipment 

JKSafety 9 Pockets Class 2 High-Visibility Vest

A yellow neon vest ensures that you remain visible when changing your tire. The reflective strips alert other road users that you are working close to the car and that they should give you a wide berth. This is especially important if you need to change your tire in low light conditions. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Roadside Emergency Kit Tool Bag

Safety triangles make other drivers aware that you are stopped at the side of the road while you change your tire. They help draw attention to your presence and reduce the risk of collision. 

Where to buy: Sold by Wayfair

Securityman Heavy Duty Wheel Chocks

This non-slip, highly durable wheel chock is perfect for any type of terrain and can stop vehicles of up to 20,000 pounds from rolling. Wheel chocks are an essential but underrated safety tool and should be applied opposite the tire that’s being changed. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Wayfair 

KickFun Universal Lug Wrench Wheel Wrench

A cross lug wrench gives you the leverage you need to remove wheel nuts. The KickFun wrench saves you both time and energy by giving you 15.8 inches of reach to get the leverage you need to loosen the nuts easily. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Husky 3-Ton Jack Stand

This jack is designed for durability and safety. This means that it can be used on most types of vehicles, including SUVs and even light trucks.

Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot

Starfire Solarus AS All-Season Radial Tire

This tire is all-season and works by offering good traction. It can easily be stored in the boot of your vehicle in case of emergency.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

EPAuto Digital Tire Pressure Gauge

This handy tire pressure gauge can let you know in an instant whether or not you're driving on a safe tire. Driving on tires with low or high pressure is extremely dangerous. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Wet Ones Antibacterial Hand Wipes

Changing a tire can leave your hands in a bit of an oily mess. Having a set of antibacterial wet wipes ensures that you don’t inadvertently ingest any of the nasty bacteria that your tires have driven over. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

First Secure Car Emergency Kit First Aid Kit

It's always a good idea to have a first aid kit handy in case you or another gets injured in the process of changing your tire. This kit helps take care of any injuries until you can seek further help. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Lauren Farrell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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