Dave is out to see family in the suburbs on a fine Friday evening. He plans to spend the weekend with them. Dave cruises down the highway feeling very spirited. It has been a long time since he went home.
But suddenly, he hears a very loud sound from the backside of his car. He quickly presses down on the brakes and rushes out to see what happened just to find out he has got a flat.
He panics, unsure of what to do. He has never fixed a tire before. Maybe Google would help, so he pulls out his mobile phone only to see that it’s dead. He forgot to charge it all afternoon. Now he is stranded.
Don’t be like Dave. Learn the most basic life hacks – one of which is how to fix a tire. Knowledge like this tends to come very handily in a world full of automobiles and long trips.
How Long Does It Take To Change a Tire?
How to change a tire is one of the things you need to be taught when learning how to drive. But if by any chance you skipped that lesson, we are here to give you the lessons. The steps are simple, and literally, anyone can follow them and change a tire or two.
Yet, how long it takes to change a tire does not have a straightforward answer as it depends on the situation and who is changing the tire.
When Done By a Professional
A professional is simply anyone who has huge experience in dealing with cars, such as a mechanic. It is something they do regularly; hence they can get the job done faster than a non-professional.
It would take a mechanic about 5 – 15 minutes to change one tire. They usually spend about 10 minutes fixing one flat and about 40 minutes fixing all four tires (if need be).
When Done With Roadside Assistance
Getting a flat while on the highway is common but getting roadside assistance isn’t as common. For instance, it would usually take about 50 minutes for help to arrive if you call for roadside assistance.
In any case, it would take between 15 – 30 minutes to change a tire. Sometimes, you may get assisted by a more qualified person, which could cut the time to about 10 minutes.
When You Do it Yourself
Even this can depend on a few variables. For instance, do you have all the equipment, and is this your first attempt?
Needless to say, it would take you lesser time if you have all that is required and if you already have some experience changing tires.
If you have the required tools and some experience, it will take about 15 – 20 minutes to change one flat tire. However, this can extend to 30 minutes or more if it is your first time.
What Are The 3 Things You Need to Change a Tire?
Changing a tire by yourself takes both experience and tools. Knowing how to do it is just as important as having the right tools.
The three most important items you will need to have present when you get a flat are:
- A spare tire
- A lug wrench
- A jack
A spare tire is usually an extra tire that many drivers carry along in their boot, and you should have one too. The spare tire may either be full-size or space-saver (also sometimes called “donut”).
Of course, the full-size spares are better when talking about safety, but they are harder to store and carry around. And because the temporary space-saver spares usually do the trick and get drivers out of flat troubles, many drivers carry them around.
Whichever of these two you have, you will always need to ensure that it is in perfect condition and with the right air pressure.
A lug wrench is a handy tool that contains a socket that matches the size of the lug nuts on the car wheels. They are therefore used for loosening those nuts. Opposite the socket side is a pry bar that can remove the hub cap or be used for prying off the wheel hub in the instance where it is stuck.
The longer the handle of your lug wrench, the easier it would be for you to apply the needed force on the nuts.
A jack is a device used in lifting the sides of the vehicle off the ground. This is usually done to make it easier to remove and replace the tires.
Jacks come in different shapes and types, with the two most common types being scissors and bottle jacks. Scissors jacks are the most common since they are easier to carry along. On the other hand, bottle jacks are less compact but more powerful since they use hydraulic fluids to function rather than mechanical mechanisms.
A fourth very important tool you will need is the owner’s manual. You will need to consult this at every turn as you work the flat tire.
Other common essentials that you may also require include:
- Wheel blocks
- Tire gauge
- A flat wooden block to stand the jack
- Hand gloves
However, these items do not play a central role when changing a flat and can easily be substituted with other alternatives.
How to Change a Flat Tire
Step 1: Prepare your car
You first want to be sure you are in a safe place. If you get a flat where you are not confident about your safety, you need to keep the vehicle moving until you find a safer place.
Then park the car and apply the handbrake, turn on your hazard lights or “flashers” before taking out the spare tire and other tools you need.
Step 2: Use wheel blocks to secure the car
Place wheel blocks behind the tires to prevent the vehicle from sliding backward when using the jack.
If you only have one block, place it behind the tire opposite the flat one. If you don’t have wheel blocks, you can use wooden blocks or heavy stones to keep the car in place.
Step 3: Use the lug to loosen the nuts
Fix the wrench socket into the wheel nuts and begin to turn anti-clockwise until the nut begins to loosen. It is usually advisable to do this while the wheel is on the ground because it is easier and safer.
Turn each nut until it is loosened partially enough to be screwed off by hand.
Step 4: Jack up the car
Consult the owner’s manual to find out where the dedicated jacking points are under your car. Then position the jack at the point, making sure to place a small wooden block or plank under the jack to keep it stable.
Begin to jack up the car until the flat tire is about 10 – 15 cm off the ground.
Step 5: Pull out the flat tire
After you have raised the tire is off the ground, finish unscrewing the nut and gently pull the flat tire towards you until it comes off completely.
Place it aside, then bring the spare closer.
Step 6: Install the spare tire.
Replace the flat with the spare like how you removed the flat. Know that the spare may be heavier or lighter than the flat, depending on whether or not you are using a full-size spare tire.
Begin to replace the nuts one at a time, tightening each with your hand as you do so.
Step 7: Partially lower the car
Turn the jack the other way and lower the car until the edge of the spare tire touches the ground. You don’t need to completely lower it as the nuts are not fully in place yet. Then tighten the wheel nuts completely using the wrench.
Step 8: Completely lower the vehicle
Once the nuts are in place and tight enough, lower the car completely and remove the jack. You may give the nuts a final check for tightness before returning your tools.
Step 9: Clean up and continue your journey.
Clean up and check the spare tire air pressure. If you don’t have a tire gauge, you can drive to the nearest petrol station, use their gauge and even pump to the recommended pressure there before resuming your journey.
Don’t forget to take the flat tire for repairs when you arrive. The experts will advise you always to have a spare tire ready at every point.
Knowing how to change a flat tire is a life hack that not many people have. And although the specific details such as jacking points may differ according to car type, the steps above should help you get the job done, generally speaking.
You should also always consult the manufacturer’s guide and always monitor your tires for any tread wears. This will not only help you change a flat safely, but it will also keep you safe at all times and while on the road.