A flat tire inevitably happens at the worst possible time. Maybe you’re on your way to work or, even worse, you’re leaving for a vacation when you notice that your tire is flat. While it may cost you some time, the good news is that a flat tire is not catastrophic and often can be fixed quickly without a huge inconvenience to you.
How to fix a flat tire yourself
If you are eager to learn how to fix a flat tire yourself, then you’ll want to know how to do it before you are stuck on the side of the road. Having the knowledge before you are in a crisis will make solving the problem much easier.
Step 1: Get to a safe location. Your car is worth much less than your life, so never put your car above your own safety or that of your passengers.
Pull off a busy road or highway if possible and turn on your hazards or use flares. This will alert other drivers to your presence, especially at night, and could prevent accidents and further damage to your vehicle.
If possible, try to stop on flat ground to make the process of fixing the flat go more smoothly.
Step 2: Locate your spare tire and tool kit. Most vehicles carry a spare tire along with a set of tools such as a small jack and tire wrench, so know where these are beforehand.
Sometimes, spare tires are stowed underneath the vehicle or in the trunk underneath the floorboard. Perhaps your vehicle even has a different location, so if you cannot find it, then consult your owner’s manual or do an online search for your make and model.
Step 3: Chock the tires. Place wheel chocks around the tires to prevent the vehicle from rolling while you are working.
Step 4: Loosen the lug nuts. You should loosen or “break” the lug nuts so that they are easier to remove when the wheel is up in the air.
Step 5: Jack the car up. If your vehicle has a jack, then use it to lift the vehicle slightly off the ground so you can access the tire more readily.
Be sure you are placing the jack in a secure location that can support the weight of your car.
As noted above, you’ll want to be on a flat surface to prevent the vehicle from tipping.
Also, make sure to jack the vehicle up at its designated jacking points. Your owner’s manual will have specific information on this, but generally the jacking points are just in front of the rear tires and just behind the front tires.
Step 6: Remove the flat tire. Using the tire wrench, remove the lug nuts from the flat tire and slide the tire off the axle.
Loosening the lug nuts in a star pattern (as opposed to going around in a circle) will help the tire come off more smoothly.
Step 7: Slide the spare tire onto the axle. Line up the holes on the spare tire and slide it onto the axle.
Step 8: Tighten the lug nuts. Using your tire wrench, tighten the lug nuts so that the spare tire is secure.
Again, you should tighten the nuts in a star pattern to make sure the wheel is tightened evenly.
Step 9: Lower the vehicle. Return the vehicle to the ground and remove wheel chocks.
Step 10: Address the issue with the flat tire. At this point, you can go directly to a tire shop to determine if the flat tire is salvageable.
A mechanic may be able to put a plug in the tire to act as a temporary fix, but it may be wisest for you simply to purchase a new tire.
A new tire guarantees that there won’t be further issues related to the current leak, and it will give you added peace of mind knowing that you won’t find yourself stranded again soon.