Changing a Flat Tire, We all Have to Face it at Some Point

Let’s get back to the basics here.  Changing a tire is unfortunately a pretty unavoidable thing for the average car owner.  You never know when this may happen but, rest assured that it probably will happen a few times throughout your driving lifetime.  Although, you do have a few options:

1. Buy a NEW Ford! You get the Ford Roadside Assistance Program-  Under this program, Ford will cover:

  • Towing to the nearest Ford Motor Company dealership, or towing to your selling dealership if within 35 miles
  • Flat tire change (vehicle must have usable spare)
  • Fuel delivery (limited to two occurrences in a 12-month period up to 2 gal. gas, 5 gal. diesel)
  • Jump starts
  • Lock-out assistance (replacement key cost is customer responsibility)
  • Winching (vehicle must be within 100 feet of a paved or county-maintained road)

2. Sign up for AAA and have them take care of it for you- their Premier membership will run you about $140/year for an individual with additional family members costing $85 each. The Premier membership includes: towing up to 100 miles with one tow up to 200 miles once a year, battery service, tire change, out of fuel service, locked out service, stuck vehicle service, emergency check acceptance (for services not covered by your AAA membership, up to $250), trip interruption expense coverage up to $1,000, legal defense reimbursement for motor vehicle violations up to $2,000, international travel guides, international travel maps, and passport photos. 

3. Pay a tow truck- the cost can add up quickly and some companies will exploit the helplessness of your situation in order to make fast money.  Current rates can run you around $85-120 just to be picked up and then a fee per mile.  

4. Roll up your sleeves and get a little dirty and take pride in your savvy skills as a tire changing car owner.

So, if you are leaning towards option 1/2/3 you may not think that learning the basics of changing a tire is worth your time but, if you are going to select option 4, we are going to take you through the basics.  Also, for you option 1/2/3 people out there knowing how to change a tire is just good knowledge to have.  If you are in an area where you can’t get cell service (believe it or not they still exist) you won’t be able to reach  roadside assistance, AAA, or a tow truck.  So, go ahead and roll up your sleeves.  Let’s get started.

Step 1:

If you get a flat tire while driving, do not apply the brake heavily. Instead, gradually decrease your speed. Hold the steering wheel firmly and slowly move to a flat surface.  If you have an automatic transmission put it in park or if you have a manual transmission put it in first gear.  Then make sure you engage the emergency brake and turn on your hazard lights.  But, we do want to mention that if you get a flat tire on a major highway out of concern for your safety we’d advice to contact Roadside Assistance, AAA, or a towing company.   Drivers are distracted more than ever today with texting, cell phone calls, and so much more so it’s better to be safe and avoid the high traffic areas for changing your tire.

Step 2:

Locate your spare tire and jack and remove them from their storage location; if your vehicle is a car or a crossover more often than not the spare will be your trunk but, in some cases such as a few truck based SUVS, like the Expedition, and trucks the spare maybe underneath the vehicle.  The spare tires that are located underneath the vehicle usually have 2 possible ways to remove them.  The more common option being the crawl underneath to remove method, but some will have a crank for you to use to lower the tire so that it can be removed.  So, you should really check out your owner’s manual before getting ahead of yourself that way you know what type of spare tire configuration is set up with your vehicle.  We always recommend to check the air pressure on the spare at this stage in the game.  Just to make sure you are not wasting your time putting on a spare that is also flat.  If you buy your vehicle used you never really know the condition of the spare unless you have already inspected it and even if you buy new it’s best to make sure that the spare hasn’t lost air pressure from being exposed to temperature changes, which does really effect your tire’s air pressure.

Step 3:

Remove your hubcap cautiously, if your flat tire is equipped with one.  We recommend using the flat end of your crow bar to slowly pry it off.

Step 4:  

Get the jack set up.  Again crack open your owner’s manual to see how to operate your jack and where on the vehicles underside you should position it so you do not damage or dent the molding.

Step 5:

Crank your jack until it is snug, but not until the point that the vehicle is raised.  Then use your crow bar or lug wrench to loosen, not remove, your lug nuts by turning them counterclockwise.

Step 6:

Using the jack lift the car high enough so that you’ll be able to remove the flat and install the properly inflated spare.

Step 7:

Unscrew the lug nuts completely and set them aside somewhere safe, so they don’t get lost.  Then remove the flat tire.

Step 8:

Set the flat tire aside.  Mount the spare by lining up the holes with the stud and positioning it firmly in place.  Screw the lug nuts back in to place by hand turning them clockwise until just snug.

Step 9:

Lower the jack until there is just enough weight to let you safely tighten the lug nuts using your crow bar or lug wrench.

Step 10:

Lower the jack completely and tighten the lug nuts again to make sure that they will not come loose, but DO NOT over tighten them as this could cause them to strip out later.

Make sure you pack up your flat tire and jack into their proper storage areas.  Then get yourself to Academy Ford to have the technicians either repair or replace the flat to get you back on the road.  We recommend having the flat serviced here for obvious reasons, but it really is the best option in order to prevent damage to the tire pressure monitoring system sensors.

There you have it you have successfully learned how to change a tire.  Any questions?  Let us know if the comments section below.

One Response to “Changing a Flat Tire, We all Have to Face it at Some Point”
  1. Hazel Adams says:

    It is interesting for me to learn how to change a tire. I am buying my first car ever and I want to make sure I know how to do this. I appreciate you pointing out that I should not over tighten the lugnuts, or else they will be stripped later. Thanks for the great ideas.

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