You’re driving on a gorgeous road, the sun is shining, you’re singing along with the music, and all of a sudden, something is wrong. Your tire went flat, or it blew out. Now what do you do?
First off, don’t panic. Put on your hazard lights and try to get off the road as quickly and safely as possible.
Sometimes a flat tire makes the car respond oddly. Sometimes you can feel which tire went out. Other times, you will feel like you’re driving over a rumble strip because the car is vibrating and you hear that wubba wubba sound.
Going slowly is going to save you and your car in the long run. Don’t try and stay at highway speed because the car won’t respond the same way.
Whether you’re on a busy road or not, you need to get off the road as much as possible. This is essential if your flat tire is on the driver’s side. Unfortunately, people get hit and killed trying to change a tire in traffic. You’re better off ruining the wheel by driving slowly to the next service station or exit rather then change the tire in the roadway. This is also true at night when there are drunks on the roadway who unfortunately are drawn towards the hazard lights.
If you have roadside assistance, call them as soon as your vehicle is off the road. Then stay in your vehicle with the doors locked until they arrive.
And remember, before you go on a trip, check the tire pressure in all of your tires. And that includes your spare. Don’t get caught with a flat spare.
Also, at some point, find your owner’s manual of your car and review how to use their equipment. Find the jack and lug wrench so you know where they are. Newer cars have jacks that are placed under the side of the car, and no longer go on the axle.
The best way to change a tire is:
- Remove the spare tire
- Remove the jack and lug wrench
- Loosen the lug nuts on the tire you’re replacing. Put the wrench on the nut such that the handle sticks out. Then stand on the end of the wrench. It should loosen the nut immediately
- Jack the car up enough so you can get the new tire on
- Remove the lug nuts
- Remove the tire
- Put on the new tire
- Put the lug nuts on in a star pattern. If you start with the top nut, then make the second nut be the bottom one, and then a top right, bottom left, etc. This puts the tire on relatively straight
- Lower the car
- Tighten the lug nuts as much as you can
- Put the blown out tire back into your car along with the jack and wrench
If you have a full spare, you should be good to go. If you have a small spare, often called a doughnut, then you will probably need to limit your speed to 50mph. Read your owner’s manual to find out what the limitations are.
You’re going to get dirty when you change a tire, there’s no getting around that. You may want to keep hand wipes in the car. But ultimately, you’ll probably want to pull over at a service station and wash your hands while calming down. Flat tires can be very annoying.
Just stay safe while getting it fixed.