How to Change a Tire

Preparing Your Car for a Tire Change

When a tire goes flat on the road, a driver has very little time to find a safe place to pull over and prepare for a change. The ideal surface would be flat, level and solid -- like a parking lot.

Part of good vehicle maintenance sometimes isn't just about the tools, but also the know-how. Drivers should train themselves to quickly spot good flat fixing areas by being aware of their surroundings. Finding a good spot is really about knowing what to avoid -- specifically soft ground and hills.


The next consideration is parking as far away from traffic as possible. You definitely don't need the added danger of attempting to fix a flat tire while you're close to moving traffic. You risk being hit by an inattentive or reckless driver.

The next step, once you've found a good spot, is to turn on the car's emergency flashers or hazard lights. Checking these lights to ensure they work properly should be a routine part of your regular car maintenance.

With the flashers on, make sure the car can't roll once it's lifted. Apply the parking brake and shift the transmission into the "Park" position or in reverse gear if the car has a standard transmission. Now get out of the car and chock (block) the wheels. The wheel blocks can range from large roadside stones to specially designed wheel wedges. Anything that stops the car from rolling away will work. Place the blocks in front of the front tires if you're changing a rear tire and behind the rear tires if you're changing a front tire.

Hopefully your regular automotive maintenance schedule has given you the opportunity to check the condition of the spare and tools. If not, now's the time to find out just how lucky (or unlucky) you are. Remove the jack and lug wrench from the car, as well as the spare tire.

Again, regular auto maintenance would ensure these items are in good working order and condition. If not, well, it's time to call a tow truck. But if your spare tire and tools are ready to go, keep reading to find out what to do next.