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With any luck, you’ll never need to change a flat tire on the side of the road. It’s not fun. A flat tire will happen in the worst of circumstances no matter what; it’s Murphy’s Law. It’s not the hardest thing in the world to do, but it’s no fun and puts a damper on everything else you are supposed to do. Repairing that flat tire is priority number one, and getting a new tire is number two. Before it becomes a necessity, practice changing a tire on your car in the driveway under controlled circumstances. It’s good to have done it at least once so you know what to do. Here are some tips on how to properly change a flat tire.

Read the Owner’s Manual

The first thing to do is to read your vehicle’s owner’s manual. It will tell you everything you need to know about changing a tire. It will say where the spare tire is, where the jack is, where to place the jack, and everything else. Do that first before doing anything else to give yourself a baseline of information. If you don’t have the manual, find it online and download it.

Remove the Spare and Jack

On most cars, the spare and jack are stored together in the trunk. On some trucks and minivans, the spare is located underneath the vehicle in very inconvenient places. Just getting the spare tire out and can take some time. Find them and get them out and ready to use.

Loosen the Lug Nuts

Included with the jack will be a tool that serves as the lever to operate the jack and tool to loosen the lug nuts on the tire. Before you jack the car up at all, loosen the lug nuts on the flat tire. The weight of the car will keep the tire from spinning when you try to break the nuts loose. Just loosen them; don’t take them off.

Raise the Car

After you loosen the lug nuts, it’s time to lift the car. Place the jack under the car at a point near the flat tire, but in between the tires on the same side. Look under the car for a solid spot on the frame to position the jack. Start to raise it until it makes contact and you can feel it take the weight of the car. Look underneath again and make sure the jack is positioned well and won’t slip. Once you’re ready, jack the car up until the tire turns freely and take the flat tire off.

Put on the Spare

Once you have removed the flat, put the spare tire on. Once it’s in place, put the lug nuts back on and hand-tighten them as far as you can. Use the tool you removed the lug nuts with to tighten them. Do this in a star pattern—meaning, tighten one, then tighten the one across from it rather than right next to it. This will help the tire settle securely on the hub and make sure all the lug nuts are tight and flush.

Lower the Car

After you have tightened the lug nuts, lower the car. Once it’s down, take the jack out from underneath and give all the lug nuts one more turn to make sure they are secure. Put all the tools back into the trunk with the flat. Lastly, take the flat to RNR Tire Express, a preferred tire store in Rock Hill, SC, to get yourself a new tire.

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