We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How do I Change a Flat Tire?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Changing a flat tire is not incredibly difficult, but the proper equipment and following the correct procedure can make the process easier and safer. You should be sure you have a spare tire, a car jack, and a tire iron or lug wrench to properly remove the tire and replace it with a spare. It is typically best to replace a tire on pavement, and you should be sure the area is flat. You can then use the jack to lift the vehicle, remove the flat tire, replace it with the new one, and lower the car before going on your way.

In order to replace a flat tire, you need to be sure you have the proper equipment, which you should always keep in your vehicle. Three things are essential to the process, and without any one of them you may find yourself calling a tow truck. You need a spare tire, either a compact spare or a full-size spare, a jack, and a tire iron or lug nut wrench. If you need to replace a flat tire, then the first thing you should do is pull to the side of a road and be sure you are not obstructing traffic.

You should also be sure to come to a complete stop on a flat, paved area, put your vehicle in park, and engage the emergency brake. Sloping ground can potentially lead to vehicle damage or injury from the vehicle rolling off the jack. Dirt is typically less effective for jacking a car up than pavement. You can begin by using the tire iron to loosen the lug nuts on the flat tire, but not completely remove them. This can be more difficult than it sounds, since these are often tightened by powered equipment, so you will likely need to put some real effort into loosening them.

Once you have the lug nuts loosened, you can then place the jack under the proper location for your vehicle. It is also advisable to use a large, heavy object, such as a brick, to block the tire opposite of the one you are replacing, to better avoid any chance of your vehicle rolling. You can determine the proper location for a jack on your vehicle by consulting the owner’s manual for your vehicle. Use the jack to raise your vehicle until the flat tire clears the ground.

You can then completely remove the lug nuts, which you want to keep handy, and pull the flat tire off. The spare tire then can be placed onto your vehicle by lining up the holes on the tire with the wheel studs. You should then put the lug nuts onto the spare tire, but do not tighten them excessively. Use the jack to lower your vehicle back onto the ground, and then tighten the lug nuts as much as you can. If you are using a compact spare tire, then it may be a bit smaller than your others and likely has a speed limit for driving on it; full-size spares do not have such a limitation and can be used like any other tire.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Inaventu — On Oct 04, 2014

One thing I'd tell people about fixing a flat tire is that there's no clean way to do it. Loosening the lug nuts isn't too bad, and even getting the car jacked up can be done cleanly if you're very careful. But pulling off the old tire and sliding a new one onto the wheel studs is going to be a dirty and sweaty operation, assuming it isn't also raining or snowing.

Also, it pays to check out the condition of the spare tire once in a while. I had to change a tire for a driver stranded on the side of a highway one time, and she said she had one of those emergency "donut" spare tires in the trunk. It turned out to be flat, since she forgot to have it repaired after the last blow-out. I ended up driving to a gas station to have the spare replaced, and then had to go back out to finish the flat tire repair. It was a long day.

By Cageybird — On Oct 03, 2014

Try not to make the same mistake I did when I tried to fix a flat tire for the first time. My car had a jack that had a metal base. The ratcheted part was supposed to fit in a hole in the middle of that base. I just put the ratchet on the ground near the tire and started jacking it up. I wondered why the wheel wasn't being lifted off the ground.

It turned out that I was really driving the bottom of the jack into the ground. Without the base attached, it was just a stake. I felt really dumb when I had to call my dad to the scene and he knew right away what I had done.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.