Changing Flat Tires in the Winter

A flat tire is never a welcome experience, but it can be even more complicated when it’s cold outside and there’s snow or ice on the ground. You may remember the flat tire scene from the movie “A Christmas Story” when all the lug nuts went flying. Even though Ralphie’s dad was just about a pro at changing a tire, searching through the roadside slush for all those lugs slowed him down big time. Anyone less adept could have turned into a popsicle—or fudgesicle!

Put Together a Winter Flat Tire Kit

To change a flat tire in winter, there are several things to consider. First is how the cold will affect not only you but the working conditions, too. It also gets dark earlier in the winter, so you’re more likely to have a flat when there’s not enough light. Thus, the flat tire kit that you keep in your trunk will need to adapt.

Here are some items that we’d suggest adding to your toolkit:


You’ll need a pair of warm gloves that can still let you grip the tire iron while wearing them. Your driving gloves, if you wear any, may not be warm enough. A pair of latex or rubber gloves worn under your tire-changing gloves will help keep your hands dry in slushy conditions.

A small tarp

It’s a good idea to set out your tools and small parts on a small tarp—preferably in a bright color to keep everything visible and easy to find—to avoid losing anything in the snow or puddles. Plus, you can knee on it.


It could be raining when you get a flat. Keep more than one poncho on hand in case anyone else stops to help you.


A little extra heat from these convenient little pouches can help ward off frostbite.

Winter socks

Get an extra pair with insulating materials, such as wool or alpaca, in case you’re wearing dress socks or accidentally step in a big, cold puddle.

A working flashlight

Check every so often to see if the light and batteries still work in this flashlight—especially since it’s being left in a cold vehicle.

Lubricant spray

If your lug nuts are rusty or stuck for any reason, you may be able to loosen them with some lubricant.

Always Dress for the Weather

Even if you’re getting into a thoroughly warmed up automobile, make sure that you wear or bring clothes that are appropriate for the outdoor temperatures. While it’s feasible to have a pair of gloves and some socks in your trunk, you probably won’t be keeping your favorite, toasty winter coat and scarf in there.

When Should You Call a Tow Truck?

Sometimes, the combined cold and wet conditions throughout the winter can cause the lug nuts to rust and become stuck. Even with all your body weight and plenty of spray lubricant, you may not be able to loosen them.

If you’re not up to the task of changing your own tire, there’s no shame in calling someone for help. As mentioned, be sure to keep some supplies in the car to keep you warm and comfortable until the tow truck gets to you.

Once you have changed to your spare tire or called the tow truck, you’ll need to head to the nearest dealership to repair your flat tire. You may want to consider replacing all your tires if the flat was due to tread wear. In that case, for an easy tire buying experience turn to SimpleTire where you’ll get free shipping and fast delivery on every tire.

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