Tire maintenance & safety

How to Be Prepared for a Flat Tire

Last updated 3/09/2022 - Originally published 9/23/2020
Written by SimpleTire

Nearly everyone will experience a flat tire at some point. It may occur while the vehicle is in motion or while it's parked, but when it does occur, it renders a car unsafe for driving. Even with the advanced technology offered in contemporary radial designs, all inflatable tires risk the potential of going flat for one reason or another. Regardless of the reason, the most important question you can ask yourself is, "What do I do when I get a flat tire?"

While there are many people who know how to change a flat tire, there are also quite a number who don't even know where their spare tire is located or if they even have a spare at all. Anyone who plans to drive an automobile should make an effective plan of preparation for a flat tire, including the knowledge of how to change it. The first step is determining whether you have a spare and its location.

Road Side Assistance Services

If you live in the United States, you're probably well aware of the services offered by AAA, also known as The Automobile Club. Beyond discounts at various hotels and other establishments, AAA offers a roadside assistance program that's very helpful to the stranded motorist.

While there is no such thing as a fail-safe service, investing in an annual AAA membership or a similar service is a wise decision if you plan to operate your vehicle outside of your immediate and neighboring area. Most auto insurance companies also offer roadside assistance.

While a roadside assistance service such as AAA is a great option, there are circumstances in which it might not be enough. Whether you find yourself in a time crunch with a flat tire, or in a rural location far from a service professional, you need to be prepared to deal with a flat tire on your own.

Quality Spare Tires

The first things you should consider so that you'll be prepared in the event of a flat tire are the accessibility and quality of your spare tire. Many passenger vehicles sold in the United States come with a spare tire.

Some spare tires are located underneath the vehicle. This is a popular storage method on many SUVs. Some are located within the trunk, under the trunk panel. Regardless of where your spare tire is located, find it, familiarize yourself with the jack system associated with it, and ensure that the spare tire is properly inflated. Your local auto dealership can aid in this process. If you do not have a spare tire, ask your dealership professional which spare tire best suits your needs.

Changing a Flat Tire

If you got a flat tire today, would you know how to switch the flat out for the spare? All drivers should know how to change a flat tire. Before beginning, you should refer to your vehicle owner's manual to check for specifications about your particular kind of vehicle, such as the proper location for the car jack. These simple steps are a good starting point for understanding how to change a tire:

  1. Before lifting the car with the jack, find the flattest and most secure surface on which to place it.
  2. Before engaging the jack, partially loosen the lug nuts holding the wheel onto the car with the tire iron, or tire wrench.
  3. Once the nuts are loose, jack up the car high enough to easily remove the wheel.
  4. Remove the lug nuts in a star-shaped pattern.
  5. Exchange the wheel with the flat tire for the spare, placing the spare on the bolts.
  6. Replace the lug nuts, tightening by hand in the same star pattern you used to remove them. This will secure the wheel onto the vehicle without affecting the stability of the jack.
  7. Lower the jack and once the car is securely on the ground, tighten the lug nuts securely with the iron or wrench.

These steps are general and should not replace the knowledge of your specific vehicle's tire replacement recommendations. If you have run-flat tires and experience deflation, do not attempt to change your tire. Drive your vehicle at a reduced speed-50 mph for most run-flat tires to the nearest safe roadside location or service station. Contact your roadside assistance program or dealership for help.

Knowing what flat tire emergency equipment you have in your vehicle and being prepared for a flat tire can make your driving experience a more relaxing one.

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