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how to change a flat tire

Most of us will experience a flat tire at some point in our driving lives. Sure, you could call a tow truck. Or you could roll up your sleeves and fix it yourself.

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A step-by-step guide to changing a flat

Here are the tools you'll need to change your tire:

  • A spare tire (of course)
  • A jack (to lift the car)
  • A lug nut wrench or tire iron (to remove and tighten the lug nuts)
  • A tire block (to keep the car from rolling)

The first 3 items come with your car and are usually stored in the trunk. The tire block doesn't come with the car, but we recommend buying one and storing it with the other tools.

Calling in the cavalry

 

If at any point you feel unsure, call a roadside service provider for help. If you have emergency road service (ERS) on your Esurance policy, this is a great time to use it. Call the number on the back of your ERS card or use your smartphone to access Esurance Mobile's "nearby shops & services" feature.

Step 1: Find a safe place to pull over and turn on your hazards.

Shut off your engine and engage the parking brake.

Don't attempt to change your tire on a hill — that whole rolling thing could be pretty dangerous. If you're on the freeway, try to exit rather than change your tire on the shoulder. But remember that driving on a flat tire will damage the rim so use your best judgment.

Step 2: Get the tire block in place.

To avoid rolling, place the tire block under the tire on the opposite corner of the one you're changing. So, if you're changing the front right tire, the block would go behind the back left one.

Step 3: Remove the hubcap/wheel cover and loosen the lug nuts.

Use the lug nut wrench (what else?) to loosen all the lug nuts (lefty-loosey), but don't remove them just yet.

Step 4: Lift the car with the jack.

Check your manual to find the best spot to position the car jack before you begin (each car model may be different), and make sure the ground is stable under the jack. Use fluid, even strokes when lifting the car. The wheel should be completely off the ground.

Just a reminder: never put your body underneath a car lifted by a car jack in case the vehicle slips off.

Step 5: Remove the flat tire.

Take off the loosened lug nuts and put them to the side. Remove the tire slowly, using both hands. Lay the tire down flat so it doesn't roll away from you.

Step 6: Put on the spare tire.

Glide the spare tire onto the tire bolts, pushing it back as far as it can go.

Step 7: Replace the lug nuts.

Put the lug nuts back on the tire bolts in an alternating star pattern. Tighten them by hand as much as you can (righty-tighty). You'll secure them more completely with the wrench in a moment.

Step 8: Clean up.

Slowly lower the vehicle. Give each of the lug nuts one last clockwise turn with the wrench to make sure they're secure, and replace the hubcap or wheel cover (if you have one). High five yourself. You're now ready to drive.

Driving on your spare tire

Because spare tires aren't designed for long-term use (as you can tell by their funny look), drive slower than normal and immediately head to a tire dealership or repair shop to find a replacement tire. Many spare tires have a max speed written somewhere on their surfaces — stay under it to avoid a blowout.

On the road again

For added safe-driver bonus points, print this out and keep it with your spare tire kit. If you'd like to find out more about Esurance's emergency road service coverage, give us a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262) anytime, day or night.

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Related link

How to handle a blown tire
If a tire blowout happens to you, here's how to steer yourself to safety.

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The information provided is intended for informational use and is provided as accurate to the best of our knowledge. Esurance is not to be held responsible for the content or the use of the information by you the reader. The information is offered "as is" for information purposes and without warranties of any kind either expressed or implied. If you use this information you release Esurance from any and all liability.