How to Change a Flat Tire in Eight Easy Steps

If you're wondering how to change a flat tire, rest assured that it is a relatively straightforward process as long as you follow the steps carefully. A tire change can be summed up by removing the hub cap, jacking up the car, removing the flat tire, replacing it with the spare tire, and lowering the vehicle. You may want to learn how to change a flat tire by practicing at home.

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Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about home, life, and car insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, researching investigative pieces, and crafting detailed, data-driven features. His works have been featured on CB Blog Nation, Flow Words, Healing Law, WIBW Kansas, and C...

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent

UPDATED: Dec 2, 2021

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The Rundown

  • Changing a flat tire can be summed up in removing the hub cap, jacking up the vehicle, removing the flat tire, replacing it with the spare tire, and lowering the vehicle
  • It should only take between 15 and 30 minutes to change a flat tire on your own
  • Repairing your tire with a DIY kit may cost between $5 and $50, while taking it to a repair shop may cost between $5 and $60

If you are a driver, you should know how to change a tire. Even though you have a cell phone that you could use to call roadside assistance, what if your phone is dead or you’re in an area without a nearby cell tower?

Take some time to read the article below on how to change a flat tire. You may also want to practice your skills at home.

If you want to find a car insurance policy that will help cover repairs or provide roadside assistance, enter your ZIP code into our free quote comparison tool above.

How to Change a Flat Tire on a Car

Before beginning, you should gather the equipment that you will need. Your vehicle should already have what you need:

  • An inflated spare tire
  • A jack
  • A lug wrench
  • The car’s owner’s manual

In most cars, the spare tire is stored under the trunk’s floor mat. In larger vehicles, the spare tire could be mounted on the tailgate or under the car.

Here is a step-by-step guide to changing a flat tire.

Step 1: Make sure you’re safe

If your tire goes flat while you are driving, do not brake or swerve too suddenly. Activate the car’s hazards on to let other drivers know to give you space when passing you on the side of the road. Slowly pull over to a straight stretch of road with a wide shoulder where you can easily be seen by oncoming traffic.

Pull as far over to the right as possible. If you can exit the highway and find a parking lot, even better.

If you are stuck on a highway, you should apply the parking brake to make sure your vehicle does not roll. If you have tire wedges, you can place them in front or behind your tires. You can also use large stones or sticks if you don’t have wedges.

Step 2: Remove the hubcap or wheel cover and loosen the lug nuts

If the lug nuts on your tire are covered, you will have to remove the hubcap. You should be able to use the flat end of the lug wrench to remove it. However, if you need help with this step, you can consult your owner’s manual.

Once the lug nuts are exposed, you can use the lug wrench to loosen them. Turn the lug nuts counterclockwise until they are loosened (about one-quarter to one-half of a turn). Do not remove the lug nuts all the way.

Step 3: Jack up the vehicle

Don’t worry if you don’t know how to jack up a car to change a flat tire.

Place the jack under the vehicle next to the flat tire. There should be an exposed metal area on the vehicle’s frame, but you can consult your owner’s manual to make sure you put it in the right spot.

If you have a piece of wood that you can place under the jack, this will prevent the jack from sinking into the ground if it is soft or tilting under the weight of your car.

Once the jack is in the correct position, turn it clockwise until it lifts the flat tire about six inches off the ground. Also, make sure that you do not put any part of your body under the car while it is jacked up.

While it isn’t the recommended method, a flat tire can be changed without a jack. Stack solid items underneath the car’s axle close to the flat tire and then slowly dig a hole around and underneath the flat tire until the car is resting on the materials under the axle.

Step 4: Unscrew the lug nuts and remove the tire

Unscrew the lug nuts that you previously loosened and take them off the tire. You can then grip the tire by its tread and pull it toward you and off the car.

Step 5: Mount the spare tire and hand-tighten the lug nuts

Put the spare tire on the car by lining up the lug bolts with the tire’s rim. Next, put the lug nuts onto the lug bolts and tighten them as much as you can with your hands.

Step 6: Lower the vehicle and finish tightening the lug nuts

Lower the vehicle enough so that the spare tire is touching the ground, but most of the car’s weight is still on the jack. Next, use the lug wrench to tighten all of the lug nuts. You want to tighten them as much as possible, so you can lean your entire body weight on them if necessary.

Step 7: Finish lowering the vehicle and replace the hub cap

Bring the car back down to the ground and remove the jack. You can give the lug nuts one more tightening to make sure they are secure.

If the hub cap fits your spare tire, you can put it on the same way you took it off. If it doesn’t fit the spare, you can put it away with your equipment.

Step 8: Put away your equipment and check the spare tire’s pressure

Once you’re done putting the spare tire on, put away all of your equipment. Checking the pressure on your spare tire is recommended. Temporary spares should have 60 psi.

That’s it. You’re all done changing your flat tire.

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How long does it take a change a flat tire?

It doesn’t take very long to change a flat tire, even if you don’t have much experience with it. For example, the above steps could take you between 15 to 30 minutes. 

It may be beneficial for you to practice changing a tire at home to feel more confident doing it on the road when needed.

How much does it cost to have a flat tire changed?

The cost to change a flat tire depends on which method of repair you choose.

A simple DIY tire repair kit that contains essential tools and plugs may cost between $5 and $20. A more sophisticated DIY kit that includes sealant and a tire pump or air compressor to inflate the tire may cost between $20 and $50.

Having your tire repaired at a repair shop may cost between $5 and $60 depending on the type of tire, where you purchased the tire, and other factors. Some shops may offer free flat tire repair for past customers or who belong to a customer loyalty program.

A replacement tire could cost $50 – $200 for a car, $60 – $350 for a standard tire on a pickup truck or SUV, and $110 – $750 for an all-terrain tire.

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