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How To Change A Flat

Back in the day, you know, your grandfathers time, most everyone knew how to do basic home and car repairs themselves. Nearly everyone owned a set of tools and knew how to use them. It was very much a can do attitude. Today things are far different. Many people don’t know even the very basics of car repairs, such how to change spark plugs and even more shockingly how to change a flat. Even if you have AAA, you should still always know how to do this basic task.

If you do have a flat the first thing you want to do is pull over somewhere face as fast as you can so you don’t damage your tires. It is true that now they have drive flat tires that allow you drive on a flat for a few miles but you still don’t want to push it.  Ideally you want to find an empty parking lot but at the very least use the side of the road.

If it is dark or bad weather conditions then turn your hazards on, be sure not to lock yourself out! Next put on your emergency break to keep the car from moving.  Finally pop your trunk and pull out your spare tire, jack and lug wrench.

There are a couple different common types of jacks but they all work basically the same way. The jack has a lever or crank that you turn to raise or lower the jack. Sometimes the lever is one end of the lug wrench and you insert it into the jack. You may have to experiment a bit until you figure the jack out. 

Place the flat part of the jack under the metal frame of the car. DO NOT put it under the plastic or fiberglass body. If you do and you raise it up it can crack the body or even collapse. Many cars have a notch on the metal frame specifically for jacks.  Place the jack on the inside of the tire, not on the outside near the bumpers. Pump your car up until the tire is several inches in the air. You need to leave room for the new tire to clear the ground.

This next part may be a little tough. It’s time to loosen the lug nuts. Place the socket on a lug nut and loosen it a bit. This may take a little work since it could be tight. Don’t loosen it very far though. Now go to the opposite nut and loosen it. Repeat this process until all are slightly loosened. This prevents the tire form putting torque onto the nuts.

Now unscrew the nuts all the way. Be sure to keep track of all the nuts! You don’t want to lose them. Slide the new tire onto the screws with the holes facing inwards, not outwards. Now put the nuts back on the same way you took them off. Tighten the a bit then do the opposite one. Now take the wrench and tighten them as much as you can. You want it tight.

Make sure everything is clear and lower the jack (usually by turning or pumping in the opposite direction but some jacks may have a little switch to flip first.) One the car is safely on the ground put your supplies back into the trunk. Release you emergency break and turn off the hazards and you are all set. See? That wasn’t so bad was it?

Jeff Jordan lives, breathes and happily lives in merry Orange County. He writes about life, irony, and automobiles. If you are in the market for used car specials then you might try Enterprise Car Sales


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