Skip to Content

Be Smart And Safe When Changing A Flat Tire While On The Road


A flat tire typically shows up unexpectedly and catapults itself onto the top of your priority list. It can happen to anyone at any time so it is best to be prepared, not only so that you can get back on the road quickly, but so that if you need to change a tire, you can do so in a safe manner.

Regardless of your situation, the basic mechanics of changing a tire are the same whether you are working with a car, truck, van, or SUV. Ideally, the best situation may be to have a professional change your spare tire so you can remain safe. Memberships to AAA allow for tire changing services at no cost. However, you will have to wait a period for the professional to meet you, which can be inconvenient if you are on the road or in a hurry.

Obviously, you will want to make sure you have a spare tire, and tire changing equipment like a jack and a wrench with you in the vehicle. Your spare tire will lose air while stored in the vehicle over time, so every now and then add the proper amount of air to it during routine vehicle maintenance. Always have a pair of gloves and a tire gauge in your vehicle as well. A mat for kneeling and rain gear is also recommended.

You should always keep an emergency kit with every vehicle you have in case you need to pull over to the side of the road at any point. This likely will include a flare, a large floodlight or flashlight, reflective signs, and more. Have a cell phone charger in your car as well so you can ensure you can contact someone if you need help.

If you must change the tire yourself, here is a step-by-step guide:

  • Find a safe place to pull over

The ground should be solid and level to keep your car from rolling. If you are on the side of the road, pull over as far as possible. Avoid stopping near any bends in the road, as this reduces visibility for both you and other drivers. If you are in a dark or unsafe area, carefully drive to a better spot. Use your floodlight or flashlight as needed.

  • Turn on your hazard lights and parking brake

Use your hazard lights and parking brake to keep yourself and your vehicle safe by increasing your visibility and decreasing the vehicle’s ability to roll.

  • Remove your tire changing equipment and loosen the lug nuts

If your vehicle has a wheel cover (also known as a hubcap), pry it off. Then, secure the wrench onto a lug nut, and turn it counterclockwise to loosen it. Repeat this process with each lug nut, making sure each one is loose enough to turn by hand.

  • Lift your vehicle off the ground

Place the jack under the metal portion of your vehicle’s frame. Do not place the jack where it will have contact with any plastic molding. The best jack placement differs depending on the vehicle. Consulting your owner’s manual is the best way to learn proper jack placement. Once properly placed, use the jack to raise the tire you are changing off the ground. Ensure the jack always stays perpendicular to the ground.

  • Remove the lug nuts and tire

Turn the lug nuts counterclockwise until they are all very loose. Next, remove them completely. Keep the lug nuts all together in a safe spot, as you will need them to secure the replacement tire. With the lug nuts removed, there is nothing keeping your tire attached to the vehicle. Securely grip your tire and pull it directly toward your body.  

  • Place the spare tire on the vehicle

Line up the holes in the spare with the lug nut posts and place the spare on the wheelbase. Push the spare as far onto the wheelbase as possible.

  • Replace the lug nuts

Put the lug nuts on so the spare tire stays put. Don’t tighten them all the way just yet. It is very important to tighten your lug nuts in a way that keeps the tire even.

  • Lower your vehicle and begin tightening

Using the jack, slowly lower your vehicle partway until your spare tire starts touching the ground. This holds the tire in place as you begin tightening the lug nuts. Tighten the lug nuts in increments, alternating every other nut to keep the tire on straight.

  • Slowly lower your vehicle completely and make sure the lug nuts are completely tightened

Once the lug nuts feel equally tight, completely lower your vehicle to the ground. Once grounded, you may be able to tighten the lug nuts a little bit further. Continue your tightening in the same incremental order until they no longer budge.

Finish up by putting your old tire in the trunk and cleaning up any tools you used. Depending on what’s wrong with it, your old tire might be salvageable. Bring it to a trusted mechanic who can test and possibly repair it.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an auto accident and needs legal advice, the team of experienced lawyers a Bashore Green can help. Contact us anytime to set up your free initial appointment. Remember, there is NEVER a fee for our services unless we help you collect the compensation you deserve.