With AAA, roadside assistance, and the decreasing ability of people to fix and maintain their own vehicles, there are a lot of people on the road today who don’t know how to change a tire. Removing your wheel and replacing it with your spare may seem like a daunting task, but with this guide from D & E Service Center in Andover, NJ, you’ll have the knowledge you need when you find yourself in a bind.
While many aspects of the auto repair have become too complicated for just anyone to tackle, replacing a tire has remained more or less unchanged. With a little patience, elbow grease, and willpower, anyone can install a spare tire.
Safety is the main concern during this procedure. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual and any labels around your spare tire/jack/tools before attempting to change a tire. These instructions will outline the procedure and provide you with correct jack points and operations.
Make sure your vehicle is on solid, flat ground before you begin, out of the way of traffic. Next, put your vehicle in park (or into gear, for vehicles equipped with a manual transmission.) Engage the parking brake. Next, locate the lug nut removal tool. Before lifting the vehicle, it’s best to break the lug nuts free first. They will most likely be tight; it’ll take some effort to break them loose. Once you feel a lug nut begin to turn, move on to the lug nut directly across from the one you just broke free, repeating the process in a crisscross pattern until all the lug nuts have been popped loose. The idea is to have them loosened slightly before the wheel is off the ground so that the wheel isn’t trying to turn while you remove the lug nuts.
Next, place your jack underneath the designated jack point for that wheel. Raise the jack until it securely engages the jack point, making sure it is resting flat on the ground and applying pressure directly to the point. Slowly raise the jack until the wheel lifts off the ground, just a few inches above the pavement is fine. If at any point the vehicle shifts, the jack begins to tilt, or anything else occurs which you think might be of concern to your safety, let the vehicle back down, recenter the jack, and try again. Never push your luck.
Next, finish removing the lug nuts that you previously loosened and set them aside. Pull the wheel directly off the vehicle; it may simply fall off, or it may be slightly stuck. If it’s stuck, attempt to break it free from the hub by grabbing both sides of the wheel and firmly wiggling it free.
Once the wheel is removed, have your spare tire ready to install. Hold it up, line the lug bolts up with the holes, and push the wheel flat against the hub. The spare may be heavy, and this may be a little tricky. Have patience and don’t get frustrated, it’ll go on. Begin installing the lug nuts in a criss-cross fashion - the first finger tight, then with the lug nut wrench. Don’t tighten one lug nut down as far as you can before moving to the next. Turn the wrench a few times, then move to the next one across from it and repeat until all the lug nuts are tight. The objective here is to spread even torque, or tightness, across all lug nuts to make sure the wheel is evenly and securely fastened.
Slowly lower your jack, then tighten the lug nuts one last time, trying to match the tightness (torque) they were installed with. Once you feel like they are as tight as they were when you took them off, you’re done! Put your equipment back in the vehicle and be on your way. Remember to disengage the parking brake.
The most crucial thing to remember is safety. Never put your legs, head, arms, or any body part under the vehicle while it is sitting on a jack. It may be tempting to put your legs under the vehicle in an attempt to leverage the spare onto the wheel hub but avoid doing this. Any shift or jack malfunction can cause the vehicle to drop on top of you, leaving you with an incredibly serious injury or worse. Pay attention to the vehicle and don’t assume it won’t fall.
Spares are only intended for emergency use. Don’t exceed the speed limit indicated on the tire, and don’t keep the spare on any longer than it takes you to get to a shop. If you feel the vehicle shaking or swaying after a spare tire installation, stop and recheck that it's installed correctly and the lug nuts are tight.
To recap; park the vehicle, break the nuts free, jack up the vehicle, remove the nuts, remove the wheel, install the new wheel, and tighten the lug nuts back down incrementally in a criss-cross pattern, then lower the jack, all the while being sure not to endanger yourself by putting your body in the way of potential harm. This article may make the procedure seem complicated, but it’s only thorough to answer any questions you may have along the way.
Once you are in motion again, bring your car, truck or SUV to D & E Service Center and we will take care of installing a new tire for you. Our technicians will inspect the rest of your tires too - if one tire blew, the rest are likely not far behind. We will reinstall your wheel for you, inspect for any other damage, and properly torque your lug nuts, having you back in shape in no time. We’ll be here when you need us!
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