How To Fix a Flat Tire in 10 Easy Steps

I received a call from a friend one day. She was stranded with a flat tire and she wanted me to pick her up. When I arrived, she told me she'd called her husband and he had agreed to change the flat later that day once his work day was finished. This plan meant that her husband would have to drive home, pick her up, and drive her back to the car so she could drive it home. When I suggested that we change the flat ourselves, she looked at me as if I had two heads.

Why is it that many women think this kind of thing is "man's work"?

Having grown up in a household of males (I was the only girl of five kids), I could toss a football, swing a baseball bat, and climb trees with the best of them. I guess that's why I'm not afraid of tackling jobs that other women might shy away from. (On the other hand, it could be that I'm just strange.)

Every woman should know how to change a flat tire. So here are some simple instructions. You will need: a spare tire, a jack, a lug wrench—all of these items should be in your trunk.

1.     Park on a flat surface and engage the emergency brake. Think about it. You don't want the car to roll while you're changing the flat. If it's at all possible, brace the opposite tire with something heavy (a block of wood, a large rock, a brick, etc). For example, if your front passenger-side tire is flat, brace the front driver-side tire.
2.     Remove the hubcap. Most newer-model cars don't have hubcaps, but if your car is older, you'll need to remove the hubcap so you can access the lug nuts. If your car doesn't have hubcaps, skip to #3. If you do have hubcaps, use the flat side of the lug wrench to pry off the hubcap, prying in several locations rather than all in one spot. Think of the hubcap as a clock face; pry at 9 o'clock and then 3 o'clock, then 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock, then noon. Prying the hubcap off all in one spot might bend the cap.
3.     Loosen the lug nuts. (Remember! Turn in a counter-clockwise direction. Leftie loosie, rightie tightie.) This is going to be the most difficult part of the job. Lug nuts are always TIGHT and it will take all of your strength to loosen them. Use the lug wrench and physics. Apply pressure to the furthest end of the wrench (as you would a lever). Loosen but DO NOT REMOVE the lug nuts (yet).
4.     Time to jack it up! Check your owner's manual for proper placement of the jack. Make sure the jack is firmly connecting with a solid part of your car's frame, the metal undercarriage, close to the flat tire. Once you've got the jack in place, crank the handle until the flat tire is lifted off the ground several inches.
5.     Remove the lug nuts and slide off the flat tire. Lay the tire flat on the ground; you don't want it rolling into traffic (just imagine the screeching brakes, swerving cars, mayhem!).  
6.     Line up the holes of the spare with the bolts on the axle. Don't be surprised if you have to jack up the car a bit more—the air in the spare will make it taller than the flat tire. Slide on the spare as far as it will go and then hand-tighten the lug nuts onto the bolts.
7.     Use the lug wrench to tighten the bolts, and when I say tight, I mean TIGHT! You don't want the vibration of the car to loosen the bolts.
8.     Lower the car and remove the jack from underneath the car frame. Put everything into the truck: the jack, the lug wrench, the flat tire, the hubcap.
9.     Drive to the nearest car repair shop or your favorite mechanic. Have the flat tire fixed OR buy a new tire. You don't want to drive around on the spare as it might cause road-wear on the other 3 tires. When installing the new/repaired tire, the mechanic will probably use a compression gun to tighten the lug nuts.
10. Feel proud that you've changed a flat all by yourself!

I used my flat-tire-fixing experience in a book. In the opening scenes of Mountain Laurel, two sisters are driving in the mountains when they run into trouble--yeah, they have a flat, but the "trouble" is a sexy forest ranger named Michael Walker who shows up and starts being a bit bossy. lol

Is this a job you think you can now try to tackle? I sure hope so! If you've already changed a flat (good for you!!!), do you have any wild and crazy war stories to share?    

3 comments:

Dalene Rodman said...

I agree, women can change tires, I am the oldest of three and I only had one brother and he was the baby of the family. We were taught to change tires, check oil, change oil, change spark plugs etc... My most crazy story is being 18 yrs old and very pregnant, my exhusband had put wide tires on our 1966 mustang, to wide, I had been out to the lake visiting my parents and was on my way home and on the highway when I had a flat, I had to change it right there on the side of the highway at night and being very pregnant. But I did it. :)

Dr. Amour said...

It is not so much that I think it is a man's job... it is that it is dirty, icky work that would muss my manicure :)

Cait said...

Ok, that is why I drive around with a portable air compressor. :)