Last updated on January 8th, 2024 at 01:27 pm
In the US, where every household has at least one vehicle for transportation, 20% of drivers are still unaware of how to change tires properly. And this lack of knowledge may put various lives at risk.
One of the many chilling examples includes the recent wild accidents in New Jersey due to loose tires. If you own a vehicle but don’t know the tools and process to change tires, you must read this comprehensive guide.
Here, we’ll discuss the step-by-step method of changing car tires and the precautions needed. That way, you can ensure your and others’ safety, fulfilling your duty as a responsible citizen.
Table of Contents
12 Simple Steps to Change Car Tires
- Pull your car to a safe location
- Turn on the hazard light
- Apply the parking brake
- Place wheel wedges or chocks behind wheels
- Remove the hubcap (wheel cover)
- Loosen the lug nuts
- Position the jack to lift the car
- Remove the flat tire
- Mount the spare tire
- Put on the wheel nuts
- Lower the car
- Tighten the lug nuts
Pull your car to a safe location.
The first step in changing a car tire involves pulling the car to a safe location far from traffic, preferably sidewalks. Moreover, the surface should be flat and level.
Turn on the hazard light.
Hazard lights are yellow flashing indicators you can turn on to warn other drivers or road users. It will enhance your visibility and will let others know that you are in the process of changing the tire of your vehicle. Hence, they should proceed with caution. You can also use road flares or triangle reflectors for this purpose.
Apply the parking brakes.
Next, engage the parking brakes. It will prevent the car from rolling. This step is crucial as a safety measure before replacing the tires.
Place wheel chocks behind wheels.
Wheel chocks are wedges or blocks made of plastic, wood, or metal and coated with rubber compounds for a firm grip on the ground. Placing these behind the wheels of your vehicle during a maintenance task prevents the car from rolling.
It’s an optional step. However, we recommend following it because parking brakes primarily work on rear wheels; the front wheels can still move, which isn’t safe. Using wheel chocks in addition to parking brakes adds an extra layer of safety.
Remove the hubcap (wheel cover).
Now, remove the hubcap or wheel cover of the tire you want to change. Hubcaps are decorative disks you can see on the tires of vehicles. Besides giving an aesthetic look, car owners use hubcaps to protect tires from dust and mud splashes.
Use a flathead screwdriver if your car has flat-type hubcaps. However, a specialized tool called hubcap removal will be suitable for bolt-on or deep hub caps. It’s an elongated metal piece with a curvy end to pry off the hubcap without damaging or scratching the wheel.
Loosen the lug nuts.
Take a lug wrench or tire iron to lose the lug nuts of your car tire. Ensure the tool is rotated to about one-quarter turn in a crisscross pattern. It will lose the nuts enough that you can take them off by hand. However, you don’t need to remove the lug nuts entirely at this step.
Position the jack to lift the car.
After loosening the nuts, lift the car to access the tire you want to change. You’ll need a jack, a mechanical device used to lift the vehicle during maintenance.
Position the jack under the frame near the changing tire. However, it’s wise to refer to the user manual for the best spot to place the car jack.
After finding a suitable place, lift the car to about 6 inches above the ground. If you sense any imbalance, you can plus or minus the inches.
Remove the flat tire.
Now, it’s time to entirely remove the lug nuts and free the flat tire from the vehicle. You may do it using your hands as the nuts are already loose.
Mount the spare tire.
Take the new tire and mount it on the vehicle. It’s a crucial step that demands your complete attention. Seat the new tire on the wheel hub properly.
Put on the wheel nuts.
After aligning the tire on the lug bolts, it’s time to screw the nuts back into the wheel. Tighten the lug nuts by hand with as much force as you can.
Lower the car
Lower your vehicle using the jack until the tire touches the ground at a stable position. Do this gradually to avoid putting sudden weight on tires.
Tighten the lug nuts.
Use a lug wrench to screw the nuts tightly. Ensure each nut is securely attached so the wheel can’t lose and fly off during driving.
Check tire pressure
Lastly, check the new tire pressure using a gauge and confirm the readings with your user manual. If it’s within the recommended psi, you’re good to go.
Changing Motorbike or Dirt bike Tires
Changing a motorbike tire requires a different method. So, if you own a motorcycle or a dirt bike, you must learn how to change tires on this type of vehicle. Here’s how to change motorcycle tires at home.
- Gather necessary tools
- Lift the bike
- Deflate and remove the tire
- Separate tire from rim by breaking bead
- Lubricate the inner walls of a new tire
- Fit new tire on the rim
- Partially inflate the tire
- Reattach the wheel to the bike
- Inflate the tire to the recommended pressure
Gather the necessary tools.
Start by gathering the tools you’ll need for the process. It includes the following:
- Tire irons or wrench
- Bead breaker
- Valve stem or core tool
- Jack or bike stand
- Pry bars
Lift or raise the bike.
The next step involves lifting the bike to a few inches so you can easily access the tires. You may use a bike jack or a stand for this purpose.
Deflate and remove the tire.
Use a valve stem tool to release the air pressure from the tire. This step will make it easy for you to detach the tire from the vehicle. However, avoid completely deflating the tire. After doing this, use wrenches or tire irons to unscrew the wheel nuts, allowing the tire to come off the bike.
Break the bead.
Now, it’s time to separate the tire from its rim. It means you need to break the tire bead using a bead breaker. These tools will pry off the bead without damaging the rim.
Apply lubricant to the new tire.
After removing the flat or damaged tire from the rim, the next step is to attach or fix a new tire on the same rim. For this, spray the inner walls of the tire with soapy water or specialized silicone-based tire lubricant to ease the fitting process.
Fit lubricated tire on the rim.
First, use your hands to fix the tire on the rim. When it’s seated, use pry bars to push the tire walls into the rim. Repeat this process on other points of the tire.
Inflate the new tire.
Add pressure to the tire using an air pump to ensure that the bead has been fixed properly. However, don’t inflate it fully. You need to continue pumping until you hear a popping or snapping sound.
Reattach the wheel to the bike.
After the bead is firmly seated, attach the wheel to the vehicle. Screw the nuts of the wheel using a wrench. Ensure the nuts are tightly fastened so the tire will not lose stability during driving.
Inflate the tire to the recommended pressure.
The last step for changing a motorbike tire involves pumping the tire to the recommended psi. You can confirm the accurate readings from your user manual.
How Do You Change ATV or UTV Tires?
The procedure for changing ATV tires is the same as changing motorcycle tires. However, ATV or UTV tires may be more challenging due to their heavier nature, especially during the bead-breaking step.
The beads of heavy-duty tires are more stubborn and thus hard to lose and break. You may need access to breaker tools explicitly designed for big and heavy tires. Hence, it’s recommended to seek professional assistance rather than doing it yourself.
Which tool is used to change a tire?
A torque wrench or lug wrench is used to change the tire. It can be cross-shaped or L-shaped. The X, or cross-shaped wrench, has four arms extending from a central point. Each arm has a socket that fits over the lug nuts. In contrast, an L-shaped wrench has only two arms. The short arm is a handle, and the long arm captures and turns the lug nuts.
How long does it take to change a tire?
It takes around 15 to 25 minutes to change a tire. However, it varies, depending on the person’s experience, knowledge, and availability of required tools.
How do you change tires on a golf cart?
Changing a golf cart tire is similar to changing tires of other machinery like lawnmowers. You must detach the tire, break the bead, and reinstall a new tire on the rim.
What is the cost of changing a tire?
The cost of changing a tire ranges from $30 to $150. However, it may vary depending on the region, type of vehicle, and additional services included.
How many years do tires last?
It depends on the brand, tire type, driving style, maintenance routine, weather, and terrain. Generally, family car tires last up to 5 years or 70,000 miles. In contrast, ultra-high-performance tires wear out fast, covering only 30,000 miles.
It’s time to wrap up our detailed discussion on “how to change tires.” Hopefully, we have addressed all your concerns, whether you are an off-road adventurer looking to replace a tire on your ATV or a casual driver seeking expert advice on changing a car tire. So, the next time you experience a flat tire or are just doing a seasonal tire-changing task, follow the right procedure instead of guessing, which will be safer for you and other drivers on the road.