How to Change a Spare Tire

Nobody likes to get a flat tire, unfortunately it will probably happen at least one or more times in your driving lifetime and sometimes in the most inconvenient places such as the desert. That is where it happened to me on my Suburban with my family with two small kids at the time. I pulled off the road with my emergency flashers on and slowly drove to a safe place to change it, a tow truck was at least 3 hours away.

Everyone that owns a vehicle needs to know how to do this. Just about every vehicle manufactured comes with a spare tire.

The first thing you want to remember is to pull the vehicle to a safe place or off to the shoulder far enough to stay away from passing traffic or as I call it, "the text zone", this is the zone where people wander into when texting or distracted.

I know not too many people know what roadside flares are, but they help warn approaching drivers to slow down. You should always have them in your vehicle in the event of an emergency or if your vehicle becomes disabled while on the road.

In today’s fast paced life for of distractions and electronic devices it would be in your be interest to carry these road side warning flairs in your vehicle.

There are mainly two kinds of flat's, either the tire is very low on air pressure (almost flat,) but it is still able to roll or a blow out where the tire is completely out of air, this is a sudden even that gives you no time to react. If the tire is simply very low pull the vehicle to a safe place on level solid ground. Solid ground gives you a good place to set the jack onto when changing the tire.

Don't get hung up on the idea that you need to save the tire or rim, far too many times people try to save the tire and end up getting seriously injured or worse in the process. Most of the time when a tire is run very low the inner layers of the tire will breakdown rendering it useless anyway.

If have had a blow out drive slowly to a safe place, don't worry about saving the tire, it is already damaged beyond repair and has to be replaced. You are much off getting yourself to a safe place, just drive slow and use caution.

The vehicle will act a little funny, but it will make it. If the place you come to is not that safe, in other words if heavy traffic is buzzing by at 80 MPH never change the tire, wait for help from the highway patrol or local police, never endanger you or your loved ones because you are in a hurry. Sorry to scare you but safety needs a little scare every once and a while.

Watch this video to get the idea, then follow down the guide to gain additional tips and information which is updated regularly.

Now let's get started.

Step 1

Step 2

Remove everything from the trunk including the false bottom or spare tire cover, these locations will vary, but it will be mentioned in your vehicles owner’s manual.

Step 3

Now that the extra tire is exposed, there will be a lug wrench that will fit the tires lug nuts, it is a good idea to have a flat tire emergency road side kit, included should be a set of gloves which is highly recommended for this job.

Gloves are great because you can get your hands dirty remove the gloves and your hands are still clean, they also guard against cuts.

I prefer the latex gloves over vinyl or cloth for their superior usability, plus they are disposable. Take the lug wrench and set it next to the tire to be changed, and then remove the foam holder.

Step 4

This will expose the hold down which is a hand tightened long threaded screw that can be undone by turning it counterclockwise. Once removed the spare-tire can be lifted from the trunk. Right about now you are wondering if it has air, this is why it is always a good idea whenever you change your oil check it's air pressure.

This is common practice in our shop, every vehicle owner should have a small air compressor in their garage or work space like I do to check pressure.

Step 5

Grasp the tire firmly and lift upward to remove it from your vehicle and brace yourself as to not hurt your back, once removed set the unit on the ground.

Step 6

The vehicle jack which come standard with all vehicles will be held down with a mounting screw which is hand tight. Turn the screw counterclockwise until undone then remove the jack and place it near the body or frame where it will be lifted from.

Step 7

On the jack should be instructions on how and where to lift the vehicle, also in the vehicle's owner’s manual there will be exact instructions for your particular vehicle. Never assume where the jack goes because you can cause damage to the vehicle while lifting it.

Step 8

Once removed and near the tire to be changed, twist the jack handle counterclockwise to lower the jack. This will allow the jack to be placed under the vehicle in the position shown on the jack.

Step 9

Next, identify and locate the placement of the jack per the lifting instructions shown on the jack or in the owner’s manual. Some vehicles have an arrow on the lower body pinch molding that shows exactly where the jack is to be placed.  

Step 10

If the vehicle is not on level ground to prevent the vehicle from rolling or moving while on the jack you must position wheel blocks on the front wheels if you are changing the rear tire, if you are changing a front tire you must have the parking brake securely on.

Step 11

The jack must be on solid ground if you are on a soft roadside shoulder use large piece of flat wood for stability, you don't want the jack to sink into the soft ground while trying to hold the vehicle up.

Position the jack under the vehicle’s lifting area and start to wind the jack screw clockwise; this will raise the jack into position.

Step 12

Continue winding the jack upward but stop just short of the vehicle’s wheel getting off of the ground. If your vehicle is equipped with a wheel cover you must remove the wheel cover and loosen the lug nuts before the tire is free from the ground.

Some vehicles are not equipped with wheel covers or hubcaps if this is the case you can skip this step and continue to the next.

Step 13

Now the wheel lugs will be exposed, using the lug wrench you want to loosen the lugs by turning them counterclockwise. These will be tight and some weight must be used to break them loose, a bouncing motion works best, this is why you should push down on the lug wrench and never upward.

Pushing down will give you the leverage needed to get the job done, do not completely remove the lug nuts at this point, just one or two turns is all that is needed. If you cannot get the lugs loose try using your foot and stand on the lug wrench make sure the lug wrench is fully on the lug nut first.

Step 14

Once all of the lug nuts have been loosened continue extending the jack until the tire is completely off of the ground and ready for removal.

Step 15

Now you can completely remove the lug nuts and place them in a safe place, these can usually be removed by hand while holding the wheel inward to relieve the tension on the lugs, if they get stuck use the lug wrench to help.

Step 16

Now grasp the tire firmly and gently slide it off of the wheel studs. Once the tire is off, place it lying flat under the vehicle for additional safety until the spare is in place.

Step 17

Now grasp the spare tire and lift it onto the wheel studs while installing the lug nuts by hand, they go back on clockwise and keep going until all lugs nuts are back on.

Step 18

Now, use the lug wrench to tighten the lugs the best you can, once you have done this, lower the jack slightly until the tire just touches the ground which will hold it from rotating while you finish tightening the lug nuts.

Step 19

Double check the lug nut tightness with the lug wrench, then turn the jack handle counterclockwise to remove the jack from its position and install it back into the spare tire area, followed by the flat wheel so you can get it to a tire shop for repair or replacement.

Also see: How to jack and lift up your car safely

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