Everything I Need to Know I Learned at RNR—How to Change a Flat

Okay, not exactly everything, but we can teach you some of the most important things you need to know to keep yourself safe on the road—like how to change a tire!  Maybe you’re thinking, “Bree, I don’t really want to know.  I want to call someone else to do it for me.”  Fair enough, but there are some things you ought to know how to do just in case, even if you never have to use them.  This little lesson can be printed out, tucked into your glove compartment and retrieved as needed.  I’m going to keep this one simple but know that I also have one that includes smocks and power tools to make your life easier and save your wardrobe.

  1. First, know where your spare tire is located and the tools to change it.  Most often you will find your spare tucked into a little compartment under the floor of the trunk of your car.  Your tools will probably be there as well, but they could also be in a little compartment on one side of your trunk or the other.  On a truck, the tire is usually underneath the truck, and the tools could be in the back, in the cab or even under the hood.  You may want to do a little investigating beforehand.
  2. Retrieve the jack and place it correctly.  You may be a little worried about this step, so here are some tips.  Put the jack under the frame near the tire you’re going to change.  Don’t put it on your car’s plastic molding (if it has plastic molding) or you’ll crack the molding.  Lots of newer cars have a notch just behind the front wheel wells or in front of the rear wheel wells that tell you where to place the jack.  If you’re not sure, consult your owner’s manual.  Jack the car up by either turning the crank or pushing the lever up and down.
  3. Once you get the tire far enough off the ground that it turns without a problem, use your lug wrench to remove the lug nuts (remember: righty tighty, lefty loosey) and put them somewhere safe, like your pocket, the front seat, a cup holder, or anywhere they won’t roll away and get lost.
  4. Pull the tire straight off the wheel, and be aware that it’s going to be heavy.  If you have to drop it, try your best to move your toes and drop it straight down so that it lands rubber to road, the same way it would if you were driving it.  Roll it out of the way and lay it flat on the ground.
  5. Take the spare and match the holes up so that they fit onto the lug bolts on the wheel and slide the tire on.  Again, it may be heavy so put some elbow grease into it.
  6. Screw the lug nuts back on by hand first, then use the lug wrench to give them an extra squeeze, but don’t tighten them all the way just yet.  Lower the car back to the ground using the jack, and then tighten the bolts, making sure they’re evenly tightened by tightening one and then moving to the one directly across from it (diagonally).  Do the same with the other two nuts. Don’t forget to remove the jack.
  7. Pack your tools up, put your old tire into the place where your spare was held, and put the tools back where you found them or you know you’ll never find it all if you need it again.
  8. Hightail it to RNR for a free flat repair (yep, we do that!) or a new tire, if the old one is beyond repair.  RNR will not only congratulate you on a job well done, we’ll get you back on the road safely, whether you need a repair or a new tire.

It can be a little scary when you’re out driving and you realize you have a flat tire, but don’t panic.  Try not to stop on a highway or freeway to change your tire, if at all possible, as these are dangerous places to be outside of your vehicle.  Try your best to get to an exit and change your tire there.  Keep these instructions in your glove compartment with your insurance info and registration for a quick reference—you’ll be back on the road and on your way to RNR for your free tire repair ASAP!  Just so you know: If you get your tires on the RNR Rent-n-Roll plan, they come with 12 months free roadside assistance , so you could just call the 800 number and let someone do the dirty work. Stay safe!

Bree