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Even with the technology found in modern radial tires, there remains an unfortunate group of motorists who will have a bad tire experience caused by an array of possible reasons. Often the most common reason for tire failure can be attributed to improper tire pressure. Since tire problems can really trump a journey, it is important that we all maintain the following knowledge pertaining to tire-changing troubleshooting.

Changing a tire is a relatively easy, step-by-step process. These instructions must be completed in an orderly fashion to assure both a quick and safe continuation of your journey.

first think safety

In the heat of the moment, especially in situations where darkness and severe weather conditions come into play, your goal will undoubtedly be to throw on a spare tire as quickly as possible. While it is in your best interest to complete your work in the shortest amount of time, this action could be dangerous if done in a rushed, haphazardly way. Besides rushing to finish an unfamiliar task roadside, there exists a potential for serious injury or even death if a motorist doesn't practice a few basic safety measures first.

While you may not always have the option, when you get a flat tire focus first on parking the vehicle over a level, solid surface. Due to your deflated tire, when coming to a stop it's important to apply the brakes slowly while maintaining a firm grip on the steering wheel at all times. It's also important to stop along a relatively straight part of the roadway to maximize your visibility of other motorists, and ensure their knowledge of you on the side of the road. Once you’ve stopped your wounded vehicle, apply the parking/emergency brake to anchor the car securely. Make sure you put the vehicle in park with an automatic transmission or first gear with a manual transmission to further prevent the car from rolling. Before stepping out of the vehicle, be sure to turn on the hazard lights to warn other motorists that your car is stopped.

It's recommended that you invest in either a set of flares, warning lights or reflective markers. This should cost you no more than Rs 500 at your local hardware store. Any one of these warning devices will act sufficiently to caution fellow motorists of your stopped vehicle and give them plenty of time to react. In an emergency such as a flat tire replacement, place the flares, warning lights or reflector devices about five car lengths in front of and behind the vehicle to clearly mark your roadside work area.

Make sure you have the right tools and get your hands a little dirty.


The right tools

Almost all modern vehicles are fully equipped to deal with a flat tire emergency with tire-changing kits neatly packaged in the trunk. Normally, this emergency kit includes a spare tire -- please note that this tire is not meant to be driven on for any real length of time and is meant only to get you to the nearest garage for a full tire replacement -- a jack and a lug wrench. Some vehicles may even come with a tire iron to be used with the lug wrench. While the vehicle's spare tire kit is essentially designed for a one-time use as the do-it-yourself mechanic that you are, you will certainly outfit your garage with some advanced tire-changing equipment. A hydraulic floor jack, torque wrench and jack stands are likely additions to your home service center and can even be carried in larger vehicles if you so desire. Finally, your vehicle's owner manual will prove to be an invaluable tool, so keep it in your glove box.

After you’ve taken all necessary safety measures and identified the correct tools needed for the job, you can start changing your vehicle's tire.

After the vehicle is securely parked, begin by removing the wheel cover with either the flat edge of a tire iron or by unfastening retaining nuts, depending on your vehicle’s configuration. If you don't have wheel covers -- also known as hubcaps -- start at the next step.
With the wheel cover removed, loosen the wheel's lug nuts or bolts without removing them from their studs. Depending on the vehicle, there will either be a total of four or five lugs holding the wheel in place. Turn your wrench counterclockwise and be prepared to throw some weight and muscle onto the wrench. Chances are an air gun was the last tool used to tighten those nuts.
Consult your owner's manual for the proper jack positioning beneath your car before lifting the car. This is extremely important and you can cause serious structural damage to your car if you do not place the jack properly. Avoid placing the jack on any axle or suspension piece. It's crucial that the ground under the jack be a flat, solid surface. Gravel, mud or grass just won’t be strong enough to hold the weight of your car and the jack will sink into the ground. If a solid surface isn’t an option, find a piece of plywood to place beneath the jack to act as a firm surface. Once you’ve positioned the jack correctly, lift the car until the tire is approximately 1 inch off the ground and the tire is visibly relaxed on the springs and struts. For an emergency roadside change, jack stands are not required as long as you aren't placing yourself underneath the vehicle. However, do-it-yourself mechanics may opt for the added security while changing a tire at home.
After the car is lifted, finish removing the lug nuts from the wheel. Be careful with the removed wheel nuts and try not to lose them since you will be needing them to fasten the new tire.

Carefully, avoiding any possible debris or damage, remove the flat tire. Even though the tire is “flat” be aware that the tire is still heavy and depending on your vehicle and muscle strength, it could require some work to remove.

If you're using a temporary spare tire you might welcome the fact that it's much lighter than a conventional tire. Roll the tire to the desired location despite its light weight. Keep in mind temporary spare tires are exactly that -- temporary. You'll find the specifications in the owner's manual or on the temporary tire's sidewall for speed and distance you can travel. The tire should get you home or to a nearby service center.

Lift the tire into position, and holding the new tire in position begin refastening the lug nuts by hand using a crisscross placement for four-lug wheels and a star pattern for a five-lug wheel.
Once the wheel has been fastened properly, lower your car down gently disengaging the jack. Never let your car fall to the ground as it could be detrimental to the vehicle and hazardous to you. Finish tightening the lug nuts on the wheels once the car is firmly on the ground. While you want to be sure to tighten the lug nuts as much as possible, don’t injure yourself or push the wheel nuts too far as you may break the tool or damage the nuts. This is a temporary wheel after all and is not meant for days of driving, long distances or high speeds.
If you're installing a new tire at home, use a torque wrench to tighten each wheel nut to the manufacturer's specifications, which can be found in your owner's manual. If you mounted a permanent tire you can also reinstall the wheel cover.

Back on the road

Emergency tire changes may soon become a lost art (or lost torture) for future motorists. Tire manufacturers Goodyear, Pirelli and Michelin have featured puncture-resistant "run-flat” or “zero-pressure” tire technology on vehicles for manufacturers such as BMW, Lexus, Rolls-Royce, and even MINI. While this no-tire-change feature may seem idyllic, it won’t be an option that's in everyone’s price range. Until run-flat tires become an affordable reality, practice proper tire change etiquette and make sure you don’t skip any steps along the way.