Inflate Your Wallet: Fix Your Own Flat Tire

If you have driven a vehicle for any length of time, you have probably experienced a flat tire. For some individuals, such as those who frequently pass through construction zones, this may even be a common occurrence. On average, a properly repaired tire should cost at least $20. If a person needs multiple tire repairs in a year, not to mention potential towing costs, fixing flat tires can easily cost hundreds of dollars per year. How those costs can be reduced by learning to fix your own flat tires.

Equipment. In order to properly, and safely, fix a flat tire, you need to make sure that you have the right equipment on hand. This involves making sure that your vehicle is equipped with a tire jack, tire iron and a spare tire. Even if you know that your vehicle has this equipment, you need to periodically check the condition of the equipment. It is especially important to make sure that your spare tire is properly inflated. Knowing how to fix a flat tire will be of little assistance if your spare is also flat.

Safety. Vehicles today weigh thousands of pounds. While tire jacks are designed to lift up your vehicle safely, they can only be as safe as the surface on which they are used. Therefore, never attempt to change your tire if the vehicle is parked on an incline, or if the car is on gravel or dirt. Doing so can be extremely dangerous, as the jack will not be as stable as it would be on flat, solid pavement. If you can, move the car to flat ground. If that is not possible, then waiting for a tow truck may be your only option.

Changing the tire. The next step is actually changing the tire. Using the tire iron, loosen the lug nuts that hold the tire on the wheel…but do not remove them. Once they are loosened, use your vehicle’s owner’s manual to determine where the jack should be placed underneath the car. Then, following the instructions in the manual, or on the jack itself, lift the car so that the tire is not touching the ground. Remove the lugs and take the tire off, replacing it with the spare. Once you have the spare in position, screw the lugs on by hand. This will ensure that you line the threads up correctly. Once you have the lugs threaded correctly, use the tire iron to tighten them until the tire is securely, and tightly, in place. Then lower the jack until the tire is supporting all the weight of the car. At this point, using the tire iron, tighten the lugs as tightly as you possibly can.

Repair. Once the tire is changed, you will want to make sure that the original tire is repaired. One option is to use a tire plug kit to fix it yourself. However, most experts recommend taking it to a service station to have it properly patched. This ensures the safest repair possible.