How Long Does It Take To Change A Car Tire?

A flat tire can happen at the most inconvenient times. Thankfully, changing a flat tire is a common repair that most drivers are capable of doing on their own. With the right preparation and tools, you can change a car tire in 30 minutes or less.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk through all the steps involved in changing a flat tire safely and efficiently. Whether you are stuck on the side of the road or changing a tire in your garage, use this guide to change a flat tire like a pro.

How Long Does It Take To Change A Car Tire?

Preparing to Change a Tire

Before you get started, there are a few key things you need to do to prepare for a safe tire change. Following these preparatory steps will make the process smoother.

Gather Necessary Supplies

First, ensure you have all the supplies and tools needed. Here are the basics:

  • Spare tire in good condition
  • Lug wrench that fits your lug nuts
  • Jack and jack stand
  • Gloves for protection
  • Road flares or reflector triangles for visibility
  • Flathead screwdriver or pry bar

Check that your spare tire is properly inflated. The tire pressure should match the recommended PSI printed in your owner’s manual or the sticker inside the driver’s door jamb.

Your lug wrench must properly fit your lug nuts. It is dangerous to use the wrong size wrench.

Park on Level Ground

Pull over on a flat, level surface when possible. Avoid changing a tire on an incline which can be hazardous.

Turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers. If it is night, use flashlights or flares to illuminate your vehicle.

Chock the Wheels

Chock the wheels that are still on the ground. Place sturdy wheel chocks or bricks both in front and behind the tires diagonally opposite the flat tire.

Chocking the wheels prevents accidental rolling which could cause injury.

Securing the Vehicle

When the vehicle is prepared for a tire change, the next step is using the jack to safely raise the vehicle.

Position the Jack

Refer to the owner’s manual to locate the designated jack points on your vehicle’s frame. Often, a jack point will be indicated with a triangle marker.

Position the jack directly under the jack point, ensuring the saddle at the top fits securely to the vehicle’s frame.

Raise the Vehicle

Turn the lever or crank to lift the vehicle. Raise it just high enough so there is sufficient space to remove the flat tire.

Typically, 6-12 inches of ground clearance is ideal. Do not lift the vehicle higher than necessary.

How Long Does It Take To Change A Car Tire?

Place Jack Stand

With the tire off the ground, place one jack stand underneath a solid jacking point. This provides an extra layer of safety in case the jack fails.

Slowly lower the jack until the vehicle settles onto the stand. Leave the jack in place as an added precaution.

Removing the Flat Tire

With the vehicle raised and secured, it’s time to remove the lug nuts and flat tire.

Loosen the Lug Nuts

Using your lug wrench, loosen each lug nut by turning counterclockwise one full turn. Do not fully remove the nuts yet.

Loosen the nuts in a star pattern going around the tire for optimal stability.

Raise the Vehicle Slightly

Pump the jack to lift the vehicle another inch or two. This will allow the tire to clear the wheel studs as it comes off.

Remove the Lug Nuts and Tire

Finish unscrewing the lug nuts by hand until they are completely off. Place them in a secure spot where they will not get lost.

Carefully pull the wheel off the hub and set it aside.

Mounting the Spare Tire

Once the flat tire is successfully removed, it’s time to put the spare tire on.

Inspect the Brake Rotor and Hub

Take a close look at the now exposed brake rotor and hub assembly. Make sure there is no debris stuck that could interfere with mounting the new tire.

Pick Up the Spare Tire

Lift the spare tire into position in front of the hub. The valve stem should be facing outward.

Align the Tire

Align the lug holes on the wheel with the wheel studs on the hub. The tire must sit flush against the hub.

If needed, gently bounce or shake the tire into place.

Hand Tighten Lug Nuts

Put the lug nuts back on by hand, turning them clockwise. Tighten them as much as possible with your fingers.

Go across in a star pattern to ensure even contact.

Lower the Vehicle

Crank the jack handle counter-clockwise to slowly lower the vehicle onto the newly mounted spare.

Remove the jack stand once the tire is touching the ground.

Torque the Lug Nuts

With the spare tire installed, there is still the critical step of properly tightening the lug nuts.

Tighten in a Star Pattern

Using the lug wrench, tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern by applying equal pressure.

Do 2-3 cycles going around the wheel to ensure even tightness.

How Long Does It Take To Change A Car Tire?

Torque to Spec

Finish tightening the lug nuts to the torque spec in your owner’s manual using a torque wrench. This prevents over or under-tightening.

Insufficient torque is a major reason for wheels coming loose. Do not skip this step. Most specs fall between 70-100 foot-pounds.

Retighten After 50 Miles

Always re-torque the lug nuts after driving on the spare for 50 miles. The wheels can settle under driving, requiring tighter torque.

Storing the Flat Tire

Once the spare is on your car, there are a couple options for the flat tire:

  • Leave it in your trunk if there is room
  • Securely fasten it to the roof or rear tailgate with straps or rope

Driving any distance on a flat tire can damage the wheel beyond repair. Never drive with a compromised tire.

Instead, call for a tow or arrange alternate transportation if needed to get the tire repaired or replaced.

FAQ’s on Changing a Car Tire

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about changing a flat tire:

How Long Does It Take to Change a Car Tire?

With practice and the right preparation, most flat tires can be changed safely in 30 minutes or less. The process involves removing five lug nuts, jacking up the vehicle, mounting the spare, lowering the car, and proper lug nut torque. Taking safety precautions adds time.

Where is the Jack Point on a Car?

The jack point is a reinforced area on the vehicle’s frame designated for the jack. Consult the owner’s manual to find the designated jack points. For most cars, it is under the doors or near the juncture of the fender and door. Jack points are often marked with an arrow or triangle on the frame.

What is the Lug Nut Torque Spec for My Car?

The proper lug nut torque spec depends on your vehicle make and model. Most fall between 70 and 100 foot-pounds of torque. The exact lug nut torque spec for your vehicle should be listed in the owner’s manual. Using a torque wrench ensures proper lug nut tightness.

Can I Change a Tire on a Hill?

It is not advisable to change a tire on an incline or hill for safety. Find a flat, level spot to jack up your car when possible. If absolutely necessary on a hill, chock wheels securely, engage the parking brake, and work carefully. Consider calling for assistance.

What Do I Do After Putting on the Spare Tire?

After mounting the spare tire and torqueing the lug nuts, the final steps are to stow the flat tire in your trunk or fasten it to the exterior of your car. Immediately proceed to a tire shop or auto garage to have your flat repaired or replaced. Re-torque the lug nuts again after driving 50 miles on the spare.

Changing a Flat Tire is Within Your Abilities

A sudden flat tire can be an annoyance, but is also a common repair most drivers can tackle themselves. The keys are working methodically, using the proper tools, taking safety precautions, and torqueing the lug nuts correctly. With this step-by-step guide, you now have the knowledge to change a car tire like a pro when you find yourself on the side of the road. Stay safe and drive confidently knowing how to change a flat tire on your own.

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