Life Lessons with Emily: Change a flat tire

Emily Farlow

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Chances are, at some point in your life you’ll be cruising down the interstate, an important class, meeting or interview to get to, when all of a sudden you feel the telltale “thump-thump” that signifies a flat tire. Who knows where you’ll be. You could be alone, with help umpteen miles away. Knowing how to change a flat tire is invaluable for college students, especially. Mom and Dad and Mercer Police won’t always be able to come to your rescue. Hopefully these easy-to-follow steps are, in fact, easy-to-follow, and will get you out of a tight situation in the future.
What you need:
A flat tire
A spare tire, which is usually located under your car, under your floor mat or is mounted on the back of the tailgate.
An air pressure gauge to check the air pressure of the spare tire. If your spare tire is flat too, you really are stuck.
A block to prevent your car from rolling away.
A jack to raise your car off the ground
A tire iron/lug wrench, which is the L-shaped bar that fits over the wheel’s lug nuts.
Brute strength
What you need to do:
Pull off onto a flat strip of road. Make sure you are far enough away from oncoming traffic. You already have a flat tire. Getting hit by a car will only amplify your problems. You also need to make sure you have enough room to change the tire. If you’re by a parking lot, this would be a great place to pull into.
Locate your spare tire, but don’t reach for it yet.
Remove the hubcap. This is the shiny covering that hides the ugliness that is your actual wheel.
Using your tire iron, loosen (but don’t remove) the lug nuts on the wheel by turning counterclockwise. Here is where your brute strength will come in handy, as the lug nuts are most likely very tight.
Place the jack under your car. Check your owner’s manual to see where it should go. Turn the jack clockwise until it touches the car, and continue turning until the wheel is far enough off the ground for you to change the tire.
Now remove the lug nuts from the wheel. Your hubcap is a good place to put them for now.
Take the flat tire off and lay in on the ground. Preferably flat, as you don’t want it rolling into oncoming traffic.
Remove your spare tire, and put in on the wheel, lining the holes up with the wheel studs. When it fits correctly, put your lug nuts back on and tighten them with your fingers.
Turning the jack counterclockwise, lower your car.
Now, using your tire iron and brute strength once more, tighten the lug nuts until they can’t possibly be tightened any more. They should be tightened in a crisscross pattern. Check your owner’s manual to see the correct sequence.
Remove the jack and store your flat tire and various tire-changing accoutrements in your trunk.
Drive carefully away, congratulating yourself on a job well done. Remember, your spare tire isn’t durable like a normal tire, so now is not the time to drag race back to campus.
Get a new tire or fix your flat tire as soon as possible, because you don’t need to drive on the spare for too long.

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