Many people belong to a roadside-assistance service, but if you're stuck in a remote area, you'll want to know what to do.
: Heavy tires, elevated and unstable vehicles, and nearby traffic can make changing your own tire extremely dangerous. Be careful, and always check your owner's manual first—directions may be different depending on the year, make, and model of your vehicle.
Step 1: Park on a level surface Make sure the car is parked on a flat, level surface far from any oncoming traffic, and engage the emergency brake. Turn on your hazard lights, and if you have roadside flares or a reflective triangle, use them to warn other drivers that you're working on your vehicle.
TIP: Consider keeping a canned tire sealant in your emergency kit. If your tire has only been slightly compromised, the sealant may patch it long enough to get you to the service station.
Step 2: Block the wheels Find heavy objects—like bricks or rocks—to block the wheels. Place them in front of and behind the tire that's diagonally across from the one that went flat. If you have plenty of rocks, block both wheels on the opposite axle.
TIP: If you have a digital camera (or a cell phone with a built-in camera) snap a picture before you start disassembling everything. That way, you'll have a ready reference guide of how things should look when they go back together.
Step 3: Assemble tools and remove wheel cover Lay out your spare tire, jack, and lug wrench. Many tires feature a locking lug nut to guard against theft. To remove, use the special key tool—the car's manual will specify where it's located.
Step 4: Loosen the lug nuts Most lug nuts follow the righty-tighty/lefty-loosey rule. Attach the lug wrench to a nut, and turn the wrench counterclockwise. Repeat with each lug nut until all the nuts are loosened.
Step 5: Place and operate the jack Refer to the owner's manual for the best spot to place the jack—typically along the frame, very close to the flat tire. Jack the car up until the wheel is off the ground.
: Never get under the car when it's on a jack. Since it's fairly unstable in this position, keep other people away until the car is safely on the ground.
Step 6: Remove lug nuts and tire Remove the lug nuts one at a time, and keep them together in a spot where they won't roll away or disappear. Then remove the flat.
Step 7: Mount the spare Mount the spare tire onto the wheel lugs. You may need to jack the car up some more to slip on the spare tire.
TIP: Check the tire pressure on your spare regularly. That way, it won't be flat when you need it.
Step 8: Replace lugs and lower the car Replace one lug nut at a time. Begin tightening each by hand, then continue with the lug wrench. Lower your car to the ground, and finish tightening the lugs in opposite pairs, to ensure uniform pressure. Once you're done, replace the hubcap.
Step 9: Clean up Remove the objects blocking the wheels, and place the tools and the flat tire in your trunk.
Step 10: Hit the road Your wheel is ready, but you won't be able to drive as quickly on a spare. Check your owner's manual or the tire itself to determine the spare's top speed, and get yourself to the nearest garage so they can patch or replace your tire!
FACT: In Texas Hold 'em, a "flat tire" means you were initially dealt a jack and a four – in any suit.