Welcome back to the fourth installment of the Two Twenty One Car Series! Today I’m showing how to change a spare tire. This is definitely something you should practice with your car before you ever have the misfortune of getting a flat tire while out on the road.
As always, keep in mind that your tire jack, lug nut wrench, and spare tire mechanics may be different than mine. Specifically, my car has a scissor jack stand.
If you have a flat you should obviously pull off onto the shoulder of the road or, if you can make it, to a parking lot or rest stop without driving on your rim. Drive as short of distance as possible because the longer you drive on a flat tire, the less likely it’s able to be fixed. Try to park in a level spot otherwise the car could possibly fall on you once you get it up on the jack stand. Put on your hazard lights.
Once you’re parked, ENGAGE YOUR EMERGENCY BRAKE (also known as your e-brake, parking brake, or hand brake). Even if your car is on the slightest incline it could shift on the jack stand and fall. That’s super dangerous, and it could end up being very costly in the cheddar department. Seriously, put the emergency brake on.
Now, locate your spare tire. Mine is under the back cargo area of my SUV. Some cars’ spares are mounted underneath the back of the car.
Spin the metal nut so you can remove the spare tire.
Remove the spare tire. Once you remove the spare you should you’ll be able to reach the jack stand and lug nut wrench kit.
You’ll also find step-by-step directions in this kit. Don’t let those blow away.
Take the jack stand and lug nut wrench out of the kit. Start opening the jack stand. The lug nut wrench doubles as a lever for the jack stand. Insert the lug nut wrench into the correct end of the jack stand and begin turning the wrench to open the stand.
Start to loosen the lug nuts on your tire. The lug nuts are easier to loosen while the tire is on the ground so that’s why we’re doing this step now.
This may require some elbow grease, or should I say foot grease? Attach the lug nut wrench and carefully stomp on the wrench arm to loosen the lug nuts. My fashionable husband will demonstrate:
Finish loosening the lug nuts with the wrench by using your hands.
Don’t remove the lug nuts all the way, just loosen them. You’ll finish taking them off once you get the car on the jack stand.
Position the jack stand under the appropriate spot. Many cars have indicators to show you where to put the jack stand. Mine has an arrow. I conveniently added an arrow to show you the arrow.
P.S. Sorry I didn’t wash my car before taking these photos. I’m 95% sure that’s mud/dirt.
There’s a little groove that your jack stand should fit into under the car.
Turn the lug nut wrench to open the jack more. Keep turning until the tire is off the ground.
Finish removing the lug nuts. Remove the tire. Set it down on the ground with the rim facing up. This way you don’t risk scratching it.
Now it’s time to put the spare on. There’s a trick to this because the spare is heavy and you have to get it on the studs. Sit down facing the car with your legs straddling the wheel well.
Grab the tire and put it on your legs. Lift the tire up and put it on the studs.
Put the lug nuts back on with your hands, and then tighten them as much as you can with the lug nut wrench. You’ll tighten them more once you get the tire back on the ground.
Here’s proof that I actually got out from behind my camera and assisted with the changing of the spare.
Lower the car back onto the ground.
Remove the jack stand. Tighten the lug nuts with the lug nut wrench as hard as you can.
Now your spare tire is on. Put your busted tire in your trunk, and you’re ready to go. Once you take your emergency brake off, of course.
Remember not to drive more than 50 mph on a spare. Also, don’t drive more than 50 miles on a spare. Get your tire fixed as soon as possible. If your vehicle comes with a full-size spare you can drive normally.
Check the air in your spare tire once a year. Could you imagine getting a flat tire, going to grab your spare, and it’s too low to drive on? That’s just adding salt to your already gaping wound.
Changing a spare tire with gloves is easier, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep a pair of gloves with your spare tire.
Of course you won’t have to worry about any of this if you’re fortunate enough to have AAA. I used to be on my dad’s AAA family plan, and it was pretty sweet. Too bad I was kicked off once I turned 24.
Have a spare tire changing story to share?