Car Series: Spare Tire {How to Change the Tire}

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.

two twenty one car series

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.

locating a spare tire

Spin the metal nut so you can remove the spare tire.

removing spare tire from car trunk

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.

spare tire tool kit

You’ll also find step-by-step directions in this kit. Don’t let those blow away.

how to change a spare tire instructions

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.

using a lug nut wrench

car jack stand

jack 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:

how to remove lug nuts

Finish loosening the lug nuts with the wrench by using your hands.

tightening lug nuts

tightening lug nuts on spare tire

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.

how to put a car on a scissor jack stand

how to use a scissor jack stand

There’s a little groove that your jack stand should fit into under the car.

putting a car on a jack stand

Turn the lug nut wrench to open the jack more. Keep turning until the tire is off the ground.

changing a spare tire

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.

how to change a flat tire

Grab the tire and put it on your legs. Lift the tire up and put it on the studs.

how to change a spare

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.

how to put on lug nuts

Here’s proof that I actually got out from behind my camera and assisted with the changing of the spare.

photo (1)

Lower the car back onto the ground.

how to change spare tire

Remove the jack stand. Tighten the lug nuts with the lug nut wrench as hard as you can.

how to change a spare on a ford egde

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.

how to change a spare tire on a ford edge

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.

how to change the tire

Have a spare tire changing story to share?

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  1. Have I mentioned I love this series?

    The one time I’ve ever had to change a tire I couldn’t get the lugs loose! Luckily I was in town and a police officer helped me to loosen them. 🙂

  2. Thanks again for this series – it has been great. Luckily I have never had a spare tire – just dead batteries and really good roadside assistance! The one time I have been with any one with a flat tire was with my dad and we could hear the tire going flat and there was literally an America’s Tires across the street. He made it just in time before the tire was completely flat.

  3. I think you might have a mistype. Where it says “tighten as much as you can with the lug nut wrench”, that should be withOUT the wrench, right? I was taught to always fingertighten first to avoid crossthreading and then tighten with the wrench.

  4. Look at you changing a tire! Girl, you are fancy!! Thanks for the series again.

  5. Thanks for this! I have helped to change a spare, but never on my own. It’s good to be prepared!
    Fortunately, the last time I had a flat a State Trooper was nearby and did the dirty work for me. Who needs AAA? 😉

  6. I’ve had to change them a couple times and it’s really not too hard! Still, my favorite method is standing around looking confused and waiting for someone else to do it for me.

  7. Great post but one HUGE mistake. I would never put my legs under the car like that. If anything happened to the jack and the car fell you would lose both your legs.

  8. Hey, I was wondering what kind of lug nut wrench you use in the pictures. Ive never seen one like that before. Thanks.

  9. Changing a tire is a good thing for any car driver to know, men, women and teens. You never know when you might pop a tire and have no one around to help. I feel it is a right of passage we all need to go through.

  10. I agree I would not put my legs under the car in case they fell. I found a great tool I use call WheelGuider and it lifts, aligns and puts the tire an wheel on so easy without any strain and getting so dirty. It really seems to work exceptional. They only have the 1/2 inch size right now but looks like they are going to get the bigger sizes soon.

  11. Amy Perez says:

    Newbies should know some of the basic car maintenance and repairing tricks prior to obtain a driving license. Lack of such knowledge could be very dangerous for a driver. Apart from this, mechanical issues in the vehicle should be identified and fixed in time to prevent any major problem in the middle of nowhere. Routine maintenance of the vehicle is really essential to keep the vehicle in working order and any kinds of the problem should be fixed at its early stage by experienced and certified auto technicians.

  12. Shanika Rathnayake says:

    Tire is only component in a vehicle that comes in direct contact with the ground. So, it wears out frequently. Sometimes due to our rough driving tires become damaged. At times tires become flat. At that time we need to change the tires. If we have the required tools and basic knowledge about cars, then we can change the tires on our own by following the procedure mentioned in this blog. Otherwise we have to take the help of a certified car professional for changing the tires.

  13. At the beginning of last week, I changed my tires by myself. Actually, I don’t have much experience in this, and it became difficult for me. Thanks for your detailed instructions. Hope next time I will be more proficient in this changed my tires

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