Fix A Flat

By Eric Christensen

March 17, 2014 5 min read

Follow these steps to change a flat tire on your car:

1) Stay calm and slowly decelerate. Find a flat, safe area to work where the flat tire is on the side of the car opposite the street.

2) Put your car in park, turn off the engine and engage the parking brake. Take a deep breath and relax.

3) Gather your spare tire, car jack and lug wrench. If unsure of their location, check your owners manual.

4) Remove the hubcap if necessary. Turn lug wrench counterclockwise to loosen lug nuts using a star pattern (move to the lug nut across the tire from the one just loosened). If necessary, stomp on the lug wrench to loosen the lug nuts. But don't remove the nuts.

5) Locate a small notch or mark to the inside of the wheel well, or find a metal portion of the car's frame to position the jack. Avoid plastic molding because the jack will crack it. Raise the car using the jack.

6) Remove the lug nuts, collecting them in the hubcap or in your pocket.

7) Remove the flat tire. If the tire is stuck, kick one side of the tire to loosen it.

8) Place the spare tire onto the hub.

9) Tighten the lug nuts by hand, once again using a star pattern. Do not fully tighten the lug nuts just yet.

10) Lower the car only until the tire can't spin. Use the lug wrench to completely tighten the lug nuts, once again using the star pattern. Replace the hubcap if necessary.

11) Fully lower the car. Remove the jack. Place it and the flat tire in your trunk.

12) Drive to a mechanic to repair or replace your tire. Avoid high speeds if you are driving on a "donut" spare tire.

Follow these steps to change a flat tire on a motorcycle:

1) Stay clam and slowly decelerate. Apply brakes only to the non-flat tire. If your brakes are linked, be extra cautious. Find a flat, safe area to work. Turn off the engine.

2) Take a deep breath and relax. Alert anyone else riding with you.

3) If the tire is bald, if the sidewall is punctured or if the tire damage is star-shaped or a long tear, call a repair shop or a tow.

4) If the damage was caused by a puncture, you can fix it, but be sure to first look for multiple punctures.

5) Are your tires the tube-type or not? The tube-type will require extra effort and more room to work.

Tube-type repair:

1) First, use your jack to raise the motorcycle. Remove the tire using the appropriate wrench.

2) Avoid cans of Fix-A-Flat or sealant. They might leak into the space between the tire and the tube, causing the tire to come apart.

3) Remove the offending object (pull out nails, but unscrew screws).

4) Remove the valve stem to deflate the tire and tube.

5) Break the bead of the tire using a bead breaker or a boot heel. Protect the rim as you work, pulling the tire away from the rim using a tire iron.

6) Remove the tube. If punctured, repair it using a patch kit, or replace it.

7) Re-insert the tube and the valve stem. Partially inflate the tube.

8) Slip the tire back onto the rim. Reattach the wheel and re-inflate completely.

Non-tube type repair:

1) Remove the offending object (pull out nails, but unscrew screws). Clean the puncture with liquid.

2) Work your flat kit's rasp in and out of the wound. Then apply rubber cement to the rasp and repeat.

3) Apply rubber cement to the vulcanizing ring of the plug. Insert the plug into the hole until the ring is no longer visible. Or use the installation tool to insert a rope-style plug until only a half-inch is visible. Twist the tool as you pull it out and up.

4) Dribble water around the plug. Partially inflate the tire using a pump or CO2 cartridge. So long as no bubbles appear around the plug, completely re-inflate the tire.

5) Cut the end of the plug or rope flush with the tire's surface.

6) Plugs and patches are only temporary fixes. Drive immediately but slowly to a repair shop to permanently repair or replace your tire.

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