When you get a flat tire, the first problem is knowing that you have one. A flat tire is easy to spot from the outside. But you can’t see the tire when you’re driving. While sudden losses of air pressure are easily noticed while driving, many flat tires result from slower air leaks and you may be driving on a dangerously low tire and not know it.
While driving, if you notice any difficulty in accelerating, vehicle handling (particularly when turning or changing lanes) or the car pulling to one side, you may have a flat tire. and that leads us to the first thing to do if you suspect you have a flat.
Bring the Vehicle to a Safe Stop
If you think you might have a flat tire, turn on your emergency flashers, lower your speed and make sure you can properly control the vehicle. Pullover at the earliest opportunity to a flat spot that is safe and away from traffic, and stop the vehicle. The longer you drive on a flat tire, the more chance you have of unexpectedly losing control of the vehicle. You also increase the risk of damaging your vehicle beyond just replacing the tire. Check for oncoming traffic before you get out of your vehicle to inspect your tires.
Inspect the Tires
Check all the tires on your vehicle. Even if you find one that’s flat, there may be others. When you run over sharp objects that cause a flat, the object often bounces under your car and damages a second tire. If you have two flats, you will need to call a tow truck company.
Jack-Up the Vehicle
If it is safe enough and you feel capable, you can try to change your tire. You will need to find and remove the car jack, tire wrench and spare tire from your vehicle. Check your vehicle’s Owner’s Manual for the positions around the bottom of the vehicle where you can place the jack. Put the jack under the position closest to the flat tire. Jack-up the vehicle according to the instructions in your Owner’s Manual to a point where the flat tire is still in contact with the road, but you can’t turn the wheel.
Remove the Flat Tire
With the flat tire still in contact with the road so that it can’t turn, loosen the wheel nuts. Before you loosen them all the way, jack up the vehicle so that the flat tire is well clear of the surface of the road. Finish removing the wheel nuts and remove the wheel.
Put on the Spare Tire
Place the spare tire over the bolts on the wheel hub. Put the nuts back on and hand tighten them. Tighten nuts that are opposite to each other, instead of tightening those that are beside each other. After hand tightening, lower the jack until the spare tire touches the road surface enough so that it cannot spin. Use the tire wrench to fully tighten each nut in the same order you hand tightened them. Check that the wheel is securely attached to the wheel hub. Lower the vehicle completely. Replace the jack, and wrench in their proper places and put the flat tire in your cargo area.
Most modern spare wheels are temporary “space savers” wheels that are only intended for limited, short-range use. You should drive your car to a facility that can repair your tire or install a new one as soon as possible. Do not exceed 80 kph when driving on a temporary spare.
If you are not confident in changing a flat tire, are in an unsafe location, or there are any other circumstances that prevent you from safely changing the tire, please call the Cardinal Towing 24-Hour Emergency Roadside Assistance number at 1-844-472-0426.
If you found this post helpful, check out our recent article “4 Tips for Road Safety in Winter“.