Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

How to Change a Tire, Complete With Hacks and Mistakes To Avoid

An art that depicts a man changing a flat tire.
Genevieve Poblano/Digital Trends

An unavoidable part of owning a car involves running into trouble like getting a flat tire. Now, you can always pay someone else to fix it, but knowing how to change a tire is a lifesaving skill if you get a flat tire in the middle of nowhere. So, if you’re casually wondering about how to change a tire and hoping for a long-winded, loquacious, even redundant introduction that winds about lazily in lyrical circles before getting to the point, then you’re going to need to look elsewhere.

First, we’ll do a quick rundown of the basic steps to changing a tire. Then we’ll cover the finer points. If you have time, read this whole article before getting to work. If not, let’s get to work!

Related Guides

Changing a Tire 101

  1. Get your vehicle onto stable, level ground. Even if it means driving a few more feet on the flat, this is imperative.
  2. Using a tire iron (should be with the car’s spare; note the potential need for a specialty attachment for one of the bolts on the tire), loosen all of the nuts (or bolts, depending on wheel type) on the flat before jacking up the vehicle.
  3. Place the jack under a part of the vehicle specified as safe in the manual — place it wrong, and you may damage the car, or you may damage yourself as the car falls on you.
  4. Jack the car up high enough that you will be able to remove the flat and also get the replacement tire on.
  5. Remove the nuts completely, then pull off the tire.
  6. Put on the spare (or full replacement) and partially tighten the nuts.
  7. Jack the car back down, and now fully tighten the nuts.

Now get on your way! I mean first put the flat, jack, and tools back in the trunk, but then off you go.

Tire Changing Hacks

With a few good tools, changing a car tire need not be all that much of a chore. Any new car should have all the stuff you need included, but to make things easy on yourself, consider getting these three items, just in case:

  • — This will make raising the car faster, easier, and safer.
  • — This will make the lifted car more stable and minimize the chance of it falling on you.
  • — This will make removing even the most stubborn nuts easier.

For nuts that are stubbornly stuck in place, you can try loosening them with something like WD-40, but if you don’t have a can of that on hand, you can also loosen nuts by heating them up. A jet flame lighter (or small blowtorch…) works best, but even a regular lighter can help.

And if you want to plan ahead, keep an  in your car at all times. It will make tire changing after dark so much easier than using a flashlight or your phone’s light.

Avoid These Tire Changing Mistakes

Never ever change a tire on a hill. Or on loose ground. Or on the road itself.

Never loosen nuts or bolts on a car that’s already jacked up; it will very likely fall.

Never change a tire when the car is not in park and with the parking brake engaged, and always get all passengers out, too. (This reduces weight and also keeps them safer.)

Don’t force a nut or bolt, you will get it stuck even worse and may end up needing to call help anyway. Fully remove a bolt that’s sticking and then try putting it back on afresh. If it’s sticking, back off before it gets stuck.

Steven John
Steven John is a writer and journalist living just outside New York City, by way of 12 years in Los Angeles, by way of…
Maserati MC20 Icona and MC20 Leggenda celebrate the MC12 race car
Maserati announces two Special Series cars to celebrate famed performance cars
Celebrating the MC C12 with the Maserati MC12 GT1 Vitaphone, MC20 Leggenda, MC12 Stradaleand MC20 Icona with the newer cars in the foreground.

Maserati MC20 Icona and MC20 Leggenda Maserati / Maserati

Maserati's role in all-electric Formula E racing reflects the company's long history in motorsports. Maserati recently introduced two limited-edition Maserati MC20 super sports cars that celebrate Maserati's iconic MC12 race car. Maserati will build 20 each of the MC20 Icona and MC Leggenda Special Series vehicles.
Why Maserati celebrates the MC12 race car

Read more
2025 Audi Q8 RS and Q8 RS Performance: Unleashed powerful SUVs
One of these cars holds the record as the fastest SUV at the Nürburgring.
2025 audi q8 rs and performance parked on a helicopter landing pad with mountains in the background

Audi unleashed its two most powerful gas-powered SUVs, the 2025 Audi Q8 RS and Q8 RS Performance. Adding two additional layers of potency to the already mighty Audi Q8, the RS variants offer choice to those willing to pay the extra price. The Q8 RS Performance is not a track car but see below for its record-setting run at one of the most famous circuits in the world.
Why the Audi Q8 RS and Q8 RS Performance matter

The Audi Q8 RS and the new-for-2025 Q8 RS Performance are both products of Audi Sport GmbH. The Audi Sport division is responsible for high-performance road cars, custom vehicles, and most motorsports. Audi Formula Racing GmbH handles the Audi Formula One team, which will begin competing in 2026.

Read more
Aston Martin Valiant: Road-legal race-car inspired by Fernando Alonso
F1 driver ordered a custom Aston Martin that turned into a limited edition.
Aston Martin limited edition Valiant road-legal race car at Q New York left front three-quarter image.

Two-time Champion Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso commissioned a personal car with Q by Aston Martin, the cleverly named bespoke decision of the  British luxury performance automaker. Alonso's exclusive track-focused but road-legal sports car was special enough that Q by Aston Martin created Valiant, a special edition limited to just 38 vehicles. Alonso based his wilder performance-focused vision on the Aston Martin Valour.
Why is the Valiant such a big deal
Aston Martin Valiant | For Your Sins
As a current driver for the Aston Martin Aramco Formula One Team, Fernando Alonso is familiar with the latest technologies in the elite motorsport. His years of experience and up-to-date expertise came into play when commissioning a personal car, which likely figured large in Q by Aston Martin's decision to create the series. Some of his choices, such as minimizing or deleting anything that interfered with driver connection and focus, make the Valiant a driver's car, not just a fast car with fancy features and nice paint and finishes.
The Aston Martin Valiant's special features

Even just listing Valiant's multitude of fascinating performance-focused features is beyond the scope of this article. I'll call out the major bits since everything about the bespoke Valiant is special. The Valiant's twin-turbocharged 52-liter V12 engine produces 735 hp and 555 lb-ft of torque. Alonso specified a six-speed manual transmission.

Read more