The inconvenience of a flat seems disastrous at the time, but if you remember your steps—and we cannot stress this enough—in the right order, you can be up and running in about 20 minutes.
- Pull off the highway to a relatively safe spot where you can work. Open the trunk.
- Familiarize yourself with the jack, the tools, the spare and the owner’s manual. Ideally you should have done this when you bought the car. If you didn’t, stop reading this article and do it now. It takes 10 minutes, which will save you 10 minutes when it really counts.
- Loosen the lug nuts with the lug wrench. Sometimes this means attaching the lug wrench to a nut so that you can stand on the handle of the wrench and use all your weight to loosen it. Lug nuts are usually very tight. Loosening lug nuts before you jack up the car may be the second most important step to remember.
- Jack up the car (make sure it’s in park), using the owner’s manual as a guide so you know where to place the jack.
- Get the car high enough so the tire is no longer touching the ground plus 3-4 inches. Take the loose lug nuts off, by wrench or by hand.
- Pull the flat and put on the spare. This step takes the most strength, and is most likely to mess up your clothes.
- Put on the lug nuts but do not tighten all the way. Just get them as tight as you can with your hand.
- Lower the car down to the ground using the jack.
- This is the most important step—tighten the lug nuts with the wrench as much as you can, again using the standing and bouncing method if you think it’s necessary.
This should get you on your way in the shortest possible time. You can figure out what went wrong with the tire later.