How to change a flat tire in a pinch

Winter is upon us.

It’s the time of year when everyone’s feeling festive and asking one another questions like, “have you put on your winter tires yet?” Ah, to be Canadian.

Considering we change our tires twice a year to survive the seasons, learning how to change a tire can save you a ton of money. If you’ve only got one set of rims, you can expect to pay about $150 every time you need to swap out your tires. So, heading into the winter season, think of this as a cost-saving lesson that will not only help you with seasonal changes but keep you covered in the case of a roadside emergency.

You should also check your current policy for a Roadside Assistance program or sign up for one. This will help keep you safe no matter what happens on your adventures. For example, you’ll be able to make four emergency calls, each of which may include the following benefits:

  • towing up to 50 kilometers, much more than the standard range offered on the market
  • jump-starting your battery
  • unlocking your car doors
  • changing a flat tire
  • delivering up to 10 liters of gas at no charge
  • winching your vehicle out of mud

Close up image of car tire on an icy road

Step 1: Scope out a flat, safe place to stop and change the flat tire.

First things first, if a flat tire takes you by surprise you’ve got to find somewhere safe to pull over. This is important to ensure that both you and other drivers are aware of one another.


Step 2: Put your car into park, turn on your hazard lights and apply the parking brake.


Step 3: If possible, wedge a heavy object behind the front and rear tires


Step 4: Grab your spare tire and required tools.


Your tool kit:

Jack: This tool allows you to lift the car off the ground.

Tire iron: This specialized tool consists of a crowbar with a built-in wrench to help you remove your car’s wheel covers and lug nuts.

Place the jack under the car frame. It’s super important that the jack is touching the metal part of your car, not the plastic section.

You can also check out the auto manual which came with your car for extra help.

If you’re driving an older car that doesn’t include the manual you can look up “OEM” parts, or “original equipment manufacturer” parts.


Step 5: Raise the jack until it is supporting your car.

The point is not to lift the car (a jack does not equal superman!) Before moving on, make sure the jack is perpendicular to the ground (i.e. it’s sitting upright and not on an angle.)


Step 6: Remove the hubcap and loosen the nuts by turning them counterclockwise.

Remember, lefty loosey! You only want to loosen the nuts to lessen the resistance.


Step 7: Crank the jack to lift the tire off the ground.

Okay, fine, jacks are kind of like superman! Now it’s time to get that tire in the air.


Step 8: Remove the nuts.

Now that the tire is raised off the ground, you can go ahead and remove the nuts the rest of the way.


Step 9: Remove the flat tire.

It’s time to lift that bad boy right off! A tip: place the flat tire under the car next to the jack. In the event that the jack fails, the tire will help prevent injury.


Step 10: Place the spare tire on the hub.


Step 11: Start tightening the nuts by hand, making sure they are snug, then grab the wrench.

Once you’ve tightened the nuts by hand, go ahead and tighten them some more with the tire iron. You’ll want to tighten each one a little at a time, going in a circle so the tire remains balanced.


Step 12: Begin lowering the car, but don’t place full weight on the tire just yet.

Now it’s time to use your tire iron to tighten the nuts as much as possible.


Step 13: Lower the car completely and check to see if the nuts need any more tightening.

Hang on to your flat tire and bring it to a mechanic for a repair quote. Sometimes tires can be repaired for a reasonable cost.


Changing tires is just one of those things that seem difficult until you’ve done it once. Try practicing by swapping out a tire before winding up in a roadside emergency. This way you’ll be ready and confident no matter what happens. Plus, you’ll be able to swap out your all-seasons for safer, winter tires.

If you’re trying to find the perfect fit for a winter tire, AMA has a good guide for our readers.


Step 14: Proceed cautiously and make sure to stop by a mechanic as soon as possible to ensure the tire is mounted correctly and makes for a good long-term solution.

Last but not least, check out how Carrot can help you become a more confident driver by preparing for any situation!


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  1. Enroll with InsureMy (plus get a 10% discount)
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    a. (Download it on iTunes or Google )
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