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How to fix a flat tire on your car

If you are armed with the right tools and knowledge, a flat tire is more of a minor setback than a day-destroying disaster. Our step-by-step guide teaches you how to fix a flat tire with a repair kit and how to replace one with a spare part.

Tools you need

That wheel will not come off on its own, right? You will need – at least – a jack and a wrench. We recommend that you use one hydraulic floor outlet for increased stability, but you may not have access to one if you get a puncture 5 miles from the center of nowhere. Jack stands and a torque wrench can make your life a lot easier. If your car does not have a spare tire, you will need a repair kit with tire plugs, a probe tool, pliers and an air compressor. Alternatively, you can use an inflator such as Fix a Flat- to get to the nearest tire shop.

Fix an apartment

46793471 - flat tire because the screw sticks the tire.
Naraporn Muangwong / 123RF

Normally, one would fix an apartment by removing the punctured tire and replacing it with a spare so that you can drive to a store and get a proper replacement.

But let’s say that the hole in your tire is not that big and that you lack spare tires. Provided you have the right tools, a patch kit, and you can remove a tire safely – and the tire is of course not seriously damaged – this is a sustainable solution in the short term. Note that this is one short term remedy, Because patched tires are generally only safe to drive for about 100 miles or three days, whichever comes first. Much like using a spare tire, this will not solve the problem either. The best solution is to take your car to a professional shop to get it replaced.

Step 1: Remove the wheel with the flat tire

First you have to jump off the flat tire. Loosen the lug nuts with a wrench, but do not remove them from the bolts yet. Then, after loosening the nuts, place the jack under (or in) the correct jack point and make sure to do this on a level surface, with the car in park or in gear if there is a stick-shift and the parking brake connected to prevent it from rolling . It can be extremely dangerous to chase the car on a slope. Once attached, you can remove the air nuts and remove the tire.

Step 2: Find the leak

Once you have removed the tire, it’s time to find the leak. If you can visibly identify the object that has punctured the tire – it could be a nail, a piece of metal or something else completely – carefully pull it out. A pair of pliers is practical here. If you do not know where the leak is coming from, you need to find it. You can do this by inflating the tire and feeling or listening around the surface of the tire to open or release it.

Another strategy is to inflate the tire and spray it with soapy water. The outflowing air will cause bubbles to form rapidly at the point.

Step 3: Connect the hole

Once you have found the hole, space it out to make sure the connector will fit. Usually a tool is provided to do this with your patch kit. Then it’s time to connect the hole. Apply all necessary glue from the kit to the socket and then insert it into the hole until about 2 inches of material protrudes from the tire. Then let the glue dry and cut off the protruding excess on the plug before discarding it.

Step 4: Test the connector

Now it’s time to test the plug seal. Inflate the tire and check if it is released with either the feel or the listening method mentioned above. Again, you can also use soap and water if you need an alternative method.

Step 5: Replace the wheel

Replace the tire and release nuts, but only tighten them sufficiently to keep the tire on. Do not tighten them all the way yet. Lower the car to the ground and remove the jacket. Once the car is stable on all four wheels, complete the process by tightening the lug nuts in a star pattern or an “X” pattern if you are dealing with a four-bolt model. Be sure to follow the torque requirements in your car manual. This is when a torque wrench can come in handy.

If you do it right, you should be able to get your car to a store to replace the tire. Again, this is not a long-term solution, and you will need to replace the tire within either 100 miles or three days.

Replace an apartment

Step 1: Remove the wheel with the flat tire

First you need to remove the flat tire. Before lifting the car with a jack, use a wrench to loosen the socket nuts, but do not remove them yet. Place the jacket under (or into) the car’s jack point, lift the car off the ground and remove the clamping nuts when the wheel is no longer in contact with the asphalt. This must be done on level ground, with the car parked (or if it is a stick, in gear) and the emergency brake is activated. Trust us; it is much safer this way.

Step 2: Fit the spare tire

Before replacing the flat tire, take a minute to make sure the wheel you are putting on is in acceptable condition. It is not uncommon for cars to have their original 20-year-old spare part still in the trunk, and if you drive on it, you will probably land back in a flat tire. If it is good, install it and replace the studs, but do not tighten them completely. Wait until you have lowered the jacket and make sure that the full weight of the car is back on the tire.

With the reserve in place, you can now drive your car again. Be careful though, as spare tires are not built to run for that long and you should never exceed 50 km / h when driving with a temporary donut-style spare part. Get the tire replaced by a professional and consider getting your tires rotated at the same time.

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