Easy, Illustrated Instructions on How to Fix a Flat Tire

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With the spare attached, and all the bolts tight, lower the car. 

Operate the jack again.

Lowering the car is a little easier than lifting the car. 

The wheel will touch the ground, and then the car will drop a little more before the jack pulls free. Keep turning the screw on the jack until it is totally flat. You are finished with the jack.

The emergency spare tire should look a little sad in the place of a real tire, but it shouldn't look as flat as the one in these photos.

When the car is on the ground again, REALLY tighten the bolts, as tight as possible. It is OK to stand on the wrench, even.

It is important that the tire is attached solidly and flat, so when it comes time to tighten the nuts, tighten them in turn, a little at a time, going from one bolt to the next, so that they are all making contact. If there are five nuts, tighten them in a star pattern, which means that you should tighten one bolt, then tighten the bolt which is sort of across from it, then tighten the bolt which is almost across from THAT bolt, until they are all tight.

I don't think this "star-pattern" tightening is really critical to the wheel being fastened correctly, but it can't hurt.

I have had the experience of having a couple of my lug nuts fall off (into the hubcap) while I was driving because I didn't tighten them well enough. The wheel didn't fall off, I could hear some weird clicking back there and pulled over in time to fix it.

Your tire change is complete! Pack all of the tools back into their little nooks within the car. You can put the flat tire back into the sub-trunk hiding place or simply leave it in the trunk.

Get your flat tire to a tire shop soon. I recommend getting your flat tire fixed the same day, or the next day. 

Modern tires don't have inner tubes inside. The rubber is just pushed onto the rim with the force of the air pressure. Occasionally, if the flat tire was the result of a collision, (for example, in a collision with a curb) you can fix a flat tire by simply inflating it.

Here is the part which is not free: A tire repair is about $10, but the tire shops will only try to repair it if the puncture is on the part of your tire that touches the road.

If the puncture is on the sidewall of the tire, they will probably ask you to buy a new tire instead. Some tire places will even fix your flat for free (America's Tire / Discount Tire), just for the chance to sell you one if the puncture is in a spot they won't repair. New tires are $50 to $100 each.

I always get my tires at Nordstrom, because they have the latest styles. 

Ideally, you should get tires two at a time. If the new tire is sitting across the axle from a worn-out tire, that might be a problem, because they have different circumferences.

If your other tires are unworn, a single new one could probably be introduced without any problems.

Also, just replacing one until you can raise the money for another one is nothing to be embarrassed about. After all, you are a badass, who changed his own tire.

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May 26, 2007 
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