Northern VA Auto Repair


How to Change a Flat Tire

When your vehicle gets a flat tire while you are driving, remain calm and follow these instructions:

  1. Don’t panic! You don’t have to stop your vehicle immediately. The most important thing to do is to keep the car under your control by slowing down, and then pull over to the side of the road away from traffic to a safe spot.
  2. For female drivers who are alone – be very vigilant about your surroundings and watchful for thugs who cause accidents to get their victims to pull over. If you are approached by a suspicious person, remain in your vehicle with your windows up and call 911 if you feel threatened!
  3. Park your vehicle on a level surface away from soft ground. If you have a brick or wheel chocks, place them in front of your front tires if you are changing a rear tire and behind your rear tires if changing a front tire.
  4. Turn off your vehicle, put your emergency brake on, and turn on your hazard lights.
  5. Open your trunk and remove your spare tire, car jack, and lug wrench. If you have a blanket, glove and a change of shoes, take those out and use them to protect your clothing when kneeling alongside your car.
  6. With the lug wrench, slightly loosen the lug nuts on the wheel, but don’t loosen them completely.
  7. Attach the car jack securely underneath your vehicle (most vehicles have a metal spot or groove behind each wheel for the jack). Do not place the jack against a plastic part of your wheel/car or it could crack.
  8. Jack up your car so that it is suspended but not off the ground.
  9. Loosen the lug nuts some more by turning them counter-clockwise with the end of the wrench that fits the nut (but doesn’t rattle when you turn it).
  10. Pump or crank the jack to lift the tire off the ground. Make sure the car is stable and lifting evenly (not at an angle or leaning). If it is not even, lower and reposition the jack. Lift the car 2 inches off the ground.
  11. Remove all the lug nuts completely. Put them somewhere secure where they cannot roll or get lost in mud/snow.
  12. Remove the flat tire and place it under the car so that if the jack fails, it might help avoid injury.
  13. Put on the spare tire and tighten the lug nuts by hand. Tighten opposite lug nuts simultaneously. Once the tire feels secure, use the lug wrench to tighten the lug nuts further but not completely.
  14. Lower the jack until the tire is back on the ground. Remove the jack from the car and replace in trunk.
  15. Use the lung wrench again to further secure the lug nuts. Replace the wrench in the trunk.

Once you are back on the road, try to maintain speeds under 55 mph and have your tires (including your spare) serviced as soon as possible!

If you have run flat tires and your red tire inflation warning light is illuminated, don’t assume that they will hold air for any length of time. The integrity of the whole tire has been compromised, as well as your safety. Your braking and control of the car will degenerate quickly. Go immediately to the nearest professional to get them inspected.

If your yellow tire inflation warning light is illuminated, check the air pressure as soon as you can. Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) have sensors that can be triggered by temperature fluctuations. Your tires may just need a pound or two of air.

When faced with a tire emergency, our advice to every driver (especially new and female drivers) is to remain in control, slow down, and keep driving if you ever feel unsafe in your surroundings. Trust your instincts, and move your car to an area that is well lit and secure. If your tire has completely disintegrated, you can certainly drive on your wheels. They will be completely damaged but replaceable. Driver safety is more important than a set of rims!


Make sure the air is checked in your spare whenever your car is in for regular maintenance.