"Whether you change your tire yourself or call road service for help, having a spare and the necessary tools can save you time and an expensive tow," says auto expert Stan Markuze, founder of PartMyRide.com.
So before you hit the road, make sure your car is equipped with a spare tire, jack, wheel wrench (lug nut wrench) and flashlight.
Turn on your hazard lights and pull as far as possible off the road. Get to a level a surface if possible and avoid shoulders and inclines.
Make sure your car is in park and apply the emergency brake. Place large stones or branches next to the other tires to prevent the car from rolling.
Set up flares (if you have them) or put up your hood to let passersby know that you are in mechanical distress.
Use the wrench to loosen the lug nuts by turning them counterclockwise. (Older-model cars may require that you first remove the hubcap with a screwdriver.) Do not remove the loosened lug nuts.
Place the jack on solid ground (not loose dirt) and make sure that it's vertical. Jack up the car enough to remove the flat and leave extra room for the spare, which will be fuller and larger.
Remove the loosened lug nuts and put them in a secure place (your pocket or the glove compartment, for example). Take off the flat tire and place it in your trunk.
Put on the spare tire, making sure the air pressure valve is facing you. Put the lug nuts on and tighten them by turning them clockwise.
Lower the car back to the ground and remove the jack. Double-check the lug nuts to make sure they're as tight as possible.
Return the wrench and jack to your car. Remove the chock rocks/logs.
"Take your flat tire to be repaired or replaced by a professional tire shop," says Markuze.
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