If your New Year's resolution was to learn to be more self-sufficient, start with these five things every girl should know. Bonus: Guys think it's hot when you can change your own tire.
Are you tired of having to call one of your guy friends every time something stops working? You don't want to seem needy, but you don't want to pay a pro for a simple fix, either. It's OK to ask for help, but why don't you start off the new year by learning to do these simple fixes yourself so you can do it less often.
How to change a tire
Every gal should know how to change a tire. It's going to happen, so think of tire changing as a skill you should learn just like pumping your own gas.
If you do blow a tire, try to get your vehicle as far off the road as possible while remaining on a relatively flat surface. If you're in very heavy traffic, can't get far enough off the road or are on uneven ground, call a tow truck (not your boyfriend).
Note: Carry these supplies in your car trunk. If you use a cordless impact wrench, note that it should be removed periodically and recharged. Make sure you know how to use all of these before you hit the road.
- Spare tire
- Bricks, wooden wedges or metal wheel chocks
- Vehicle jack rated for your vehicle's weight
- Flathead screwdriver
- Lug wrench or torque wrench
- Orange road cones (optional, but highly recommended)
- Baby wipes, a small pillow or folded towel and a craft smock (optional)
- Turn on your emergency blinkers. If necessary, place orange road cones to alert oncoming traffic that there may be a problem ahead (i.e., if your car is just over a hill).
- If you're wearing nice clothes, put your craft smock on. Remove the spare tire from your trunk and lay it flat on the ground near where you'll be working, but safely away from any passing traffic. Do not rest it against the vehicle! It could become wedged in the undercarriage when you jack it up, causing you even more trouble.
- Use the bricks, wooden wedges or wheel chocks to secure the end of your vehicle that won't be jacked up. This will prevent it from rolling into traffic.
- Check your owner's manual to find out where to place the jack. This will ensure you don't damage your car by putting the jack under a weak point. Jack up your car by either turning the crank or pressing the lever up and down (if your car comes with a crank jack, we recommend purchasing a hydraulic jack for better leverage, especially if you're small).
- Once the car is lifted high enough for the wheel to turn easily, use the screwdriver to pry off the wheel cover and set it aside in a safe place.
- If you're smaller and may need to kneel for more leverage, use the small pillow (or a folded blanket) to protect your knees and cloths from damage on hard surfaces.
- Use the lug or torque wrench to remove the lug nuts (remember: righty-tighty, lefty-loosey). Place the lug nuts in a safe place (on your driver's seat or in your pocket) so they don't roll away or become lost.
- Pull the tire straight out to remove. It will be a bit heavy. If you have to, drop it straight down so the rubber meets the road as it would while on the car and roll it down to the end of your car, laying it flat down behind your car in a safe place (don't try to put it up just yet).
- Place the spare tire on the car so the holes match up with and fit onto the lug bolts. The spare will also be heavy. Use your knee for leverage if necessary.
- Hand-screw the lug nuts back onto the bolts first, then use the lug wrench or torque wrench to give it a bit of a tug, just to make sure it's secure enough. Don't fully tighten them, yet.
- Put the jack down so the tire is touching the road and remove it.
- Use the lug wrench or torque wrench to tighten all the bolts. To ensure they're evenly tightened (which will prevent damage to your vehicle), start with the first bolt, then move to the one directly across from it. Then go back to the other two bolts.
- Place your wheel cover back on your car by positioning it correctly and giving it a firm smack. Use the pillow or folded towel to avoid hurting your hand.
- Replace the jack and other supplies (including your bad tire, which may be reparable) back into your trunk and use the baby wipes to clean up any smudges before returning to your vehicle.
Note: A cordless impact wrench is great for people who are smaller or weaker, as it gives you leverage against mechanically tightened lug bolts. But carry a lug wrench or torque wrench, too, as the cordless kind shouldn't be used for the initial tightening and may be out of charge at the worst possible time.
Up next: How to use jumper cables and change your car battery >>