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In old days, spare tire and jack where always in trunk of car. Now with mini-vans and SUVs, vehicle manufacturers have become very creative with hiding spare tire and jack. Below is a list of places where you might find jack.
- in trunk - under or behind seat - hidden behind a panel - under hood
Below is a list of places where you might find spare tire.
- in trunk - under vehicle - hanging on back of vehicle - hidden behind a panel
Go out to your car right now and locate your jack and spare tire. You may need to locate your owners manual first to learn how to locate and use your specific jack to change a flat tire. It's better to figure it out now rather than waiting until you're stranded by side of road.
If you have never jacked up your car, now is time to practice. As mentioned earlier, vehicle should be on level ground. The jack usually needs to be positioned at a "peg" or "slot" under chassis near tire to be removed. At first don't jack car up so high that tire leaves ground. Just jack it up to take most of weight of car off tire.
Then use lug wrench to "break" lug nuts lose. To break them lose you have to turn them counter-clockwise. Breaking lug nuts lose might take a little muscle. If you left bottom of tire on ground, this will help by preventing tire from spinning or vehicle from rocking. "Breaking" nut lose means loosening it enough so you can get it off easy, kind of like a jar with a stuck lid. Just break them lose at this point, don't remove them.
If you're not strong enough to get lug nuts loose, now is time to find that out. It is also not uncommon for a tire mechanic to over-torque lug nuts, or strip treads so lug nut can't be removed. To get lug nuts off you may have to use "leverage". That is, make handle of wrench longer, for example by putting a pipe over it. In any case now is time to learn about problems with getting lug nuts off - not when your stranded at side of road.
After you have broken lug nuts lose, jack vehicle up higher. Jack it up just high enough so that tire leaves ground. Then remove lug nuts and tire.
There are two types of spare tires. You are lucky if you have a full-sized spare. Most cars today have a "space- saver" spare. A space-saver is thinner than a regular tire. The space-saver works like a regular tire, but there are two things to be aware of. First, space-savers are rated for only 50 mph. They are intended just to get you to service station. Second, air pressure requirement for a space-saver is usually much higher than regular tires for your car. Make sure you keep it filled to proper pressure.
Next put spare tire over lug studs and put lug nuts back on. Start lug nuts with your fingers to make sure you don‘t cross treads. After you have lug nuts started, use wrench to turn them on all way. After lug nuts are all way on, jack vehicle back down until tire touches ground. Now you can torque nuts down tight.
There is always question; how tight do I make lug nuts? There is actually a specification (which tire service personnel usually ignore). For example; 95 ft. lbs. as indicated on a torque wrench. But for average person without a torque wrench, it's a matter of feel.
You want to tighten lug nuts tight enough so that you are confident they won't come lose while you are driving, yet not so tight that you can never get them off again. Don't be a super man and tighten them until you strip threads or break stud. Just make them tight enough so that you are confident they won't come lose while you are driving. It's a matter of feel. After you have tightened lug nuts, remove jack.
Fix or replace flat tire ASAP. Murphy's law number 66 states that if you don't have a good spare tire you will immediately get a flat tire. Fix or replace flat tire on next weekend if you can't do it sooner.
If you don't know how to locate jack, access spare, and replace a tire on your vehicle, I suggest you go do it right now for practice. If you are prepared and confident, getting a flat tire will be a minor inconvenience, rather than a bad experience that screws up your entire day.
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