An unpleasant thumping sound starts under your car and the check tire pressure light begins to glow on the dash. You have a flat tire and your easy drive home has now turned into a headache. Although the wasted time and expense of a new tire will be a pain, knowing the right way to change a tire can keep that headache from turning into a disaster.

Get Your Car to a Safe Place

You should pull over as soon as possible with a flat tire, but need a safe spot to stop. It is okay to drive very slowly on a flat tire for a short distance. Put your hazard flashers on and creep forward until your car is off the road. You need a flat, hard surface to work on.

Gather the Tools and the Spare

Every car should have a spare tire in good condition, a lug wrench, and a jack with handle in the trunk or under a panel in the back of the vehicle. Well-prepared people may also have wheel blocks, gloves, and a waterproof mat to kneel on. It’s a good idea to keep all of these items in a box or gym bag in your trunk so that they don’t get lost and are right there when you need them in a moment’s notice.

If your car didn’t already come with a spare tire, you can easily get one from Discount Tire Centers or another tire shop. You definitely don’t want to be stranded, and so it would be in your best interest to keep one with you at all times.

Setting Up the Jack Safely

Put the car in park, engage the parking brake, and get everyone out of the car. Blocks go in front of the front wheels and behind the back wheels. Position the jack in the right spot. This varies between vehicles so a look inside the owner’s manual can help. Most cars have flat spots near the wheels specifically for the jack.

Tire On, Tire Off, and Away You Go

Before you jack the car off the ground, loosen the lug nuts. This may require standing on the wrench handle as most bolts are tightened with air wrenches at the mechanics. Jack the car up, remove the nuts the rest of the way, wrestle the flat tire carefully off the bolts and get it out of the way. Then, carefully lift the spare into position with the bolts going through the holes. Put the lug nuts back on, hand tighten them evenly, and carefully lower the car so the ground holds the tire in place. Tighten the lug nuts with the wrench as much as you possibly can. Lower the car the rest of the way and removed the jack.

These simple steps will get you back on the road in no time. However, you should probably practice these steps before you ever end up in such a situation where you would need them. Take an hour out of your day sometime this week to practice and master these steps.