How to Change Tires on Cars

by Contributing Writer

Split rim tires use a locking ring on the outer bead of the rim to hold the tire in place. One-piece tires use a fixed bead. Split rims allow a relatively quick repair that you can do on the side of the road but the rims can be quite dangerous when changed incorrectly or badly maintained. Since an incredible amount of pressure is on the locking ring at all times you must ensure the rims are securely on the tire before re-inflation.

Under The Hood:

 How to Change a Tire on a Prius

Removing the Flat Tire

Park the car on the nearest flat surface, if possible. Take the jack, handle, wrench and spare tire out from under the center deck board/auxiliary box in the trunk.

Loosen the wheel nuts slightly using the wrench. One turn to the left is enough.

Place the jack under the vehicle with the side labeled "A" towards the outside of the car, and the center notch of the jack in alignment with the jack point (two small notches in the underside edge of the vehicle next to the tire).

Turn the jack handle to raise the vehicle until the flat tire is elevated slightly from the ground. Completely loosen and remove all the wheel nuts, then remove the damaged tire.

Replacing the Tire

Clean away any dirt or debris from the wheel contact surface. Tiny dirt particles can cause loosening of wheel nuts when the vehicle goes into motion.

Align the wheel nut slots and mount the emergency spare tire onto the wheel contact surface. Slightly tighten each wheel nut evenly by hand (to do this, simply start at the top nut, then tighten the one directly across, and then the one across from that, and so on to keep the pattern going). Keep tightening each evenly until the tapered part at the end of the wheel nuts are in contact with the spare tire's "face."

Lower the vehicle and finish securely tightening each nut evenly with the wrench. Make sure to put all the strength into this!

Put the flat tire and all other tools used in the repair back in storage under the trunk.

Items you will need

  • Spare Tire

  • Car Jack

  • Wrench

 How to Change the Tire on a Toyota RAV 4

Park the vehicle on as flat a surface as possible. When driving with a flat, it is not always as easy to find the perfect parking spot, but avoid any hills. Turn on emergency flashers for added safety. Remove the spare tire. Place it near the tire that needs replaced. The Toyota RAV4’s jack and lug wrench are normally kept under the front seat on the passenger side. Remove these tools and also place them near the tire that is to be replaced.

Locate the lifting points on the Toyota RAV4. The jack will not lift properly if the correct lifting points are not used. Unlike on other vehicles, the lifting points are on the suspension, not on the frame of the vehicle. When changing a front tire, locate the lift points behind the wheels. The rear lifting points are several inches in from the edge of the frame, slightly forward of the wheel. Attach the jack to the lifting points. The five lug nuts need to be loosened but not removed. Place the lug wrench on the first nut and turn the wrench counterclockwise. Loosen the next one directly opposite of the first until all five lug nuts are loose.

Raise the vehicle by turning the jack. The tire only needs to be raised high enough to easily move the tire without rubbing against the surface the vehicle is parked on. Make sure that the spare tire will have adequate clearance also.

Remove all the lug nuts from the flat tire. Firmly grip the tire and remove it from the vehicle. Once the tire has been removed, attach the spare tire to the same location. Tighten the lug nuts enough that the tire will not fall off when lowered to the ground.

Turn the jack to lower the tire to the ground. Re-tighten the lug nuts in the same order that you loosened and removed them. The lug nuts should be as secure and tight as when you began. The flat tire can now be stored in the same location on the vehicle as the spare tire.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Lug wrench

 How to Change the Tire on a PT Cruiser

Remove the jack and jack handle from the storage compartment that is behind the side trim panel in right rear section of your PT Cruiser's cargo area.

Remove your spare tire from under the rear of the vehicle by using the jack handle to rotate what Chrysler refers to as the "spare tire drive nut." The spare tire drive nut is under your car's rear scuff plate in the right-rear cargo area.

Set the PT Cruiser's parking brake and place the vehicle's transmission in park. Block the wheel that is diagonally opposite to the one you are changing. The block will help prevent the possibility of the car rolling while you are changing the tire.

Use the small end of the lug wrench to pry the hubcap off the wheel and expose the lug nuts. Loosen, but do not take off, the wheel nuts with the wrench by turning them counterclockwise a single turn prior to raising the car with the jack.

Place jack directly underneath one of the two built-in jacking locations on the PT Cruiser. The jacking locations are at the front and the rear of the car. You can identify them by looking for the triangular cut out symbol. Use the jacking location closest to the tire that needs to be changed. Lift the car with the jack.

Remove the lug nuts with the lug wrench.

Pull old tire off of the car and replace it with the spare. Replace the lug nuts and tighten them. Lower car back to the ground and then remove the jack. Tighten the lug nuts securely, and snap hubcap back into place. Return old tire to spare tire carrier or cargo area, depending on where it fits, and put jack and lug wrench away.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Lug wrench

  • New tire

  • Block

 How to Change a Tire on a Scion

Park the vehicle on a level surface, preferably paved. Place it into park and set the parking brake if so equipped.

Locate the scissor-type jack, lug wrench and spare tire. This may well prove the most difficult part of your tire change, since Toyota tended to hide the necessary tools in out-of-the-way places. Look under your trunk mat for the cardboard spare tire cover, behind the driver side trim panel in the trunk or slide your driver seat forward and look underneath. If all else fails, consult your owner's manual.

Slip the collapsed scissor-jack under the lift pads on your car's frame. You can find these lift pads just under the doors ahead of the rear tires and just behind the front wheels.

Expand the jack by turning the screw mechanism by hand. Keep turning until the pad on top of the jack comes into contact with the bottom of the car.

Remove the wheel cover (if so equipped) by gently sliding the flattened end of your lug wrench between the edge of the wheel cover and the wheel. Give the lug wrench a slight twist after insertion to pop the cover out and work your way around the wheel until it comes off.

Slide the hex end of the lug wrench over the lug nuts and apply torque until the nuts break loose (about 1/2 turn).

Insert the pointed end of the lug wrench into the hole in the jack screw and use it for leverage to turn the screw clockwise. Keep turning until the affected tire is completely off the ground by one to two inches.

Remove the lug nuts and then wiggle the tire free.

Slide the emergency spare or full-size spare onto the wheel studs and thread the nuts on. Install them in a star-pattern (as opposed to clockwise or counter-clockwise around the wheel), wiggling the wheel inward toward the car as you tighten them with your fingers.

Insert the lug wrench back into the jack and turn the screw counter-clockwise until the new tire rests on the ground. Tighten then lug nuts with the wrench until you feel resistance. Give the lug wrench one or two quick jerks until you hear the nut emit a pronounced squeak. Tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern, then go back again and make sure they're tight.

Line the notch on the inside of the wheel cover up with the valve stem on the wheel and press the wheel cover against the wheel. Smack the opposite edge of the wheel cover with the palm of your hand until it wedges in the wheel. Move around the wheel cover smacking around its perimeter until the cover locks in place.

Put the old tire in your Scion and re-install the jack and lug wrench in their original locations.

Items you will need

  • Stock tire jack and lug wrench

  • Spare tire

 How to Change a Tire on a QX4

Park your QX4 on a smooth, flat surface and set the parking brake. Lift the rear-seat base from the back edge and locate the jack and tool kit under the seat.

Remove the jack, lug wrench and jack rod from under the seat, then go to the rear of the car. Open the lift gate and locate the hole in the body just above the bumper. Insert the jack rod and place the lug wrench on the jack rod by sliding the rod into the hole in the wrench handle.

Spin the jack handle counterclockwise and lower the spare tire to the ground. Remove the lift cable from the center of the rim on the spare tire, then slide the tire out from under the rear of the car.

Move to the flat tire and loosen the lug nuts using the lug wrench. Do not remove the nuts yet. Locate the jacking points under the car. On the front that is under the frame rail just behind the axle, on the rear it is under the axle.

Position the jack under the car, attach the jack rod to the jack, then install the lug wrench on the rod, sliding the rod into the hole in the lug wrench. Turn the jack handle clockwise to lift the car until the tire is off the ground.

Remove the lug nuts then remove the flat tire from the car. Install the spare tire on the car and screw on the lug nuts. Lower the jack and remove it from under the car. Tighten the lug nuts with the lug wrench.

Place the spare tire under the car and install the lift cable into the center hole of the tire. Insert the jack rod into the hole in the back of the car and, using the lug wrench, turn the jack rod clockwise until the tire is completely under the rear of the car.

Place the jack, jack rod and lug wrench into the storage area under the rear seat and push the seat base down over the compartment.

Items you will need

  • Tool kit

  • Spare tire

 How to Change a Tire for a Toyota Sequoia

Remove your spare tire and tire-changing kit from underneath the trunk panel of your Sequoia.

Loosen the lug nuts on your tire by attaching your lug nut wrench to each lug nut and turning it counterclockwise. These nuts are tightened to an extreme level to keep your tire from falling off. Significant force will be needed to loosen each lug nut.

Insert your jack stand in the delegated spot underneath your car. There is a specific spot to place your jack in front of or behind each tire. With back tires, this spot is in front of the back axle. For front tires, this spot is located behind the front axle. Do not jack up your Sequoia in any spot other than the designed spot.

Raise your jack stand by attaching the hooked end of your lug nut wrench to the tow ring on your jack and twisting the lug nut wrench in a clockwise motion. With each turn of your wrench, your jack will be raised.

Remove your lug nuts completely once your car is six inches of the ground.

Place your spare tire on the axle once your other tire has been removed.

Reapply and tighten your lug nuts on your spare tire. While the car is still jacked, you will not be able to get the torque to tighten the lug nuts to a safe level.

Lower the car by turning your jack counterclockwise in the manner explained in step four.

Remove your jack and tighten your lug nuts to a safe driving level.

Place your tire underneath your trunk panel with your tire-changing kit.

Items you will need

  • Spare tire

  • Jack stand

  • Lugnut wrench/jack wrench

 How to Change the Tire on a Mazda Tribute

Park the Tribute on as level a surface as possible and out of the danger of traffic. Put the car in "Park" if it's an automatic or in "Reverse" if it is a manual. Engage the parking break.

Open the hatch and find your jack and lug wrench. Depending on the options on your Tribute, it will either be under the carpeted floor near the lift gate or on the right-hand side of the cargo area behind an access panel in the side wall. Remove the tools by unbuckling and pulling out the strap or releasing the screw on the bracket, respectively. Pull the lug wrench off the jack so you can use it to get your spare tire.

Close the hatch and look for a hole in the middle of the right half of the bumper that is slightly larger than the head of your lug wrench. Insert the head of the wrench into this hole and turn it counterclockwise. This will release the tire from underneath the vehicle. Pull it off of the suspension cable, unscrewing the tether with the lug wrench if it has one.

Use your lug wrench to turn each lug nut on the flat tire counterclockwise half a turn.

Look for the jacking notches on your vehicle, which are small indentations underneath its frame. There is one in front of each rear tire and one behind each front tire. Put your jack underneath the appropriate notch and turn its handle clockwise until you have the flat tire an inch off the ground.

Turn the lug nuts counterclockwise until they are completely off. Pull off your flat tire and replace it with the spare tire. The valve stem should face towards you and the tire should be flush with the wheel hub. Tighten the lug nuts halfway by turning the lug wrench clockwise. Turn the handle of the jack counterclockwise to lower the vehicle. Then tighten the lug nuts the rest of the way.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Lug wrench

  • Lug nuts

  • Spare tire

 How to Change a Tire on a Hyundai Elantra

Prepare the car and the tools for the tire change. Drive your car away from traffic, park it in a level area, and pull up the emergency brake. Also be sure to turn off the ignition so the engine is off. Look for the tools in your trunk and get them near the tire.

Pull out the spare tire from the trunk and put in near the flat tire.

Loosen but do not remove the lug nuts on the tire you're changing, using the lug nut wrench and turning them counterclockwise.

Put the jack under your car, between the wheel wells, near the tire. Peek under the car near the wheel well of the tire you're changing and identify the area where you should put the jack--it might be a flat surface on the frame iron, or a dimple, or a notch, or a pinch in the steel--and use it to slightly lift the car. Be sure the car sits comfortably on the jack. Lift it so the flat tire is at least 3 inches above the ground.

Remove each lug nut of the tire, which you loosened in Step 3. Be sure to keep the nuts in a safe place; as you'll be using them again shortly.

Remove the flat tire simply by pulling it off the studs with your hands.

Place the spare tire on the axle where the flat tire was.

Put the lug nuts on the studs with the spare tire mounted and screw them on using your hands until they're snug.

Lower the jack carefully until the car is safely on the ground. Then tighten each lug nut with the lug wrench.

Items you will need

  • Flat-head screwdriver

  • Jack

  • Lug nut wrench

 How to Change a Tire on a Jetta VW

Park your Jetta on solid ground and as far away from traffic as possible. Put the gearshift in "Park" if you have an automatic transmission or in gear if you have a stick. Set the emergency brake. Turn off the ignition and remove the key. Chock the wheel diagonally across from the one you want to remove.

Remove the center medallion on wheel, if one is equipped, or the wheel cover. For the pop-off medallion, use the wire clip from the Jetta's tool kit. Hook the end of the clip in one of the holes around the edge of the medallion and pull toward you to pop it off. For the twist-off medallion, press in and turn it counterclockwise to remove it. If you have individual bolt caps, use the wire clip. Insert it into the hole on each bolt cap and pull it toward you to remove them. If you have the full wheel cover, hook the wire clip in a vent slot at the top of the wheel cover. Slip the lug wrench up through the loop in the clip. Brace the top end of the lug wrench against the tire and pull up on the lower end to pop the wheel cover free.

Loosen the wheel bolts one full turn. Position the jack under the jacking point on the vertical rib indicated by the arrow on the lower rocker panel. The jacking points are just behind the front wheels and just forward of the rear wheels. Lift the Jetta up and support it on the jack stand.

Finish removing the wheel bolts and remove the wheel. Install the replacement wheel. If you're mounting the unidirectional compact spare, make sure you install it with the rotation arrow pointing forward at the top of the tire. Install the wheel bolts and snug them.

Lower the Jetta to the ground and tighten the wheel bolts to 88 foot-pounds in a star pattern. Install the wheel cover, bolt caps or wheel medallion.

Check all four tires with a tire gauge and inflate them to the pressure given on the label inside the driver's door. Check the tire pressure when the tires are cold. If you have to adjust the tire pressure when the tires are warm, inflate them to 3 psi over the recommended tire pressure to compensate. Open the glovebox and press the "Set" button to recalibrate the TPMS.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stand

  • Socket set

  • Ratchet

  • Torque wrench

  • Tire gauge

 How to Change Tires on Split Rims

Deflate the tire. This is extremely important, as the pressure can cause the tire to explode if done incorrectly. Mark with chalk where the valve stem and the split is in the locking ring. This ensures that the wheel balance is correct when re-mounting the tire.

Break the bead of the tires on both sides using a bead breaker.

Push up on the locking ring with a lever and place the end of a second lever in the recess created by pulling up along the ring. Then, using both levers, pull up all the way around under the ring until it is free. Place the locking ring aside.

Remove the rim from the tire, making sure that you don't damage the valve stem in the process. Take the tube out from the tire. You can either patch the tube or replace it with a new one, depending on the damage.

Insert the repaired or new tube back into the tire casing. Make sure that the valve lines up with the chalk mark that you placed on the tire earlier. Replace the rim back into the tire, passing the valve stem through the appropriate space on the rim.

Put the locking ring on the top of the tire and line up the split in the ring with the chalk mark on the tire from earlier. Kick down and out at the opposite end of the recess in the ring to secure the ring back onto the rim. Stand on top of the tire to keep the ring in place as you move along the tire until the entire ring is secure.

Inflate the tire and place it back on the vehicle.

Items you will need

  • Bead breaker

  • Two levers

 How to Change a Tire on a Lincoln Town Car

Drive to a level surface. Put the car in "Park."

Remove the jack and spare tire from the trunk. The jack is on the right side of the trunk above the wheel well. If your Town Car is equipped with "Air Suspension," flip the switch to "Off." The switch is located on the left side of the trunk above the wheel well.

Disconnect the wheel wrench from the jack.

Remove the center cap covering the wheel nuts. Use the flat end of the wheel wrench to gently pry it off.

Unscrew the wheel nuts partially with the wheel wrench. Make sure they are loose but do not take them off yet.

Place the jack under the car. There are jacking location marks on the body of the car near each wheel well. The jack head will go directly under the frame of the vehicle in line with the mark. The front marks are semicircles and the rear marks are triangles. Refer to your owner's manual for a diagram of these locations if you have trouble finding them.

Raise the vehicle with the jack. Turn the handle clockwise until there is enough room to slide the tire off the car.

Unscrew and remove the wheel nuts you loosened previously.

Pull off the flat tire.

Slide the spare tire onto the lugs.

Screw on the wheel nuts by hand until all of them are snug.

Turn the jack handle counterclockwise and lower the vehicle to the ground.

Tighten the wheel nuts with the wheel wrench.

Place the flat tire, jack and wrench in the trunk. If you turned off the air suspension, turn it back on.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Wheel wrench

  • Spare tire

 How to Change a Tire on an Audi A6

Remove the plastic lug nut caps with the cap removal tool located in the trunk of your Audi A6. Simply use this tool to clip opposite ends of the lug nut cap and pull it out. Alternatively, you could pop the cap off with a flathead screwdriver.

Loosen the lug nuts on your tire by turning the tire iron in a counterclockwise direction. Do not remove the lug nuts completely.

Jack up your car by placing the car jack by placing it under the indent beneath your Audi A6 near the side rails. Choose the indent that is closest to the wheel you are replacing to jack up your car.

Remove the lug nuts and pull your tire free from the vehicle. Replace the tire by lining up the bolts with the rim holes. Replace the lug nut bolts, and use your tire iron to attach them loosely. Do not tighten the lug nuts completely until you've lowered your jack.

Lower the jack and remove it. Tighten each lug nut as far as it will go.

Items you will need

  • Tire iron

  • Replacement tire

  • Jack

  • Lug nut cap remover or flathead screwdriver

 How to Change a Tire on a Dodge Sprinter

Drive the car to a flat surface. Set the parking brake.

Locate the vehicle tool kit. It is in the front passenger foot well under the hatch.

Remove the spare tire. If the spare is below the frame of the car, open the cargo doors. Use the wheel wrench from the vehicle tool kit to loosen the retaining screws above the frame. Then unhinge the hooks holding the spare from under the car. If it is in the cargo area, open the cargo doors and loosen the spare wheel holder in the center of the tire by turning the lever counterclockwise with your hand.

Loosen the wheel lug nuts on the flat tire using the wheel wrench, but do not take them off.

Place the jack under the jacking point. If you're changing one of the front tires, the jacking point is located in front of the front axle. For a rear tire, the jacking point is in front of the rear axle. If you have trouble locating these points, check your owner's manual for a diagram.

Lift the car with the jack until there is enough room to slide the spare onto the car. If the car moves backward or forward while you are jacking the car up, lower the car and reposition the jack.

Remove the lug nuts on the flat tire and take off the tire.

Wipe off any rust or dirt from the lug nuts, bolts and spare tire.

Install the spare tire onto the car and tighten the lug nuts by hand.

Lower the car gently back onto the ground.

Tighten the lug nuts with the wheel wrench until the tire is secure.

Replace the jack and wheel wrench in the vehicle tool kit and store the flat tire in the cargo area.

Items you will need

  • Owner's manual

  • Jack

  • Wheel wrench

  • Spare tire

 How to Change the Tires on a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle

Remove the Old Tire

Remove the wheel according to manufacturer's directions. Use your valve core tool to deflate the tire. Remove the valve core.

Break the bead of the tire away from the rim. Position the wheel on the tire-changing stand. Pull the tire as far to one side as possible. Push the 2 tire beads on the opposite side together and force them into the narrowest part of the rim.

Pry the bead over the near edge of the rim. Insert one of the tire irons between the bead and the rim on the loose side of the tire. Insert another tire iron 3 to 4 inches from the first and the bead should work up over the rim. Keep adding tire irons until the entire side is free from the rim. Repeat the process to pull the other bead off the rim.

Remove the inner tube if that's on your motorcycle tire. Remove the valve stem if it's a tubeless tire. Clean the valve stem hole and bead area. It's important to remove any rust or rubber pieces. Clean the rim.

Install the New Tire

Install a new tube or valve stem depending on tire type. Use wheel mount fluid to lubricate both beads of the tire. Make sure of the tire rotation direction. There should be arrows marking the correct direction. Find the yellow dot on the tire. This is the marker for the valve stem.

Starting with the valve stem push the bottom bead over the rim. Use your hands as much as you can. Carefully pry the remainder over the rim with the tire irons.

If this tire has a tube, now is the time to install it. Carefully put a very small amount of air in it to make sure it is not twisted.

Repeat the process with the other bead. This time start on the side opposite the valve stem. Make sure the tube is not pinched.

Wrap the bead strap around the tire. Tighten it enough to spread the bead. Add air while releasing the bead strap. The beads should seat completely. Make sure the tire and rim are even all the way around. Use a soapy water solution to check for a good seal.

Items you will need

  • Tire irons

  • Bead breaker

  • Air compressor

  • Inflation strap

  • Tire-changing stand

  • Wheel weights

  • Tire mounting fluid

  • Scrubber pads

  • Tire valve core tool

  • Balancing tools