Friday, June 10, 2011

How to Change a Tire

I’ve been reading the new Stephen King book, a collection of novellas entitled Full Dark, no Stars. The second story in this collection is entitled Big Driver, and the whole ordeal could have been neatly avoided if only the main character knew how to change her own flat tire.

My initial response was a scoffing, “Please. Who'd wait two hours for Triple A to find her in the middle of nowhere, to change one flat tire? Who doesn’t know how to change a tire?”

Curious in spite of my laughing disbelief, I made some inquiries.  The response was almost universal.  And utterly horrifying.  Almost every woman I spoke to had no idea how to change a flat tire.  Otherwise capable and intelligent women, reduced to pathetic, limp-wristed cream puffs over a bad pothole or a rusty nail.

Are you kidding me?

Unacceptable.  Ladies, I’m giving you the ol’ wag-of-the-finger.  It's changing a tire, not rebuilding a carburetor.  The only easier car maintenance tasks are filling up the wiper fluid reservoir or pumping your own gas.  You’re smarter than that.

The first time I changed a tire, I was 16 years old.  A three-inch metal bolt screamed, "Goodbye, cruel world!" and threw itself at my car.  Its suicide attempt failed, but it managed to shred the front passenger tire of my ‘89 Honda CRX to ribbons before it rediscovered its zest for life and bounced merrily down the road.

I was alone on the side of a busy highway.  I'd never so much as watched someone change a tire before, and I had received no prior instructions on how to do it. 

Took me fifteen minutes.  Sure, I got a little grease on my hands, but it saved me from being raped and murdered while I waited for someone to swoop in and rescue me like a helpless princess.

So, in the spirit of ending ignorance and preventing senseless violence against my fellow females, I’m going to tell you all how to change a flat tire. I assume you have a spare or a donut (at least you’d better, or you can guess which finger I’ll wag at you next). While we’re at it, you should keep a basic tool kit and a pair of jumper cables in your trunk, as well. If you don’t have them, go spend the $15 at Wal-Mart at once.

Go on; I’ll wait.


Ok. You need only three things to perform a tire change:

1. Spare tire or donut
2. Tire iron
3. Jack (and no, I don't mean a man named Jack.  Don't get cute.)

Your car should have come with all these things.

Ok. On to the task:

1. If you have one, remove the hubcap.
2. Use tire iron to loosen lug nuts (but don’t remove them yet)
3. Set the jack under the frame of the car, making sure it will push up on the METAL FRAME and not fiberglass, wires, or anything else that won’t withstand the weight of the car.
4. Use the jack to raise the car up off the ground. You only need about an inch of daylight under the tire.
5. Remove lug nuts
6. Remove tire
7. Place spare tire/donut onto the wheel bolts
8. Replace lug nuts
9. Lower car & remove jack
10. Tighten lug nuts

That’s it. Ta-da!! Two tools and fifteen minutes, and you’ve saved yourself from making the news and becoming a stereotype. Or at least saved yourself a $50 fee to Triple A, or however much it costs.

You’re welcome.


  1. Ok, I did know that in theory, although I've never had to do it. Now about this wiper fluid reservoir you speak of...

  2. I bought a car from someone, then the first time it got a flat, I discovered the 17mm socket wrench included with the donut didn't fit the 19mm lug nuts.

  3. A girlfriend and I went to a little restaurant in an out-of-the-way strip mall for lunch one day (this was in North Fort Worth, btw). Came out to find a completely flat tire. Without a blink, we grabbed jack and spare and tire iron and went to work. Guy in pickup came by and offered to help before we got too far along. He "just happened" to have a tank of compressed air with him. "Nope," we told him. "Got it covered." ANOTHER guy came along quite soon after and offered to pump the tire for us. With a firm grip on the tire iron, I told him, "Thanks, but no."

    The tireman at Discount Tire confirmed what we'd begun to suspect. Nothing wrong with the tire; someone had simply let out all the air while we were lunching. It was no accident those guys were johnny-on-the-spot with compressed air tanks.

    Ladies, read Becky's instructions and practice a tire change in the safety of your driveway if you're concerned about not being able to do it in a real-life crisis. There ARE baddies out there.

  4. That's an awesome idea, Phoenix!


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