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Tag: safe driver

 

With AAA and other emergency roadside services, it may feel unnecessary to know how to change your own tire. But especially on road trips, knowing how to change a flat can save you hours of waiting and worry. Here is your guide to changing a tire, from blowout to back on the road.

Graphics of jack, lug wrench, spare tire, and owner's manual.
To change a flat tire, you’ll need a jack, lug wrench, a spare tire, and your owner’s manual.

Items you’ll need

(Your vehicle should already come with these items check your trunk for them before you go out and buy anything.)

Stop Your Car

When you realize your tire is flat, do not abruptly brake or make sharp turns. Instead, slow your vehicle and try to pull over to a safe location away from heavy traffic.

Try to find a flat space to park. Do not try to change your tire on an incline. The level ground keeps your car from rolling while you change your tire.

Hazard Lights/ Brakes

A big red button in the middle of the dash.
Your hazard lights should be a prominent red button on the dash, with a white triangle in the middle.

Once you realize you have a flat, turn on your hazard lights. Especially if you’re in fast-moving traffic, four-ways let others know you’re not moving normal speed and they might need to slow down or go around you. Leave them on while you’re changing the tire if you’re parked near moving traffic.

When you park, apply your parking brake. This will minimize the risk of your car rolling away while you’re trying to change your tire.

Wheel Wedges

A rubber wedge set under a car tire.
Place a wedge or something heavy behind your wheels to keep your car from rolling while you change the tire.

Place a heavy object like a brick, wheel wedge or wheel chocks in the front of, or behind, the tires to further ensure the vehicle doesn’t roll while you fix the flat.

If you’re changing a rear tire, put these in front of the front tires. If you’re changing a front tire place them behind the rear tires.

Remove Hubcap or Wheel Cover

If your vehicle has a hubcap covering the lug nuts, it will be easier to remove the hubcap before lifting the vehicle with a jack.

You can use a screwdriver to pry the hubcap off. Just insert the point of the tool where the edge of the cover meets the wheel and apply a little force. The hubcap should pop off.

This works for most cars, but if it does not for yours, refer to your owner’s manual for the specific tool you should be using. You can also take it off with your bare hands if you need to.

Loosen the Lug Nuts

A person in jeans and white work gloves works to loosen the lug nuts on a black vehicle.
Loosen the lug nuts using a lug wrench.

Using the lug wrench, find which measurement fits the lug nuts on your car. Once you’ve gotten the wrench onto a lug nut, use your weight to turn the wrench counter-clockwise.

Do not take the nut all the way off; you’ll want them just loose enough that you can take them off with your hands after you jack the tire.

Jack Up the Vehicle

A jack lifts up a silver car with a flat back tire.
Lift your car using a jack.

Place the jack securely under car. The correct spot on each vehicle may vary, so consult your owner’s manual for the exact spot to place the jack.

Once you have the jack properly placed, pump the jack up and down using even strokes. Your car should start to lift, giving you the opportunity to change the tire.

Removing the Tire

Completely remove the lug nuts by hand and put them in a safe place. Grab each side of the tire and pull it straight toward you until it completely slides off. Place the tire on its side so it doesn’t roll away.

Placing the Spare Tire on the Vehicle

A red car with a small donut spare tire on the back wheel-bed.
This is a donut spare. It’s usually small and not meant for high speeds; if you’re driving with a donut, take care to drive slowly and safely.

Pick up the new tire (it may be heavy), line it up with the rim and place it on the car. Grab the lug nuts and place each one back on, tighten them as much as you can by hand.

Lowering your Vehicle

Use the jack to lower the vehicle so that the spare tire is resting on the ground, but the full weight of the vehicle isn’t on the tire. Take the lug wrench and tighten all the lug nuts as much as you can going clockwise. Put all your body weight into tightening the nuts.

After all the lug nuts are as tight as possible you can remove the jack.

Replace the Hubcap (Optional)

If your spare tire is a full-sized tire (instead of a donut), you can go ahead and put the hubcap on. Put the hubcap in place the same way you removed it initially. If you have a donut spare, it probably won’t fit, or be worth messing with until you get your permanent tire.

Drive Away Safely

Donut spare tires aren’t made to drive long distances, or at high speeds, so drive cautiously until you’re able to get a new tire replacement.

 

A man sits in his vehicle behind the wheel, looking at his smartphone.
Texas’ no-text law makes texting and driving illegal.

Texas implemented a state no-text law for drivers in September 2017. While many counties already had cell phone bans, this new law bans reading and writing text communications across the state.

For some, it is an adjustment to wait to text or use hands-free devices, which is why we’re providing some tips.

Understanding the new law is not only important to avoid a fine and ticket, but also for safety.

Out of sight, out of mind

If you are a driver who feels the need to immediately respond to a message, it is time to kick the habit. The easiest way to avoid the temptation is to commit to safe driving and place your cell out of reach. Either put it in the glove box on silent, or put your phone on airplane mode so you can’t receive messages. Removing the temptation from your immediate reach will encourage you to wait until later to check your phone.

Mount your phone, but don’t touch it when moving

Though it’d be ideal to turn your phone off or put it out of sight, some people use their phones for navigation or screening calls. For this, we recommend a magnetic dash mount for your phone, placed in a spot that’s close to your line of vision. This way, even if you need to look at your phone for navigation, you aren’t taking your eyes far off the road.

Your message alerts will still pop up if you’re using your phone or navigation features, however. Some phones have the option to turn off alerts for specific apps. If you’re most tempted by your messaging app, turn off the alerts when you’re about to drive.

Know the law

City ordinances that were in effect prior to the state law are still enforced, including hands-free ordinances. Invest in a Bluetooth device if your car is not equipped with this feature. This will allow you to talk and also send messages through a voice-to-text app or feature on your phone.

With the no-text law, drivers can still make and receive phone calls, however, if you are making a call while driving it must be hands-free. Use a voice-activated feature on your phone to dial the number for you.

The no-text law does not prevent you from texting or reading while stopped, but once the car is in motion you must put the cell phone down. If an officer sees a driver in motion with their head looking down, or the car not maintaining a lane, the officer can pull the car over.

Texting and driving accidents can be prevented. Share these tips with other Texas drivers and make our roads safer.

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