Last Sunday En and I were out for a quick walk after dinner. We didn’t get more than three houses down the street before we heard a car coming down the street making a great ruckas. Shortly afterward it became apparent what the noise was: the left rear tire had no air at all and was flapping around. Subsequently we smelled it as well — the odor of burnt rubber blanketing the street. It was obvious that either the driver didn’t know or care about the problem.

We looked at each other for a moment then waved our arms furiously to get their attention. It work and the white Acura came to a stop.

Running up we found a young lady that didn’t know she had a problem. I have all the requisite tools in the garage so I offered to show her how to change the tire (ok, for the pedants out there, it’s a wheel with a tire mounted, most people don’t change just a tire) Thankfully she agreed (I hate to watch something get destroyed, and the wheel would certainly be damaged in just a few more minutes).

Pulling up to the garage she was quite nervous – I’m guessing the stranger danger phenomenon was programmed into her as well. We introduced ourselves while I got the tools out. Katelyn was coming home from work and had a year’s worth of locker crap in the trunk. After unloading we found that she in fact did have a spare tire that she didn’t know about. Looking at the tire it was easy to see why it was flat: I could stick my fingers through holes in the sidewall of it! She said there was a bubble in the sidewall in the morning and then it just went flat. I’m guessing the tire got all cozy with a curb the night before and that was the root cause of the problem.

Changing the wheel was easy with the right tools. Having a proper set of tools (not the crap that comes with the car) makes the job a breeze, thought the crap tools are serviceable as well. As an added bonus I inflated the spare to the proper pressure as well since it was only half-way there. (“I knew I should have gotten that spare tire fixed!”)

Hopefully she learned how to do it for next time. In a nutshell, here’s the process:

  • Car in park and hand brake applied
  • Get out the tools and spare tire
    • They might be in the trunk, under the back of the car/truck, under a rear seat. The manufacturers can get tricky with where they put it!
  • Jack up the corner of the car a bit
    • Make sure you jack the car up at the right spot! Look under the car for some odd protrusions near each corner; those are likely the jack points that are connected to the frame. If you have any doubt, check the owner’s manual (i.e. don’t sue me!)
  • Break the lug nuts/bolts free. If they are stuck it helps to put the wrench on so you are pulling up rather than pushing down; you can lift with your legs a lot better!
  • Jack up the rest of the way
  • Remove bolts/nuts
  • Take off old wheel and put on the other one
  • Replace the bolts/nuts
  • Torque them as best as you can
  • Lower the car most of the way
  • Tighten them again (the added friction between the tire and ground helps to prevent the wheel from spinning). Put a little of your weight into it, but don’t jump and up down on the wrench.
  • Lower all the way
  • Check the pressure in the tire and adjust as necessary if you have a way to do that
  • Stash the flat tire in the spot the spare was and put away the tools


Upshot: I’ve had people help me when I needed a hand. The biggest thing is the time I was stranded in Red Bay, Labrador and the Earle’s helped me out with a room after the “incident” last year. Ya got to pay it forward. It makes you feel good if nothing else.