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How to Fix a Flat Tire (Even If You’re a Newbie)

last updated August 20, 2018 by

You wake up early in the morning to prepare for a long drive to visit your relatives who live in a different state. When you step out into the driveway, you notice a flat tire. It’s quite frustrating, isn’t it? Are you currently facing this problem right now? Sit tight because we are going to teach how to fix a flat tire in these easy steps.how to fix a flat tire

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1. How to fix a popped tire: First, find out the cause

  • Check for any protruding objects
  • Check for slow punctures
  • Check whether the tire valve is leaking
  • Listen for any hissing sound
  • Check for any signs of vandalism

1. Check for any protruding objects

Sometimes kids get mischievous and decide to pierce car tires using nails, bits of broken glass, and rakes. Before removing the flat tire, do a quick inspection to see if there are any foreign objects protruding from your car tire.

You can do this by gently running your hand over the wheel to feel for sharp objects. Rubbing the tire with your bare hands is risky because any protruding nail or broken glass will cut your palm. You may need a flashlight because broken glass is hard to spot.

2. Check for slow punctures

flat tire repair for newbiesSome punctures take a longer time to develop. Driving over broken glass causes slow punctures however people notice them when it’s too late. The sharp pieces of glass cause several tears to the tire. The heat from asphalt roads causes your tires to expand.

Why is this expansion bad? Because it widens the tears caused by driving over broken glass or nails. As they continue expanding, the tire loses air at a faster rate. Fortunately, you can do a simple slow puncture test at home.

Get a bucket of water and some detergent. Next, make a soapy solution then spray pour it sparingly on different sections of your car tire. If you notice bubbles frequently appearing on a particular spot, then you’ve found the slow puncture.

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3. Check whether the tire valve is leaking

Perhaps as a child, you liked sneaking up on parked cars and pressing tire valves to release the air. Car tire valves can leak air as a result of tampering, and old age. When a kid uses their finger or protruding object on the valve to release air, it compromises the spring locking mechanism. The spring has a special cap which relies on air pressure to seal the air hole.

If you suspect a leaking tire valve, prepare a soapy solution and pour it on the valve stem. You’ll notice bubbles accumulating at the puncture spot. Alternatively, you can press the valve inside and observe whether there’s a hissing sound that’s produced long after releasing the valve stem.

4. Listen for any hissing sound

For this test, you’ll remove your car tire using a jack and a wheel spanner. This test requires more attention to your car tire.

How do you do it? Use the car jack to raise your flat tire then remove it. Next, place it in an upright position and refill air into the tire. Place your ear next to the rubber. You’ll need a quiet area to carefully isolate the hissing noise coming from your car tire. Rotate your tire in order to inspect the entire wheel.

5. Check for any signs of vandalism

If you live in a neighborhood with a high crime rate, you may fall victim to vandalism every now and then. A bunch of malicious teenagers might decide to record themselves slashing car tires just to elicit various responses on social media. Perhaps a gang of car thieves lands on your car but cannot free the wheels because you used strong wheel lock nugs. Out of frustration, they decide to rip your car tires.

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2. Repairing a flat tire

repair a flat tire

  • How long does it take to fix a flat tire?
  • How much to fix a flat tire
  • Check whether you have all the tools and spare tire
  • First, brace your good wheels
  • Use the jack to raise your car
  • Take out the wheel nuts using a tire wrench
  • Do the required repairs if possible
  • If there aren’t any repairs, use your spare tire

1. How long does it take to fix a flat tire?

It actually depends on three things.

  • Experience in fixing flat tires
  • Availability of required tools
  • The extent of damage on the car tire

If you’ve repaired a couple of popped tires in the past, then you already know how to use a jack and a wheel spanner. Fortunately, these tools are simple and readily available in gas stations and auto mechanics shops nationwide.

Fixing a pierced car tire takes less than five minutes because all you have to do is replace the damaged wheel with a spare. Faulty tire valves and slow punctures require more time because you need to visit a mechanic to get the job done. Why? Because they have the right experience and tools to replace faulty valves and repair punctured tire tubes.

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2. How much to fix a flat tire

If you already have a spare tire and the required tools, you won’t pay anything. That’s why it’s important to always travel with a spare tire and a fully loaded toolbox at all times. A good car jack that’s ideal for sedans and station wagons ranges from $40-$100. If you own an SUV, you’ll need a bigger car jack that costs at least $250.

Wheel spanners cost as little as $20 so there’s no excuse not to own one. Car tire prices vary due to the availability of various brands such as Michelin, Pirelli, and others. You’ll have to pay labor fees when you need an auto mechanic to repair a car tire with a broken valve or has multiple slow punctures.

3. Check whether you have all the tools and spare tire

How to repair a flat tire instructions

The first thing to do after inspecting your car tire is getting everything you need. If you’re somewhere in the wild, you’ll probably have to walk to the nearest convenience store to get some water and detergent. Why? Because you’ll need to do both slow puncture and valve stem leak tests.

You also need a pair of visible triangle hazard signs to warn other drivers about your current situation. Make sure you put one hazard five meters behind your car and place the other one five meters in front. If you’re repairing your flat tire at night or during a fog, you need a reflector vest to enhance your visibility on the road.

4. First, brace your good wheels.

Before raising your car using a jack, you need to enhance stability to prevent toppling. All you need are four solid bricks placed under each wheel except the flat one. These bricks prevent your tires from rotating because lifting the car causes uneven weight distribution. You still need these braces even when fixing your flat tire on a flat surface.

If you’re on a muddy road, you’ll probably need several buckets of dry sand to gain stability for your vehicle. Make sure you pour out plenty of sand around each car tire to enhance friction. Slippery roads cause skidding because there isn’t enough friction to keep the tires firm during motion.

5. Use the jack to raise your car

After following the steps above to brace your good tires, get out your car jack and tire wrench. Place it next to the flat tire and make sure it’s positioned on a hard flat surface. Neglecting to do this is putting yourself at great risk. Just imagine what would happen if the unstable jack wobbled and the exposed wheel hub falls directly on your foot.

It’s advisable to get a pair of jack stands after raising the car to enhance your vehicle’s stability. These prevent any accidental falling or wobbling while you use your tire wrench to unscrew the nuts. Just like using a car jack, position your jack stands on a hard flat surface.

6. Take out the wheel nuts using a tire wrench

If you know how to use a screwdriver, then using a tire wrench will be really easy. Simply place the cap on top of a wheel nut then twist it gently to gain a firm grip. Once this is in place, apply moderate force to unscrew each wheel nut.

What’s the best way to unscrew a stubborn wheel nut? Apply some oil lubricant then wait for a couple of hours because the oil flows slowly to the struck threads holding your wheel nut in position. You’ll need a tire wrench with a longer handle to increase your leverage when unscrewing stuck wheel nuts.

If this doesn’t work, then you’ll have to buy a nut extractor socket. It contains a special socket with threads that firmly fits into badly stripped wheel nuts. You’ll need a small hammer when fastening the nut extractor socket to keep a really firm grip.

7. Do the required repairs if possible

Some tire problems don’t require mechanics because you can fix them at home. Inside your car toolbox, you’ll find tools for dealing with flat tires. For instance, a pair of pliers helps motorists to remove nails, needles, and pieces of broken glass protruding from car tires.

If this is your situation, use the pair of pliers inside your car toolbox to remove protruding objects. You’ll need a rasp tool to remove any unwanted items lodged inside the punctured area. Fortunately, this tool is sharp and long enough to remove any trapped pebbles between the outer black rubber and delicate tube.

There’s also some plugging material in your toolbox which you’ll insert in order to block punctures. Simply use a rasp tool to push your plugging material deep inside the puncture. Next, inflate your car tire and position it upright to check whether the seal worked. You’ll need to drive at least 10 meters on a hard flat surface to keep your seal firmly secured.

8. If there aren’t any repairs, use your spare tire

Always ensure that your spare tire is in excellent condition. This is a very simple process. Just take the tire and place it on the wheel hub. Next, use your tire wrench to fasten your wheel nuts in the correct positions.

3. Now you know how to fix a flat tire

As long as you adhere to the steps explained in this article, you’ll gain all the experience you need in fixing popped tires. Smart motorists always ensure that they have a good spare tire and a fully loaded toolbox before driving off to work or other destinations. Make sure you carry a raincoat because you may face a puncture out in the rain. Always check your car tires in the morning to detect problems on time.

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