Most car owners can swap out a flat tire pretty easily, but are much less confident when removing old tires from rims. They shouldn't be; the process is remarkably similar and takes only a few additional pieces of equipment. With a little practice, it can become second nature, and save you from the exorbitant fees that most tire centers charge. You simply need a safe place to work and a little care to ensure you don't damage the rims.
Raise the wheel you want to work on off the ground with a jack and make sure that it is secure. If you have access to a hydraulic lift, that will be even better.
Unscrew the cap on the tire valve and release the air so that it goes flat. Inflated tires press up right against the rim, which doesn't give you any room to work.
Loosen the nuts holding your wheel to the axle with a lug wrench and pull it away from the vehicle. Set the lug nuts carefully aside so they don't become lost.
Slide a tire iron onto the edge of the rim and gently but firmly leverage the tire off of it. Repeat the process multiple times, moving the tire iron to different points on the rim as you do so. You want to leverage the tire off evenly so you don't bend or scratch the rim.
Fit the new tire onto the rim and leverage it into place with the tire iron, placing the iron at multiple locations to make sure you fit it on evenly.
Place the tire in a spin balancer and check it to make sure that it is properly balanced. An unbalanced tire will wear out more quickly and may cause more serious accidents as well.
Connect an air pump to the tire valve and inflate it to regulation standards. Then place a tire pressure gauge into the tire valve to check the proper PSI. Your owner's manual will give you the correct PSI inflation level for your particular car.
Replace the wheel on the axle and the lug nuts in their proper positions, tightening them with a lug wrench to secure them.
Lower the jack to set the car on the ground.
Repeat these steps with the remaining three tires as necessary.
Items you will need
- Car jack
- Tire iron
- Lug wrench
- Spin balancer
- Air pump
- Tire pressure gauge
- You may want to set custom rims on a blanket or a piece of cardboard while you are working on them. The concrete floors of most garages may scratch the finish.
- Never conduct car repairs alone: even a simple operation like this one can be dangerous if your jack or lift collapses. Someone who knows what you are doing should always in the immediate area to provide assistance in case of an accident.