When it comes to changing a tire, having the right tools can make all the difference. Whether you’re an experienced mechanic or a first-time car owner, knowing which tools to use when changing a tire can save you time, money, and frustration. In this guide, I’ll introduce you to the best tools for changing a car tire, covering everything from lug wrenches to floor jacks.
Changing a flat tire is a skill many drivers think is too hard, the truth is it’s not that difficult. In this article, I’ll show you how easy it can be with the right tools. And for the more experienced mechanics out there I want to show you some awesome tools for changing a car tire you need in your toolbox!
Before we jump into the best tools for changing a car tire let me break down the process. Those who have more experience scroll down to dive right into the list.
What Are The Basic Steps To Change a Car Tire?
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- Find a safe spot: This is the big one, never try to change a tire on the side of a busy road, it’s just not worth it. Make sure you are in a safe location away from traffic before attempting to change a tire.
- Get the tools you need: You’ll need a lug wrench, a spare tire, a jack, and a tire-changing mat (optional).
- Loosen the lug nuts: Use the lug wrench to loosen the lug nuts on the flat tire. Don’t remove them yet, just loosen them. Keep in mind you may need to remove a hubcap or cover on the wheel to access the lug nuts (or bolts.) Tip: Always loosen in a counterclockwise direction.
- Jack up the car: Place the jack underneath the car in the recommended jacking point and raise the car until the flat tire is off the ground.
- Remove the lug nuts: Use the lug wrench to remove the lug nuts from the flat tire and remove the tire from the car.
- Install the spare tire: Line up the spare tire with the wheel studs and screw on the lug nuts. Tighten them by hand, then use the lug wrench to snug them up. Make sure to snug the lugs in a star pattern evenly.
- Lower the car: Use the jack to lower the car back down to the ground.
- Tighten the lug nuts: Use the lug wrench to tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern until they are fully tightened.
And there you have it! With the right tools and a little bit of know-how, changing a car tire can be a quick and easy process.
What Are The Best Tools For Changing a Car Tire?
I’m gonna be totally honest here, the tools that came with your car to change a tire are garbage.
As a matter of fact, some are downright dangerous. You need a stable floor jack and a lug wrench that won’t strip the lugs or smash your knuckles.
Let’s get into the best tools for changing a car tire…
A Good Quality Floor Jack:
You don’t need to be a professional mechanic to realize you’re not changing a tire unless you can lift a car off the ground. This is where a great floor jack comes into play. A quality jack not only makes the job much easier, but it also makes it MUCH SAFER.
I don’t recommend anything except a hydraulic floor jack, “screw-type” jacks usually have very small and unstable footprints. These are very unsafe, especially when working on the side of the road. If you are curious about how a hydraulic floor jack works check out this article. Make sure you buy a jack that is rated to lift your vehicle, a good rule of thumb is to buy a jack rated for half of the overall weight of your car. This will ensure the jack is strong enough to lift up the car, at least one corner at a time safely.
A Lug Wrench:
You are not changing a car tire without a good lug wrench. The lug wrench that came with your car is better at being a paperweight than it is at removing tight lug nuts. The factory lug wrenches are short and flimsy, I recommend a breaker bar style to give you the best leverage.
Super important but often overlooked, wheel chocks are essential to changing a car tire safely. Many vehicles have slipped off of the jack because the wheels weren’t chocked as the wheels were being removed. Remember, the car will move a bit when you are working the wheels free. Wheel chocks ensure that the vehicle doesn’t roll. Place one at the front and rear of a tire and you will be much safer.
Use jack stands to ensure that if the hydraulic jack were to fail for some reason the car won’t hit the ground, or worse, you. Jack stands are an absolute necessity if you are a DIY mechanic. They provide safety and stability to a raised vehicle, never get under a car lifted by just a jack, it’s a stupid mistake that can kill you.
Tools For Changing a Car Tire You Should Have In Your Trunk
Below are the tools you should have in your vehicle at all times in case you get a flat tire…
BIG RED 2.5 Ton Floorjack With Blowmolded Case
Why do I like this floor jack?… This is a great entry-level jack that is good quality and strong enough for most vehicles. The blow-molded case makes it perfect for keeping in the trunk. Nobody wants a huge clumsy car jack taking up space, this is a perfect combination of a compact floor jack that fits perfectly in your trunk but is still heavy-duty enough to get the job done, either on the side of the road or in your garage on a Saturday.
WORKPRO 15” Universal Lug Wrench Set
Why do I like this lug wrench? … I like the durability and leverage this wrench offers. It’s easy to store and it has a large flat-head prybar built in to remove stubborn hub caps and other stuck components.
Be sure to buy the correct size lug wrench and jack for your vehicle, I also recommend having a good pair of gloves and a decent flashlight in the trunk.
ORION Safety Products 15-Minute Road Flares
Flat tires happen at the worst times, if you are in a situation where you are changing a flat tire on the side of the road at night you need to make sure people can see you. Road flares have saved many lives over the years and no trunk should be without a few. Sometimes the best tools for changing a car tire are a matter of safety. You can grab 6 road flares for less than $25 bucks, it’s a no-brainer.
Additional Tools To Change a Car Tire For The DIY Mechanic
Above we covered the best tools for changing a car tire in an emergency situation, now let’s look at the best tools for the do-it-yourself or side hustle mechanic! These are awesome additions to any toolbox or garage that will make working on your car way easier.
Let’s take a look at some tools that kick it up a notch…
Electric Impact Wrench:
Having an impact wrench makes life so much easier, there isn’t a professional mechanic around that doesn’t have either an air or electric impact wrench in their toolbox for good reason. The beauty of an electric impact wrench is you don’t need a loud air compressor or an air hose to trip over. Impact wrenches aren’t just for changing car tires either, they remove the tightest of bolts and help you get the job done way faster.
Here is my top pick…
Why I like the Milwaukee. This is a powerhouse of a tool that is high-quality, portable, and built to last. Milwaukee has been in the game for a long time and they carry a great reputation.
If you are doing side work for a customer you need a torque wrench, there is no reason you should be tightening lug nuts when changing a car tire by “feel.”
A torque wrench ensures that the wheel is properly tightened every time. Not only is this important for your customer’s safety, but it’s also important for your reputation as a mechanic. Don’t be the person that gets called a hack when the next shop cant get your stripped overtightened lugs off. For changing cars tires always choose a 1/2-inch drive model torque wrench, you can look up just about any wheel torque spec online these days using Google.
Here’s my top pick…
I like Gearwrench, they make awesome tools and they sell them at reasonable prices. This torque wrench is the perfect example of an accurate quality tool that doesn’t break the bank. Nobody wants to do loads of side work just to dump the money on a torque wrench.
With the right tools changing a tire can be a breeze. By investing in high-quality tire-changing tools, you’ll be prepared for any flat tire emergency or side job that comes your way. Whether you’re a seasoned mechanic or a novice driver, having the best tools for changing a tire will save you time, and money.
Remember, safety should always be your top priority when changing a tire. Make sure to find a safe spot away from traffic, use a tire changing mat to protect your clothes and car, and always double-check that the spare tire is securely attached and inflated to the recommended pressure. If you are doing work at home jack stands are essential.
So, don’t wait until you’re stranded on the side of the road to realize you don’t have the right tools to change a flat tire. Invest in the best tools for changing a tire today and enjoy peace of mind knowing you’re prepared for any flat tire emergency.