Let’s be real here: changing a tire is scary. Of course, this is a “practical life skill”. Yes, you can find 100’s of YouTube videos breaking it down. However, unless you know, like really you know all the tools you need and all the steps you’ll take, renovating an apartment is… a lot. Especially if you’re not someone who feels particularly confident, strong enough to wear tires or encouraged to ask questions about cars.
“The hardest part of the job is getting the [spare] get tired of your trunk, because there’s not a lot of tricks you can use,” said Bogie, an auto mechanic and owner of Girl Gang Garage in Phoenix, Arizona, who teaches automotive classes to groups of women and non-binary people. According to Bogie, who goes by her first name, the spare tire can be heavy and can be in an awkward position to try to get out on your own.
“For almost the rest of the work, you can use tricks to use your leg and body strength instead of trying to rely on arm strength.”
Bogi is passionate about making drivers understand their cars. She recommends familiarizing yourself with your vehicle’s manual, as well as the tire changing tools that may have come with your vehicle, such as a spare tire, a jack, and some type of wrench. Once you have all the tools, Bogi recommends practicing changing a tire in a driveway or parking lot.
“It’s recommended that people take their tire off and put it back on their driveway when there’s nothing wrong with it,” she said. “Once you’ve proven to yourself that it really isn’t as hard as you thought it was, when you do they have doing it is a lot easier and you’ll have that confidence there.”
Cheyenne Ruether, a master auto body technician and host of the TV science-based construction show “Backyard Ballistics,” said doing your own tire rotation is a great way to practice all the steps you’ll need to change a tire as well.
“Practice makes perfect,” Rueter told HuffPost. “The knowledge and ability to get yourself out of a pickle will save you a lot of time, money and stress or having to return favors to friends coming to your rescue!”
And if you’re practicing in your driveway and having trouble, Robin Johnson, owner of Georgia Auto Solutions in Conyers, Ga., suggests you take a breath and keep trying.
“If you find yourself struggling, don’t feel bad. “You’re not an idiot,” Johnson said. “Pros make it look easy, but until you actually get that jack, put it together, find a lift point on the vehicle [and change the tire], it’s not easy. Don’t be discouraged if this is a challenge for you.”
To help you on your tire changing journey, Bogi, Ruether and Johnson break down everything you need.
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Four-way wrench or tire iron
A rogue bar.
A reliable car jack
Set of rubber wedges for wheels
To prevent the car from rolling or moving when in the air, experts advise using a set of rubber chocks. “Put it on [them] on the opposite side of the car, diagonally across from what you’re working on,” Bogie said. “If you’re working on a left front tire, you’d put it behind the right rear tire. This is to keep the car from rolling when you destabilize it in the air.”
Reflective road safety triangles
If you’re changing a tire at night or in bad weather, Bogi and Ruether say it’s smart to keep visibility triangles in the car. “You definitely want to set yourself up for success,” Bogie said. “[L]if you raise your hood, put on the flashers, take off those reflective triangles. It’s a good idea to have them, just in case.”
A rug or mat for the knees
Johnson suggests keeping a towel, small rug or work mat, like this padded one, in the car to protect your knees and feet when changing a tire on the road. “If you have to get on the ground, you don’t want to get your knees dirty or hurt your knees kneeling on the ground to try to pick it up,” she said.
A set of gloves — yes, even cheap dishwashing gloves will do
Closed shoes and socks
Johnson and Bogie recommend keeping an extra pair of closed-toe shoes and a pair of clean socks in your car. “If you’re like me, you might wear flip-flops or heels,” says Johnson. “I personally keep a pair of boots in my trunk because I’m always prepared. I never know when I have to go from mother and wife to [a mechanic].”
Changing a tire is dirty work. Johnson suggests keeping a few hand wipes in your car to clean up while you change the tire and afterward.
Tire pressure gauge
Obviously, accidents happen out of nowhere, but all experts recommend keeping a tire pressure gauge in your glove compartment and making it a habit to check your tire levels monthly. That way, if a tire is flat, you’ll hopefully be able to catch it before it becomes a problem.
Pepper spray, just in case
For added protection when you’re having car trouble, Ruether recommends carrying body spray with you. “I encourage women to wear body spray,” she said. “Because not everyone on the road is a good Samaritan just trying to lend a helping hand.”
Car kit, for emergencies
Last but not least, Johnson and Rueter recommend keeping a “car kit” in your vehicle at all times, including water, a non-perishable snack, any medications you rely on, and anything else you might need in last resort. Johnson recommends keeping some extra hair supplies or body and face wipes so you can regroup after you fix your car.