Tires are one of the parts of a car that get the most attention. You should know how to determine when your tires are old by the look of them and the way they perform. If you have an old set of tires, you’re substantially increasing your risk on the road.
Ahead, we’ll get into some of the signs you need new tires, new tire deals that are available, and how to change a flat tire when you’re in a pinch.
When Do You Replace Your Tires?
A lot of factors determine when it’s time to get new tires. Time is the first factor, and usually, one that most people use to gauge when their tires are too old. As a general rule, you should change your tires every three or four years.
Depending on your driving frequency, conditions, and environmental impact, you might have to change your tire more often than the above specified time. If the tread of your tires looks worn, you’re certainly in need of a new set. You can also tell it’s time for replacements when you see little cracks begin to develop in your tires.
Buying New Tires
If you’ve recently had your car serviced and your tires are losing some tread, your mechanic will likely try to sell you some tires. Instead of buying them on the spot, it’s a good idea to shop around a bit beforehand.
You can likely find some tire deals or tire coupons online. The National tire and battery company always has coupons on their websites for all types of vehicle services. You can find NBT coupons for oil changes, batteries, and of course, new tires.
You should always aim to take advantage of NBT coupons, regardless of the service you need. To make sure you’re still getting the best deal, do a quick search of “tires for sale near me.” You might be able to find tire specials that aren’t included in with NBT.
Never Buy Used Tires
Tires only last a few years with regular use, and you’ll need to replace them periodically. You can find new tires for a reasonable price, especially if you’re looking at NBT coupons. There’s no reason to save an incremental amount of money in the short-term when you are only spending more to replace your tires again.
Used tires will already be a bit worn and exposed to the elements. We recommend buying new tires unless a family member or friend is giving them to you for free.
How to Change a Tire
Changing a tire is something that everyone should know how to do. In the era of AAA servicing, too many drivers leave basic car maintenance to the professionals.
If you get a flat tire, there’s no reason you should have to call a professional for help. A tire change is one of the easiest car maintenance activities to complete. You can save time, money, and hassle by learning how to change your own tire.
Don’t rely on professionals to help you out of a tight jam. You might not always be able to reach a professional for assistance, and driving on a flat tire can irreparably damage your car.
What You’ll Need
All you need to change a tire is:
- A car jack specific to your car. You’ll usually find these located with the spare tire
- A spare tire. If you haven’t already used your spare, it will likely be located under a panel in your trunk
- A tire air gauge. Your car may or may not include this in your tire change kit as well
- A lug nut wrench that adheres to your car’s specifications. Again, this will probably be located with your spare tire.
Make sure that you have all of these materials in your car at all times. You’re not going to see your flat tire coming, which is one of the inconvenient aspects of it. You might have to change your tire on the fly, and if you don’t have these tools, it’s going to be much more of a hassle.
It’s also a good idea to include supplementary tools like a flashlight, gloves, and a poncho in your trunk with the rest of your tire change kit. Again, you never know when a flat tire might strike. Changing a tire on a rainy night is near impossible without the above-listed accessories.
Step 1: Pull Over Somewhere Safe
Finding a place to pull over is often the trickiest part of changing a tire. Even if you’ve changed your tire a hundred times before, you’ll almost never find the perfect place to pull over.
A parking lot is the ideal place to pull over, but that’s not always possible. If you’re on the highway, drive on the shoulder until there’s a long stretch of road. You want other cars to be able to see you and avoid you.
You also need to find a flat surface to complete this job. If your car is on a hill or an incline, you risk tipping it over when you lift it from the jack.
Driving on a rim is never a good idea, but paying to replace a rim is much preferable to getting hit by an oncoming car. Driving too long on the flat tire can make it near impossible to get the lug nuts off, though. If you drive too long without finding somewhere safe to park, you might need to call for a tow.
Once you find your spot, you can turn on your hazard lights and get out of the car. Make sure to apply your parking brake to prevent your car from moving. Wheel wedges improve the chances your car will stay put as well, so use them if you have them handy.
Step 2: Begin Removing the Flat Tire
You’ll want to get the wheel a bit loose before inserting the jack. If your car has hubcaps, take the hubcap off of the flat tire and place it somewhere where you won’t forget it. Leaving it on the ground is a recipe for losing a hubcap.
Most of the time, the flat end of your lug wrench will be enough to get the hubcap free. Check your owner’s manual, though, as some cars use different methods of securing their hubcaps.
Once you remove the hubcap (or if you don’t have a hubcap at all), loosen the lug nuts using your lug wrench. The lug nuts turn counterclockwise to loosen, and you probably have to use a bit of force to get them loose.
Only turn them a little bit at this time. You don’t want to remove them completely until you have the jack in place.
Step 3: Raise Your Car
If you aren’t sure where to place the jack, take a look at the owner’s manual for a better idea. You can usually tell where it should go, however, by the plastic frame next to the tire.
Once you have the jack in the correct position, raise the car until your tire is five or six inches off the ground. Make sure you’re not lifting the car too high, or you’ll risk tipping it over.
Step 4: Remove the Flat
After you secure the jack and raise the vehicle, it’s time to unscrew the lug nuts and remove the flat tire completely. You can probably unscrew the lug nuts by hand once they’re loose enough.
Grab the tire by its threads and gently pull towards you until it’s free. Avoid using too much force here, or you may damage the rim of your tire.
Step 5: Install the Spare
Place the spare tire where the flat was, then tighten your lug nuts by hand. Twist them clockwise until you can’t twist them anymore, then lower the jack until your tire touches the ground.
Keep some of the weight of the car on the jack and some of it on the tire. Use your lug wrench to tighten the tire as much as you can. Don’t be shy about using force here.
Once the tire is tight, it’s time to lower the car, so the full weight is on all four tires again. Remove the jack, replace the hubcap, and make sure everything is put away where you need it.
Use your pressure gauge to check the spare tire pressure. These spares aren’t as durable as regular tires, and you can only drive a handful of miles on them. Take your car to the mechanic as soon as you can, and they will take care of your flat.
Getting a Deal on New Tires
There are thousands of tire retailers out there, and many will offer some kind of deal for you. You might even be able to negotiate with the mechanic to get the best deal you can find. If not, you’ll always find online coupons through NBT and other similar vehicle service centers.
If you’ve recently changed a flat tire, it’s paramount you buy a replacement as soon as possible. Spare tires don’t last very long and will fail after a handful of miles. You shouldn’t rely on a spare any longer than you have to, which is usually a trip home and a trip to the auto body shop.