Things You Should Know, Vol. 5: How to change a tire

youshouldknowYou don’t need to save someone’s life to be a hero. Maybe you just save their day.

Consider the inevitable flat tire.

Whether you’re traveling to school, work or summer camp, it’s bound to happen eventually. That makes knowing how to change a tire — either your own or one belonging to a stranger in need — an essential life skill.

As with most life skills, this is one young men and women can learn in Scouting.

Take Requirement 11c of the Automotive Maintenance merit badge, for example. It asks Scouts to: “Locate the manufacturer’s jack. Use the jack to demonstrate how to engage the jack correctly on the vehicle, then change a tire correctly.”

So pull over to a safe place, activate the parking brake and let’s learn how to change a tire.

How to change a tire

  1. lug-nutsStabilize (chock) the wheel that is diagonally opposite the flat tire by putting bricks, logs or other heavy objects in front of and behind it.
  2. Pry off the wheel cover or hub ornament with the narrowed end of the lug wrench.
  3. Loosen, but do not take off, the lug nuts with the wrench. You may have to step on the end of the lug wrench to make it turn.
  4. Find the notch under the door panel nearest the flat tire, and center the jack there. Turn the handle of the jack clockwise until the wheel is all the way off the ground.
  5. Remove the lug nuts and put them in a safe place, such as inside the wheel cover. Then, pull the wheel off the vehicle.
  6. Put on the new wheel and tire.
  7. Put the lug nuts back on with the tapered edges facing inward; hand-tighten them.
  8. Lower the vehicle by turning the jack handle counterclockwise. Remove the jack.
  9. Tighten the lug nuts all the way, following the order in the picture. Put the wheel cover or hub ornament back on. Put the jack and lug wrench back in the trunk, along with the flat tire. Get the flat tire fixed as soon as possible.

The relevant page in the Automotive Maintenance MB pamphlet


About this series

Things You Should Know (previously called Things Guys Should Know) is an ongoing series about those essential life skills all young people should have in their arsenal.

Cool thing is, everything in the series is a skill a guy or girl could learn in Scouting. Maybe he or she picks it up while spending time outdoors with his or her troop, team or crew. Or maybe he or she learned it in a merit badge pamphlet or while reading the Boy Scout HandbookFieldbook or Boys’ Life magazine. Either way, one thing’s clear: Scouting helps teach skills that help young people become better Prepared. For Life.

See all of the Things You Should Know here. And leave a comment if you think of a skill guys and girls should know (and learn in Scouting) that I should cover in a future edition.

Hat tip: That awesome Things You Should Know illustration is by Kevin Hurley.

About Bryan Wendell 3282 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.