Fix a Flat Survival Guide

Got a flat tire? You'll survive.

Even if you know how to change a flat tire, chances are pretty good you'll run into problems you're not prepared for. Flat tire repair is never predictable, but this guide can help you survive the ordeal.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Surviving a flat tire

Your car or truck owner's manual shows you how to change a flat tire, assuming a best-case scenario. But the real world includes all kinds of surprises: lug nuts that won't budge, a wheel that's rusted to the hub or a spare tire that's so underinflated, it's useless. Don't think you're out of the woods just because you have roadside assistance. Because if you get a flat tire in an area with no cell phone coverage, or the service is so backed up that it'll be hours before they get to you, you just might have to change your tire yourself.

To help you survive a flat tire ordeal, we've collected these tips. Some we've taken from our own ugly encounters, and others we've learned from our readers.

Space-saver spares require extra caution

So slow down! The spare-tire manufacturers are serious about their 50-mph maximum speed limit. Get your flat tire repaired or replaced right away because space-saver spares are designed to run for only 50 to 70 miles.

Don't break your plastic wheel covers

Pack a tire inflator

Do you know where your keyed socket is?

Removing a stuck wheel

Fix-A-Flat can get you out of a jam!

Assemble a mission-critical kit

Whether you change your tire yourself or rely on a tire sealant, keep these “mission-critical” items in your vehicle at all times.

Wheel chocks. Keep your car from falling off the jack, especially on slopes.

Plug-in flashlight. Dark nights can make it impossible to see what you're doing.

Gloves. Good to have all year long, but critical for handling cold metal in subzero temps.

Tire inflator. You'll need this to fill low spares and top off tires repaired with Fix-A-Flat.

Wheel chocks
Plug-in flashlight.
Tire inflator
What's the deal with tire plugs?

Many DIYers think they can permanently repair tire punctures with just a plug. They're wrong. A tire plug is just half of the repair. The tire's interior liner must also be repaired with a patch, and that means a trip to the tire store. Skip the patch and you risk a catastrophic blowout.

Save your back when loosening lug nuts

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