A flat tire in front of you can be daunting, especially if you have never changed a tire before. As it turns out, changing a tire is a little like riding a bicycle: awkward at first, but soon you will get the hang of it. Follow a few simple safety tips, get a little dirty, and receive an enormous sense of satisfaction when you change your own tire.


Start with securing your vehicle. Mike Allen with Popular Mechanics says safety is key, and recommends pulling "your car into a safe spot, even if it means driving on the flat tire." Find a wide, flat shoulder or a level parking lot, and don't park on a hill—you don't want your car sitting at a precarious angle with one tire up in the air. Shift your car into park (put the car in first or reverse if it's a manual transmission) and engage your emergency brake. Chock the tire across and opposite of the flat with a block of wood or a rock to keep the car from rolling.


Get out all of your tools. You need a jack rated for your car, a lug wrench, a spare tire and a flat-tipped screwdriver if you have hubcaps. Your car manual can tell you where your spare and jack are located, and help you position the jack. Check your spare's air pressure make sure it has enough air, and take everything over to your flat tire.


Before you raise the car, you need to loosen the lug nuts. Miles of road grime can lock these in place, and it is easier to break this seal when the tire is still on the ground. Remove your hubcap, if you have one, by inserting the screwdriver into the slot and prying the plastic cover off. Take the lug wrench and loosen each lug nut just until it starts to turn. Be prepared to grunt and groan if these are on very tight. Do not continue to unscrew the lugs.


Place the jack underneath your car. "This is the part that many inexperienced tire-changers don't like," says Christopher Neiger. "But don't let it be intimidating; it's just a simple part of the whole process." A picture in your car manual or on the jack will show you where the vehicle's jacking points are, indicating where it is safe to place the jack. If your jack didn't come with your car, then you can find the jacking points yourself: look for a flat, metal strip under the car that runs from one tire to the other. Check that the jack is stable, and won't tip or move when you begin putting weight on it.


Slowly move the jack's handle up and down to lift the car into the air. If it is a scissor jack, turn the wheel on the jack to lift the car. You need to raise the car high enough so that the flat tire is no longer touching the ground and spins freely.


Remove the lug nuts with the lug wrench, and store them in a safe place: the last thing you want is to loose these in the weeds. Carefully lift the flat off the wheel. Car tires are lighter, and easier to remove, but large truck and SUV tires can be heavy and awkward. Use smart lifting techniques (with your core muscles) to keep from hurting your back.


Roll the spare tire up to the empty wheel well. Line up the lug nuts on your car with the holes on your rim while the tire is still on the ground, and lift the tire onto the lug nuts. "One trick that might help," offers Edmunds.com senior automotive editor Brent Romans, "is to balance the tire on your foot while you move it into position." Once the lug nuts are lined up, push the tire all the way onto the wheel. Use your fingers to screw on the lug nuts, and then snug each one with the lug wrench. Start with the lug nut on top, move to the one on the opposite side, and continue around the tire in a star pattern. Lower the car to finish tightening the lug nuts. Repeat the star pattern again, this time tightening as much as you can, being careful not to strip the nuts.


If your spare is smaller than your regular tire, then you should head to a tire store as soon as possible. "Donut spare tires are not made for extended service," advises Tom Torbjornsen, maintenance editor at AOL Autos. "The tire is designed simply to get you to a repair facility." Check your owner's manual or the side of your spare for more information about its life expectancy and top mile per hour rating.