Auto Insurance Information Center

Fix Your Flat: Some roadside assistance tips
to keep you moving

21st Century Insurance Roadside Assistance - Flat Tire

We all love the feeling of riding on the open road: sun on your face, the breeze from an open window and your favorite tunes on the radio. Driving is rarely all fun in the sun though: traffic jams, high gas prices and flat tires all can put a damper on your enjoyment. We can't help with the first two, but we can provide some advice on how to quickly and safely get your car back on the road if you encounter a flat tire. Here are 10 easy steps to fix your flat and get back on the road.

1. Pull over as far as you can from moving traffic and secure your car by setting your emergency brake and putting a heavy object in front of the tire diagonally opposite from the tire you're changing to prevent the car from rolling.

2. Locate your spare tire and set it on the side of the road, away from traffic. Most spare tires look different than the tire that was just removed, often smaller and narrower.

3. If your tires have wheel covers (a.k.a. hubcaps), separate the cover from the hub by inserting a lug wrench or screwdriver and prying the cover off of the wheel.

4. Now you will see a hub with four to six lug nuts, or small, geometric screws. Using the lug wrench, loosen each of the nuts by fitting the wrench over it and turning counterclockwise you should be putting pressure on the wrench's left side. Loosen each lug nut just enough so you can move them by hand, but do not completely take them off.

5. Check your owner's manual for any specific jacking points for your car as recommended by the manufacturer. If there are no recommended spots on the car, a good rule of thumb is to place the car jack slightly inward towards the middle of the car relative to the tire you're working on. Do this by sliding the jack under your car, then using the tire iron, which looks like a metal handle, to raise the jack up using an even, circular motion.

6. Once you have raised the wheel so it is clear of the ground, completely remove the lug nuts and place them in your pocket or a cup holder you'll need them again shortly. Remove the tire by pulling it straight out toward your body and then rolling it off to the side of the road.

7. Place the spare tire onto the bolts and then screw the lug nuts back on the bolts. Alternate between the various lug nuts, tightening by hand and turning each of them each a little at a time, so the tire goes on evenly.

8. Slowly, lower the jack with the tire iron so the newly changed tire is resting completely on the ground and the jack is low enough that it slides out easily from the car. Tighten the lug nuts using the wrench as firmly as possible.

9. Place the flat tire in your trunk or other available area.

10. Slowly pull back on the road and get a new tire on your car as soon as you can. Avoid driving at higher speeds or long distances with a spare tire that is not a full-size replacement.

Knowing what to do in case of a flat tire is a part of being a prepared driver. 21st Century Insurance keeps our policyholders prepared through our 21st Roadside Assistance Program. Offering free 24-hour roadside assistance, peace of mind is a toll-free call away. Not a 21st Century customer? Get an online auto insurance quote and begin to take advantage of the benefits.

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