Before the ink on my new driver’s license had time to dry, my dad was on the floor of our garage showing me how to change the tire because your old man isn’t going to be there when you go to college to fix your car, or so he said. My father equipped my car with what has forever been known as the “oh-no kit” which is a box full of supplies for unexpected car trouble. Specifically for changing a tire, the bare minimum supplies that should be carried in a car are:

  • A spare tire
  • A jack
  • A wheel brace

Some extras include:

  • A bright flashlight with spare batteries
  • A pair of gloves
  • An old towel or blanket to kneel on while working
  • A rubber mallet

How to change a tire

Even though blowing a tire while driving is scary, remember changing the tire is a simple mechanical skill anyone can do when remembering the following:

  • First, pull safely off the road, engage the emergency brake, and turn the hazard lights on
  • Slide the spare wheel under the sill of the car, near where you will be lifting from. This way if the car slips off the jack it will fall on the spare, giving you enough space to re-position the jack and lift the car again.
  • While the car is still on the ground, loosen the lug nuts (remove the hub cap first if you have one)
  • Extra tip! Lug nuts are very tight to keep the tire on while you drive! Once the wrench is on the nut, hit the wrench with the mallet to loosen the nuts
  • Use the jack to lift the car and finish removing the tire
  • Put the spare tire on the car and tighten each of the nuts by hand
  • Lower the jack down enough where the tire is just sitting on the ground, but not supporting any weight of the car yet and finish tightening the nuts with the wrench
  • Lower the car to the ground and ensure the nuts are tight
  • Follow the car’s owner manual for safe driving recommendations with a spare tire

Consult a professional

When things go wrong that need more work than changing the tire will do, taking the car to the shop may be the only option. In addition to taking care of the tires, cars need proper maintenance to have a long life. Often the most difficult, but most important step in taking care of your new car is finding the right auto insurance. As any parent would for their new teen driver, my dad added my car to his insurance policy. When the cards came in the mail, my parents sat me down and explained to me what my car insurance did and what to do if I ever needed to use it.

Make sure your car is adequately covered

To compare car insurance, start by doing a quick comparison shop to find the right auto insurance policy and car insurance company from different companies for you and your new teen driver. A lot of insurance companies like Geico, State Farm, Allstate, and USAA offer different insurance rates for new drivers. Some even give free car insurance quotes, so talk to an insurance agent as soon as your teen approaches 16 about adding them to your car insurance coverage.

Parents, did you know a teen driver can raise your car insurance policy over 100% in the U.S. and depending on your child’s gender, even more? Take your time to compare quotes and understand all available discounts to get the best price: some insurance companies offer teen driver discount for those who earn good grades, for those who graduate from a reputable drivers education course, those who are good drivers (meaning they have a clean driving record) and those of have a low mileage car. While a cheap insurance policy for your teen may not happen until they become more veteran drivers, you’ll feel good knowing your car insurance premium has your child covered even when you can’t be there.

When comparing auto insurance companies, some of the important things to look out for your coverage limit (in addition to the auto insurance rate) are the insurer’s liability insurance, premium, deductible, collision coverage, property coverage, liability coverage, medical coverage or medical payments coverage, and how maintaining a good driving record could reduce premium costs.

Knowing how to change a tire is an essential skill that drivers of all ages should learn. But, when bigger issues with your car inevitably happen, make sure you are covered and have the plan that is best for you and all the drivers in your household.

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