How Do I Change a Flat Tire? [14 Steps]

There are few things worse than a flat tire. Getting a flat is something nearly everyone who drives has experienced and knowing how to change it is an essential skill for any driver. Changing a flat tire may sound simple and to some people who have done it before, it is. Fear not, even if you haven’t changed a flat before, it’s a very easy job that just about anyone can do. That being said, some steps need to be followed to keep you safe while doing it.

In this article, we are going to go over how to change a flat tire safely, so you have the know-how next time it happens to you!

Tools Needed For Changing a Flat

To change a flat tire, you will need at a minimum a jack, your spare tire, a lug wrench, and your owner’s manual. Nearly all vehicles come with these items. Spare tires can be found under the carpet in the trunk, hanging on the back, or bolted to the underside of your vehicle. The wrench and jack will typically be stored in the trunk or rear of the car as well. You can find your owner’s manual in the glove box.

Tools for Changing a Flat

Other Useful Items

In addition to the tools listed above, there are a few other things that can make changing a flat tire easier.

  • Poncho or raincoat for working in bad weather
  • A tarp to kneel on while changing the flat
  • A block of wood to secure the jack
  • Flashlight for working in the dark
  • Gloves
  • Wheel Chocks

None of these items are needed for changing a flat, but they will make the job a lot easier, especially if you are working at night, in the cold, or the rain or snow.

It’s a good idea to make sure you have all the required tools in your car at all times. If you bought a used car, make sure to check that at a minimum, there is a spare tire, a jack, and a lug wrench. Without these items, you will not be able to change a flat tire.

How To Change a Flat Tire

Follow these steps to safely change your flat tire and get back on the road!

1.) Find a Safe Parking Place

If you wake up to a flat tire in your driveway, this isn’t a huge concern. If you suddenly get a flat while driving, especially on a highway or interstate, it can be difficult to find a safe place to pull over. Ideally, find a pull-off, parking lot, or rest area where you can get away from traffic. Remember, you will be on the ground when changing your flat. Being right next to speed traffic is extremely dangerous.

In addition to moving away from the road, make sure you park in a flat area. Ideally, you should change your flat on a paved surface to prevent the jack from shifting.

2.) Secure Your Vehicle

Before getting out of your car, engage the E-Brake, and put the transmission in park (automatic) or reverse (stick shift). You do not want your car to move when has been lifted on the jack. If you have them, placing wheel chocks behind the wheels touching the ground will add an extra layer of security while you change the tire. Turn on your hazard lights to let other drivers know they should slow down.

3.) How to Remove a Flat Tire

Now that you have your tools ready and your car is safely secured, you need to remove the flat tire before putting the spare on. Follow these steps to get the flat off your car safely. Just to clarify, you will be removing the entire wheel and tire.

4.) Uncover and Locate the Lug Nuts

Some vehicles have hubcaps covering the lug nuts, and some do not. If you have hub caps, carefully remove them. A flat head screwdriver can come in handy for removing hubcaps.

5.) Loosen the Lug Nuts

Before jacking up the vehicle, loosen the lug nuts with your wrench. It can be difficult to break them loose. If you are having trouble, you can use your bodyweight or foot to apply extra pressure. At this point, you just want to break them loose. Don’t worry about removing them yet.

6.) Position the Jack Under the Car

Place the jack on a stable, flat surface. If you have to change a flat on a dirt road, placing a block of wood under the jack can help secure it. Most cars have specific lift points along with the frame for the jack. Reference your service manual if you are having trouble locating the jack points.

7.) Jack the Car Up

Carefully, begin to jack up the car. DO NOT put any part of your body beneath the car when it is jacked up. Jack the vehicle up until the flat tire is six inches off the ground. Having at least six inches of clearance will ensure the spare tire, which will be fully inflated, clears the ground when you put it on.

8.) Remove the Lugs

Depending on your vehicle, the wheel will be attached with either lug nuts or lug bolts. Lug nuts unscrew from studs that support the wheel, while lug bolts pass through the wheel into the hub. If you have lug bolts, be careful when removing them, the tire can drop suddenly when the last one comes out.

9.) Take the Flat Tire Off

With the lugs removed, it’s time to take the flat tire off. The easiest way to do this is to grip the tread and slowly pull out. If the wheel is stuck to the hub, wiggling from side to side can help break it loose. Once it’s off, lay the wheel flat on the ground so it doesn’t roll away.

10.) Install the Spare Tire

Now that the flat has been removed, it’s time to put the spare on! If your car uses lug nuts and studs, simply slide the spare into place and hand tighten the nuts.

 If you have lug bolts, it can be a bit tricky to get the spare on. Line the bolt holes up with the holes in the hub and carefully thread one of the bolts to hold it in place. Next, thread a bolt on the opposite side so the wheel sits flush with the hub. Now that it’s in place, you can thread the other bolts to hand tight.

11.) Return the Car to the Ground and Tighten the Lugs

With the lug’s hand tightened, slowly lower the vehicle on the jack until all four wheels are on the ground, but the spare is not supporting the weight on its own. Grab your wrench again and tighten the lug clockwise as far as you can go.

12.) Lower the Vehicle Entirely and Remove the Jack

Lower the vehicle to the ground and remove the jack. Give the lugs a final tightening to make sure they are as tight as they can be. Replace the hubcap (if applicable on the spare).

13.) Store Tools and Flat Tire

Return the tools to their storage locations within your car and put your flat tire where you found the spare.

14.) Check Spare Tread and Pressure

Once the spare is on the car, check the tire pressure with a hand-held gauge or at a nearby gas station. Additionally, make sure there is adequate tread on the spare.

You’re done! Now you can drive to a tire shop and get a new tire or have the flat repaired.

Types of Spare Tire and Driving Safety 

Depending on what type of spare tire your vehicle has, you may need to adjust your driving. A lot of modern vehicles come with very skinny, lightweight spare tires called “donuts”. This type of spare is only good for around 50 MPH and a limited number of miles. The wheel and tire itself will have warnings on them if you need to drive slower.

If you have a full-sized spare, you can generally drive normally. Keep in mind, if you have an all-wheel-drive vehicle and your spare has significantly more or less tread than the other tires, you can cause damage to the drivetrain over time.

Tire Repair and Replacement at Matson Point S

Knowing how to change a flat tire is an important skill to have, but you will still need a professional to fix your flat or replace it together. Matson Point S is your source for all things tires. Our Riverton repair shop provides Salt Lake Valley with auto repair, tires, marine service, and more. If you need a tire replacement or flat repair, don’t hesitate to give us a call or schedule an appointment online today!

Is Replacing a Heater Core Expensive?

When you turn on the heat in your car on a cold morning, you expect to feel hot air coming through the vents once the engine is up to temperature. The heater core is the reason your heat works. The heater core utilizes hot coolant from the engine to warm the cabin, keeping you comfortable while you drive no matter how cold it is outside.

If your repair shop tells you, it’s time for a new heater core, your first question will probably be how much will it cost? In this article, we are going to go over what’s involved with this repair and the ballpark cost of what you can expect to pay.

What is a Heater Core?

The heater core looks like a miniature radiator buried deep in the dashboard. Hot coolant flows through passages in the core from the engine. In the dash, a fan blows air over the heater core. The hot air passes through the vents into the cabin, warming you and your passengers as you drive. The heater core is a component of the coolant circulation system. This means issues with the heater core can potentially impact other areas of your car, including the engine.

How Do They Fail?

Like we said before, heater cores do not fail all that often. Age and neglect make them more likely to have problems.

Leaking Heater Core

A leaking heater core can cause some significant issues. First, coolant will leak in the dash. Leaking coolant can form puddles in the footwells and make the entire cabin smell. Second, the air coming through the vents will not be as hot as you are used to. Third, any time coolant is leaking out of the system, you run the risk of overheating your engine. Overheating can lead to serious damage and very expensive repairs.

Several things can cause a heater core to leak. Plastic end tanks on the core can rot out or crack. This is especially true on older vehicles that have been driven for many years. Additionally, vibration from engine operation can make the welds on the core come undone.

Clogged Heater Core

Heater cores can become clogged as they age, particularly if coolant flushes have been neglected. Debris and other particles block coolant passages within the core and can cause it to leak. Electrolysis, which happens when there is an excessive electrical current in the cooling system, can lead to buildup in the heater core, causing a clog.

Is It Expensive to replace a heater core?

This repair can be expensive. The cost of the job can be broken into two sections: parts, and labor. We are going to look into the costs of both sections to give you an idea of what you can expect to pay.

How Much Does a Heater Core Cost?

Like any part, the price depends on your vehicle. On some cars and trucks, it’s possible to replace just the core. Other heater cores are integrated into larger components within the dash. At the low end, heater cores start at around $100. You can expect to pay lower prices on inexpensive economy cars. At the high end, parts prices for a heater core can be closer to $1000. Luxury cars and SUVs generally have more expensive parts.

The best way to know how much the part will cost is to talk to a service advisor at your favorite repair shop, but a quick search online can also provide you with a price range.

Heater Core Replacement Labor Cost

The most expensive part of replacing a heater core is the labor. Labor charges pay the technician for the work required to complete the repair. Accessing the heater core is the most time-consuming part of this repair. In some cases, the entire dashboard must come out to access it.

The time to replace a heater core varies significantly from car to car. Most vehicles require five to seven hours to complete the repair, but some take as long as 15 hours. Labor rates also vary from shop to shop but expect labor fees to start around $500 to $600 for most cars. Others may cost as much as $1200 to $1500.

Total Cost of a Heater Core Replacement

There’s no way to put an exact number on the cost of this repair with such wide variability in price, labor times, and shop labor rates. If your heater core needs to be replaced, you should plan on, at the bare minimum, $800-$1000. The price can quickly shoot up if your car requires a lot more time to get to the core, or if the parts are particularly expensive, closer to $1800-$2000.

air conditioning vents

Can I Replace a Heater Core Myself?

It’s unlikely you will be able to replace a heater core on your own without lots of experience working on cars, ample space, time, and tools. This repair is in-depth, requiring lots of disassembly. Heater core replacements are best left to a professional, so you know the job is done right.

Heater Core Replacement at Matson Point S

If your heater core is leaking or clogged, don’t delay getting it replaced. Our team of skilled technicians will perform the repair right the first time and get the heat flowing through your vents again. Give us a call or schedule an appointment at our Riverton, UT auto repair shop today!

How Much Should I Pay for an Oil Change?

Getting an oil change is essential for proper engine functioning and maintenance. Fresh oil provides proper lubrication to moving components, preventing wear and tear as you drive. Depending on how much you drive and the age of your vehicle, you probably get between one and three oil changes per year. You might be wondering, how much should I be paying for an oil service?

Oil Change Components 

An oil service doesn’t vary all that much in terms of supplies and procedure. When you get an oil change, you are paying for labor, new oil, and a new oil filter.

Oil

Oil brand and type (synthetic, synthetic blend, or conventional) can impact the price, with a full synthetic oil change generally being more expensive.

Another factor that can impact prices is the size of your engine. A lot of shops will advertise a flat rate for an oil change up to five quarts. If you drive a car with a large oil capacity, the cost will be more. This is simply due to the amount of oil required to fill your engine.

 Oil Filter

There are a few different varieties of oil filters, screw on and cartridge. Conventional screw-on filters (when you think of an oil filter, this is probably what you imagine) are generally less expensive.

screw-on-oil-filter
Screw-on oil filter

Many modern vehicles use cartridge filters, which sit inside of a housing. This variety will typically cost more.

cartridge-oil-filter
Cartridge oil filter

Your repair shop will know the type of oil filter your car needs.

Oil Change Cost

You may have seen varying prices advertised at different shops. Some shops offer extremely cheap oil services, under $50. Other shops may charge $100 or more. What gives?

Quality Parts

Typically, places that offer low-cost oil services are using lower-quality filters. Lower quality filters do not offer the same protection as an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) quality one. While it’s better than nothing, you are getting what you pay for.

Courtesy Inspection

An oil service at Matson Point S includes a courtesy inspection of your vehicle. We can’t say this is the case at every shop that charges more for an oil change, but typically, if you are paying a higher price your car will get looked over.

Experience 

Getting an oil change at a reputable shop that charges a bit more money typically means the technicians working on your car are experienced and have a knowledge of vehicles beyond a standard lube tech. This means mistakes are less likely to happen. We have seen instances, particularly on more complicated European vehicles, where simple mistakes during an oil service have led to at best, a car needing to be towed to another shop to be completed, or at worst needing an engine replacement.

How Much Should You Pay for an Oil Change?

Ultimately, it’s up to you. A $35-$60 oil change will get you oil and a new filter, but the filter may not be OEM quality. Additionally, you probably won’t be getting a courtesy inspection, and you run the risk of mistakes being made by less experienced technicians.

Oil Changes at Matson Point S

An oil change at Matson Point S will get you OEM quality parts, fluids, and a courtesy inspection performed by ASE-certified technicians with years of experience. We serve the communities in and around Riverton, Utah. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online today!

My Car Heater Isn’t Working, What Should I Do?

During the hot summers in Utah, the last thing you are thinking about is whether or not the heat in your car works. As the seasons start to change and the weather gets colder, most drivers expect no issues when they turn the heater on in their car. Sometimes, after months of no use, you may turn the heater on to find cold air, or no air at all, coming through the vents. If you find yourself in this situation, you are probably wondering what went wrong?

How does the heater work in a car?

The hot coolant is sent to the heater core once the engine is up to operating temperature. A fan then blows over the heater core, pushing the hot air into the car.

Why is my car heater not working?

If your heater isn’t working, there are several potential reasons why. Repairing this issue can vary in difficulty and cost. A certified technician will be able to tell you the exact cause of your heating issue.

Low coolant

The coolant that enters the heater core is also used to keep your engine at the proper operating temperature and prevent overheating. If you are not feeling the heat coming through the vents once your car has warmed up, the first thing to check is your coolant level. Low coolant will prevent the heater core from filling, reducing its effective heat distribution.

If you want to check your coolant level yourself, BE CAREFUL. When the engine has been running, the coolant is pressurized and extremely hot. Read your vehicle’s owner’s manual and check the level without opening the reservoir if possible.

Low coolant can indicate a coolant leak. With the hood up, examine visible hoses for signs of seeping or leaks. Be sure to check the ground under where you parked for drips or coolant puddles.

Heater Core Issues

Heat issues can stem from a problem with the heater core. A miniature version of the radiator found in the dash, the heater core is a component in the engine cooling system and is filled with hot coolant. The heat emitted from the heater core is blown into the cabin, keeping you warm.

Your car is far less efficient when the engine is cold and can emit a lot more pollution. The thermostat keeps coolant circulating through the engine when it’s cold to warm it up quickly. This is why you don’t feel the heat coming through the vents when you first start your car.

Once the engine is warm, you normally feel the heat coming through the vents as the thermostat opens and allows hot coolant into the heater core. However, if the coolant is unable to flow freely through the heater core, your heater will not work as it should.

Infrequent coolant flushes can lead to corrosion and rust. These particles can clog the heater core and prevent the free flow of coolant. Regular coolant flushes can prevent this condition from occurring.

Another cause of heater core failure is electrolysis. Electrolysis occurs when there is a chemical imbalance in the coolant system, creating an acidic environment. Under these conditions, electrical energy is generated within the system much like a car battery.

Electrolysis causes corrosion, which may lead to your heater core leaking and clogging. This condition can also damage other parts of your vehicle’s cooling system. Electrolysis can be prevented with regular coolant flushes, and typically happens on older vehicles.

If you notice a sweet smell or fogged windows when the heater is on, you may have an issue with your heater core.

Failing Thermostat

The thermostat regulates the flow of coolant to the radiator, allowing your engine to heat up/cool down as needed during operation. Thermostats can fail in two ways. If it ends up stuck in the open position, coolant is allowed to flow through the radiator regardless of engine temperature. If this condition occurs, your engine will have trouble getting up to and maintaining operating temperature. You will feel this in the heating system as well, as the coolant in the heater core will not be as warm as it is when the thermostat is functioning properly.

Broken Heater Controls

The buttons and knobs that control the heat and AC in your car can become gummed up, wear out, and stop working as they should. If you have enough coolant and your heater core appears to be issue-free, your problem may be as simple as a stuck button.

Heater problems? Matson Point S Can help!

Our team of expert technicians will diagnose and repair your heater issue the first time. Give us a call or schedule an appointment at our Riverton repair shop today!

Are All-Season Tires Good For Snow?

Do you need a dedicated snow tire? Will all-seasons work in the snow? This common tire question gets asked by many drivers as winter approaches. Tires have a variety of different tread patterns and rubber compounds that make them more effective in certain road conditions. Understanding these differences can help you decide whether you need a committed winter tire or if an all-season will work for you.

What conditions are all-season tires good for?

All-season tires offer some of the smoothness and comfort of a summer tire with some of the traction of a true winter tire. They offer better traction on variable roads but retain comfort and better fuel economy that winter tires lack. In general, all-seasons work well on wet roads, mild winter weather, and temperatures at or above 45° F.

The rubber compound is impacted by temperature

One of the main reasons all-season tires are not as effective in cold, wintery conditions is because of the rubber compound they use. Below 45° F, the rubber gets significantly stiffer. With less flexibility, the tire does not offer the same level of grip. Combine this with ice, snow, and slush, and the tire becomes much more likely to break traction.

Winter tires use a rubber compound that retains its flexibility in sustained cold temperatures. Because of this, snow tires can provide effective traction on snow and ice regardless of temperature.

Tire construction allows for more traction

Winter and snow tires are designed differently than all-season and summer tires. They typically have wider, deeper, and more jagged tread that gets better purchase on snow and ice. Snow tires also have significantly more siping. Sipes are small slits in rubber tread blocks. When you drive, the sipes open up, moving slush and water out of the tire’s contact patch. They allow for drastically improved traction on variable roads.

Should I get winter tires?

It all depends on where you live and the conditions you drive in. If you live in a place that sees regular heavy snow and extended periods of freezing temperatures, snow tires are highly recommended. Every trip you make in the winter will be safer for you and those around you.

If you live in an area that is a bit milder, but you frequently make trips into the mountains for skiing or other activities, snow tires are still your best bet. While you may not need the extra traction at home or during the week, having it when you are driving a hazardous mountain will ensure you don’t get stuck or go off the road.

Lastly, if you live in an area that stays mild in the winter with light snow and a few days of really cold weather, all-season tires may be a better option. If you do not need the extra traction, the fuel economy and comfort of an all-season will be beneficial.

tire in snow

Isn’t changing between summer and winter tires a pain?

Not having to change tires twice a year is what makes all-seasons so appealing to so many drivers. While it may seem inconvenient, there are things you can do to make the change over less of a hassle.

Use a set of winter wheels

Purchasing a set of inexpensive wheels to mount your winter tires on will make your yearly tire change easier. Instead of removing a set of tires from the wheels and mounting another set, you simply have to swap out the “summer wheels” for the “winter wheels”. Having a set of inexpensive winter wheels also protects the expensive alloys your car may have from corrosion due to road salts/other debris.

Time your tire changes with vehicle service

Instead of making an appointment just to get your tires changed in the fall and spring, have it done when your vehicle is getting an oil change, brake service, or other regular maintenance. It’s a good idea to service your vehicle before and after winter anyway!

Yearly changeovers extend the life of your tires

Having a set of summer and winter tires means they are each used for half the year. This extends the life of your tires, meaning you won’t have to buy new ones for several seasons.

Come visit the tire experts at Matson Point S! 

Utah drivers should have a set of proper snow tires to handle the winter weather we see in our state. If you need help selecting the best winter tire for your car or budget, or need to schedule a tire changeover, give us a call, or schedule an appointment. Our skilled technicians will make sure your car is ready for the winter.

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