how to change a flat tire

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How to Change a Flat Tire: A Step by Step Guide

Too often, you’re not in a convenient location when you need to change a flat tire. Fortunately, with a little preparation, it doesn’t have to ruin your day. Changing a flat tire might be tricky at first, but before you know it, you’ll be a pro.

1. Collect Your Tools

The tools needed should always be stored in your vehicle. Items most vehicles come equipped with include:

  • A jack
  • The vehicle’s owner manual
  • A lug wrench
  • A spare tire (check this periodically to make sure it’s full)

Other items you’ll need to supply on your own include:

  • A flashlight or headlamp
  • A tire gauge
  • Wheel wedges
  • Work gloves
  • A rain poncho

2. Safely Pull Over and Park

The moment you realize your tire is flat, turn your hazard lights on and begin to slowly reduce your speed. Never settle for changing a flat tire on a narrow shoulder of the road. Slowly drive to a safer area. This could be a larger shoulder, an empty parking lot, or a nearby field.

After you have safely pulled off the road, apply your parking brake. Get out of your car and immediately place wheel wedges on the correct tires. If you are changing a back tire, your wedges should go in front of the front wheels. If you are changing a front tire, your wedges should go in back of the back wheels.

3. Loosen the Lugs

If your tire has a hubcap, remove it. They pop off fairly easy with the end of a lug wrench, but if yours doesn’t, you may need to consult the owner’s manual.

With the lug nuts exposed, give them a quarter to half turn counterclockwise using the lug wrench. They should be loose, but not completely off.

4. Jack Up the Vehicle

Check with your owner’s manual to find the right spot to place the jack so you can ensure safety. It’s typically underneath the frame near the flat tire. After it’s securely placed, begin to crank the jack so the tire rises off the ground. You don’t have to go too far up. Just look for light to shine under the tire, and you’ve got it high enough.

5. Remove the Bad Tire

Using the lug wrench, finish loosening the lug nuts and place them somewhere they can’t roll away. If the tire doesn’t come right off, give the sidewall a kick or two and it should break free. Set it out of the way on its side.

6. Mount and Tighten the Spare

Line up the rim of your spare tire with the lug bolts. Give it a good shove to make sure it sits where it should. With your fingers (not the wrench), begin to screw the lug nuts onto the bolts. Get them as tight as you can, but don’t worry that they’re not all the way tight yet.

7. Lower and Tighten Again

With the jack, slowly lower the vehicle until the tire touches the ground. Using the lug wrench, begin to tighten the lug nuts further. Lower the vehicle the remainder of the way so full weight is on the tire once again. Remove the jack. Tighten the lug nuts one last time, putting all the pressure you’ve got on the lug wrench so they’re as tight as you can get them.

8. Clean Up and Head Off

Before you clean up completely, check the pressure in your spare with the tire gauge. Put your tools away, wipe yourself off, and you can be on your way. Remember to head to the car shop for a replacement as soon as possible because spare tires aren’t meant for driving long distances.

9. Contact the Professionals

If you’re having trouble understanding how to change a spare tire, come to Greg’s Japanese Auto in the Puget Sound. Taking care of all your car maintenance needs, we’ll make sure to get you on the road again. Contact us today!

How Often Should You Get Your Brakes Checked?

How Often Should You Get Your Brakes Checked?

Your vehicle’s brakes are its most important safety feature, designed to keep you and everyone else on the road safe. The entire braking system is deceptively complex, involving many parts that need to be checked and replaced often. Not many people know with absolute certainty when their systems are failing, or when an inspection is required. Keeping the following guidelines in mind lets know exactly when to bring your car in for a brake check.

Best Practices

Ideally, you should have your brakes inspected once every six months. Most people have this done at the same time as they have their tires rotated, so they don’t forget. If you cannot recall the last time a professional examined your braking system, you should arrange an appointment as soon as possible. Depending on the type of traffic you endure and how you drive your car, you may need inspections more frequently. This is why you should pay attention to the warning signs of a brake system failure. Every time you come in for a service or repair at Greg’s Japanese Auto you can get your brakes checked by their professionals.

Reduced Responsiveness or Pulling

One of the first signs that your brakes may be failing is reduced responsiveness, requiring you to apply more pressure to the pedal to achieve the same effect. In other cases, the vehicle may pull slightly to one side whenever you apply the brakes. It is important to bring your car in for an inspection as soon as you notice these signs, because they only get worse with time, leading to hazardous driving situations.


Steering wheel vibration going down hills or when braking at higher speeds is another sign that your brakes need to be examined. These vibrations or pulsations are caused by rotors that have been warped or damaged. Vehicle owners who drive in brake-heavy conditions, such as driving down steep hills, should have their brakes examined often.

Loud Sounds

If you notice any grinding or growling sounds when you press on the brake, it could mean that your pads have worn down or are failing. These sounds often happen as the metal from the worn-down brake grinds against other components in the car, damaging the rotors. Driving with your brakes in this condition for too long is a serious safety concern.

If you are wondering “where can I get a brake check near me?” contact us at Greg’s Japanese Auto. Our team of skilled technicians can examine your brake system, as well as complete many other maintenance and repair services. Visit us in-store today or call 800-79-GREGS where our friendly office staff can help you book an appointment.


Image Credit: Dmitry Kalinovsky/Shutterstock 

Signs Your Car's Oil Needs Changing

Signs Your Car’s Oil Needs Changing

Most car owners know when to perform routine maintenance tasks, such as having your tires rotated and your brakes inspected. When it comes to fluids, however, many have the same question: when should you get an oil change? While many manufacturers recommend specific intervals, everything from the environment to the type of traffic you typically endure can mean you need your oil changed much sooner. Being familiar with the signs you need an oil change is a crucial part of car ownership.

Strange Sounds and Smells

It is important to know when to get an oil change, as many of the warning signs can create driving hazards. Old oil that needs to be replaced burns differently than it did when it was fresh. As a result, the interior of your vehicle may start to smell like oil. Individuals with allergies or scent sensitivities may find this nauseating.

Waiting too long to have your oil changed can also result in loud engine sounds, as the car has to keep itself powered without fresh oil to keep these parts lubricated. Drivers and others on the road may hear knocking, rattling, and clunking sounds as the engine struggles to work.

Exhaust Smoke and Oil Color

In the colder months, most exhaust pipes emit a translucent smoke. This is because of the way the hot car exhaust reacts with the cold air. The rest of the time, your exhaust should be clear. If you notice that there is a lot of smoke coming from this area of your car, it means your oil needs to be replaced.

Another sign that you should replace your oil soon is the color of the oil itself. If it is dark, gritty, and dirty-looking, it is probably old oil and needs to be replaced. You can check this yourself using the oil drip stick. See your Owners Manual or any Greg’s Japanese Auto location would be glad to show you where it’s located.

It’s Been A While Since Your Last Change

If you can’t remember when your last oil change was, it is probably time to bring your car in for maintenance. Car experts recommend changing your oil once every six months or so, and even sooner if you drive it in warm conditions or in stop-and-go traffic.

Make sure you don’t just head to the closest oil change place for work on your car. Take the time to look for an auto shop with a great reputation. If you’re looking for places to get an oil change nearby, you can visit us at Greg’s Japanese Auto. Our friendly and experienced technicians can complete your oil change or any other type of vehicle maintenance quickly and effectively. Visit us in-store or contact our friendly office staff to book an appointment today.

Does Your Car Have a Timing Belt or Timing Chain?

Does Your Car Have a Timing Belt or Timing Chain?

Figuring out if your car has a timing chain vs. timing belt often makes a huge difference when budgeting repairs. While belts and chains both connect the crankshaft to the camshaft(s), they have different lifespans and are prone to varying types of damage. Learning more about each one ensures your car runs smoother for longer. Belts are smooth, rubber objects making the connection while chains resemble large, thick bicycle chains.

Timing Belts

Timing belts were popularized in the 1960s when Pontiac came out with the overhead cam. Modern belts are made of rubber, fiberglass, and Kevlar, giving them extra strength and ensuring the rotation is quiet. At a bare minimum, you should replace your timing belt once every 60,000 to 105,000 miles, depending on your vehicle’s model.

Rarely, your belt needs to be replaced before that time. Here is how you know it’s time to start thinking about replacing your timing belt:

  • Check your Owner’s Manual for the mileage interval that is recommended by the manufacturer
  • Check your Owner’s Manual for the time interval that is recommended by the manufacturer
  • Call Greg’s Japanese Auto to learn more

It is a good idea to bring your car in for vehicle maintenance when you replace your belts. Pulleys, water pumps, and belt tensioners often require replacement at the same time, and it is easier to have a service technician complete these repairs.

Timing Chains

Timing chains serve the same purpose as belts and generally last much longer. Some manufacturers suggest replacement after a pre-set number of miles, while others state they are good for the life of the car with regular oil changes. Timing chains can create catastrophic conditions when they break, damaging many other engine parts. In general, you should keep an eye out for these symptoms:

  • Engine misfires
  • Metal shavings in your oil
  • Loud rattling sounds when idling

Regardless of whether your vehicle has a timing belt or chain, you need to stay on top of replacement. Driving with an outdated belt or chain can lead to major repair when they break. If you are searching for vehicle maintenance, come visit us at Greg’s Japanese Auto. Our service advisors and technicians have years of experience and can take care of your car’s needs. Contact us today to learn more or to book an appointment to have your timing belt or timing chain replaced.


Image Credit: Corepics VOF/Shutterstock 

Greg’s Japanese Auto

Tired of auto repair shops that don't understand your car? Want a car mechanic who does? Come to Greg's Japanese Auto.

We only work on Japanese makes and models, and we have the experience and knowhow to give your car the service it deserves. Call us today to schedule your appointment.

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For quality service of your Japanese car model, rely on Greg's Japanese Auto Parts and Service. Call to schedule your appointment today at 1-800-794-7347.