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How To Easily Change A Trailer Flat Tire

I usually prefer using my roadside assistance if our rig is in trouble, because I paid for it so I might as well use it. But there are times when it makes more sense to change a flat tire on your own rather than waiting for roadside assistance to show up:

  • You don’t want to wait a long time.
  • You’re somewhere without any cell service.
  • You’re not on a publicly maintained road (where roadside assistance won’t respond).

Why change your own flat tire?

Live Small | Ride Free
Photos by Live Small | Ride Free

Here’s a technique for using a ramp to change a flat tire on a trailer with 2 or more axles.

Live Small | Ride Free

You’ll need the following tools:

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  • Spare tire: Make sure it’s in good condition and holds air – no point changing a flat with another flat.
  • Lug wrench: Be sure it fits the lug nuts on your RV’s wheels. A breaker bar is a convenient alternative to the typical cross-shaped lug wrench.
  • Socket: If you’re using a breaker bar, make sure you also have a socket that fits both the bar and the lugs on your RV’s wheels.
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Portable air compressor with air chuck
  • Chocks
  • Ramps: only one is needed
  • Wrench: A wrench may be needed to remove your spare tire depending on how it’s attached to your RV.
  • Lubrication: Any light machine oil. WD-40 would work.

Why use ramps versus a bottle jack?

tires

I prefer ramps to a jack because the space between the ground and the bottom of an RV frame rail (where the bottle jack should be placed to lift a trailer) is around two feet. It would take a very large bottle jack to even reach the frame rail, and it’s not very safe or stable to have an RV lifted that high on a bottle jack.

Ramps are better because:

  • RVs remain very stable on them, even if it’s windy.
  • Ramps won’t sink into soft (sandy) ground.
  • Ramps can be used for other vehicle maintenance.
  • In a pinch, ramps could be used for traction if driving in deep sand.

The steps to changing a flat RV tire.

tires

  1. Pull over to a safe place, away from traffic.
  2. Gather all the tools you’ll need.
  3. Use the lug wrench to break loose (about ½ turn) the lug nuts on the wheel to be changed. (Easier to break them loose when the wheel can’t spin freely.)
  4. Drive your good tire that’s on the same side as the flat tire onto the ramp (may require backing onto the ramp).
  5. Make sure the wheel that needs to be changed can spin freely. If not, increase the height of the ramp by adding blocks under the ramp – or you can dig out from beneath the flat tire).
  6. Chock your tires on the side that you won’t be working on, and set the tow vehicle’s parking brake.
  7. Use your lug wrench to remove the lug nuts on the flat tire.
  8. Remove the flat tire from the hub.
  9. Install the spare tire onto the hub.
  10. Lubricate the studs before placing lug nuts back on. Lubrication will let you torque the lug nuts all the way.
  11. Tighten the lug nuts in a “star” pattern
  12. Reinstall your flat tire where your spare tire was.
  13. Drive off the ramp.
  14. Now that the tire can’t spin (because it’s on the ground), torque the lug nuts until tight.
  15. Check the air pressure in your other tires.

Now you’re all set to get back on the road quickly if you happen to get a flat tire on your trailer.



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