Have you got a tire puncture in the middle of your journey? Perhaps you’ve noticed signs of a low tire tread, and you’re afraid that it’ll put you at risk while on the road. Or maybe you haven’t changed your tires for a long time and figure it’s time to replace them.
Whatever the case, the first thing that pops into your head is, “How can I change a tire, and how long does it take to change a tire?”
The time it takes to change a tire will depend on the situation:
- Changing a tire by a professional: 5 to 15 minutes.
- Changing a tire in an auto care center: 45 minutes to 5 hours.
- Changing a tire with the help of roadside assistance: Less than an hour.
- Changing a tire on your own: 15 to 30 minutes.
Generally speaking, you can replace a tire in 15 minutes. But it may vary depending on the situation, vehicle model and the person who’s trying to do the job.
We’ll tell you how long it’ll take to change a tire by yourself, in the tire center and with the help of roadside assistance.
How Long Does It Take a Professional to Change a Tire?
As the term ‘professional’ indicates, these people are experts in this field. So, they’re many times faster than a regular car owner when it comes to changing a tire.
Unfortunately, it won’t take 20 seconds like you see on Nascar. For a mechanic, it would take around 10 minutes to change a regular tire. This means they can have all four wheels ready to go in 40 minutes.
However, some factors can cause delays in the process and increase the time up to four hours. For example, your car may be far from the tire shop, the provider may be busy with other customers, or it may fail to offer fast customer service.
Here are the most popular tire centers in America. You can schedule a time with any of them according to your preferences.
How Long Does It Take to Change a Tire at Walmart?
Walmart stores have about 265 million customer visits per week. So, obviously, you won’t be the only customer there.
Depending on how many cars are waiting in front of you, you might spend between one to four hours in a Walmart auto care center. So, although the long lines indicate its outstanding services, you ought not to consider Walmart if you’re a busy bee.
How Long Does It Take to Change a Tire at Costco?
It will take at least 45 minutes and at most two hours to replace all four tires at Costco. Compared to other large tire services, the average time for a tire change is less with this provider. But it has some limitations as well.
For example, the staff won’t install your tire unless you buy it from Costco. Plus, the tire installation fee at Costco is higher than that of Walmart.
How Long Does It Take to Change a Tire at Firestone?
With a time guarantee, Firestone promises to prepare your car right at the appointed time. If the staff fail to make it ready at the specified time, it will take 10 percent off your next visit.
Despite that, customer feedback indicates waiting time is still long in these auto shops. Some customers have to wait up to five hours—but if you’re lucky enough to be the first customer or you’ve made an appointment, you’ll make it through in just 45 minutes.
How Long Does It Take Road Assistance to Change a Tire?
According to the J.D. Power and Associates Emergency Roadside Assistance Study, drivers wait an average of 50 minutes until help arrives. However, depending on the roadside assistance program you use and the system you’re calling from, the duration may vary slightly.
Aside from the waiting time, roadside assistance requires around 10 minutes per wheel to change your car tires.
Also, since they’re emergency programs, you usually don’t ask for a four-tire replacement. So the whole process takes less than an hour.
How Long Does It Take to Change a Tire by Yourself?
Although easier, it’s not always possible to visit a tire service or call a professional. Imagine you get caught with a flat tire in the middle of the road. Your phone battery is dead and you don’t have a telematics system in your car.
This scenario is a nightmare for those who don’t know how to replace a tire. So you’d better learn how to change the tires rather than relying on professionals. This way, you’ll not only save money but also survive in challenging situations.
If you’re a bit of a handyman and have all the necessary tools, it would take about 15 to 20 minutes to change your car tire. However, if it’s your first effort, you may need 30 minutes or more to replace each tire.
Here’s how to change your tire by hand. But before going through the steps, you should know what equipment you need for a tire replacement. Get the tools ready and put them in your car trunk for an emergency.
- A fully inflated spare tire.
- A carjack.
- Lug wrench/wheel brace.
- Wheel wedges.
- Alignment studs.
- Extension bar.
- Instruction manual.
- A wheel lock.
- A flashlight or torch.
- Work gloves.
- Emergency triangle.
Changing Tires Without Professional Help
Step #1: Find a Safe Place to Park
First, you should park your vehicle on solid level ground so that it won’t roll. Then, you should make sure you’re not in the way of other cars.
A home garage or empty parking lot is the best place to change a tire. But if you’re facing an emergency on the road, slow down the car and park in the nearest location. For more safety, turn on your emergency flashers, use the emergency triangle to warn other drivers and don’t park in a road bend.
Step #2: Secure the Car
Shift the gear to the neutral position and pull up the hand brake. Then, place the wedges against the tires (except for the one you’re going to replace) to further control the car. If you don’t have wedges, some wooden blocks or heavy stones will do the trick.
Step #3: Loosen the Lug Nuts
Use your lug wrench and twist it to the left to screw off the lug nuts, but don’t remove them completely.
Step #4: Raise the Vehicle and Remove the Lug Nuts
Once the lug nuts are loose, put the jack under the vehicle in a vertical position along with the frame. Then lift it until the tire is around 6 inches above the ground, and pull the lug nuts off. Don’t forget to put them in your pocket or somewhere safe so that they won’t roll away.
Step #5: Dismount the Old Tire
Grip the tire treads, remove the tire and set it somewhere away from the road.
Step #6: Place the New Tire
Install the tire on your car, and screw the bolts back by hand. Lower the car down without forcing its full weight on the tire. Then, use the wrench to tighten the lug nuts and remove the carjack.
When Should I Change My Car Tires?
Now that you know how much it would take to change a tire, you might wonder when it is right to change it.
Tires wear down over time. This means that even if you check the air pressure, regularly align your wheels and take care of tire service and tire maintenance regularly, tread wear over time is inevitable.
Be it because of the weather, road conditions, your driving style or the tread wear rating, every tire works for a limited time and sooner or later, you’ll have to replace it.
The maximum lifespan of most tires is 10 years. However, some factors can shorten their life.
For example, if you’re a fast driver, you’ll probably need to change it sooner. Moreover, if you live in, or regularly travel to, very hot, cold or dry weather, the chance of getting a flat or wear and tears increases.
Here are a few other factors that will make you go for a tire change sooner than 10 years:
- Harsh sunlight.
- Too much rain or snow.
- Greasy, icy or damaged roads.
- Driving on curbs, mountains and uneven surfaces.
- Too many obstacles and speed bumps.
- Using a combination of tire types at once.
- Improper use of tire types (e.g., using summer type tires in winter.)
- Incorrect use of tire size.
- Transporting excessive loads with the car.
To know the right time to change your tire, you should do a thorough examination each year. If you observe any of the following issues, it’s time for a tires change:
- You’ve gauged the tread depth (via a tread wear indicator or other methods) and realized it’s lower than what’s advisable.
- You’ve noticed cracks, bubbles and bulges on your tire.
- The sidewalls of the tires are clearly ruined.
- You feel a vibration behind the wheel while driving.
- You’ve had frequent flats in a short time.
- You’ve driven more than 25,000 miles with the tires (for careful drivers, the tires may last up to 50,000 miles.)
- The tire valve cap is defective and seems to leak air.
FAQs on Changing Tires
How Long Can You Drive on a Tire?
You can drive on a tire for at least five years and, at most, 10 years. After this long period, you should immediately change your tires, even if they seem to be usable.
Another factor to consider is the mileage you’ve driven with those tires. Although it may vary according to the tire handbook, most tires need replacement after running 25,000 to 40,000 miles.
Should All 4 Tires Be Replaced at the Same Time?
Ideally, all four tires should be replaced at the same time, unless there’s a puncture in one of the tires. In other words, if the tires have worn as a result of ordinary use, you should replace all of them at once. But if you run into a flat tire situation, there’s no need to replace other tires.
However, make sure you’re using the same model and brand. Having a variety of tire types or brands on your vehicle can lead to instability.
Do You Need an Alignment After Replacing One Tire?
You won’t need an alignment after replacing one tire because it has nothing to do with tire replacement. However, if the provider checks the car on the balancing machine for free, it’s sensible to do so. Aligned tires will ensure you’ll have a smooth ride. It adjusts the angle between your tires and the road and increases the longevity of your tires.
Is It OK to Have Different Tires Front and Back?
Except for a few manufacturers that approve using mixed tires for the car, it’s not ideal or safe to have different tires front and back. All four tires should match in their sizes, tread patterns, models and even brand. This way, you won’t bother to replace each tire at a different time. It also ensures your safety and control.
How Far Can You Drive on a Flat Tire?
You can drive several miles on a flat tire before the wheel edges get damaged. However, you should go slowly and make sure the tire is not entirely free of air. If the tire shop is not close enough, try to find a safe parking lot and change it yourself.
If you have a pump in your trunk, you can also stop the vehicle after a couple of minutes and inflate the wheels. This may allow you to drive a little further.
How Long Will It Take to Change a Flat Tire?
With the right tools and enough skills, changing a flat tire would take no more than half an hour. But at best, you can do the procedure in only 15 minutes.
Is It Safe to Change Your Own Tires?
Yes, it’s safe to change your own tires. Although the process may be physically demanding, the steps are straightforward, and with a little practice in your garage, you’ll be adept at replacing your tires.
Can You Change a Tire Without a Jack?
You can change a tire without a jack if you have something like a shovel or gardening tool to dig the soil under your car. You can even use your hands, lug wrench or tire iron to do so.
What to Do If You Have a Flat Tire With No Spare?
Here’s what to do if you have a flat tire with no spare tire, but remember that you should consider these before running to a flat.
- Purchase roadside assistance.
- Keep a pump and other tire repair gear in your trunk.
- Buy a run-flat-tire.
Can Tires Pop from the Heat?
A tire on car can sometimes pop from heat. High temperatures build more friction between the ground and the tire, overheating them quickly and leading to tire blowouts.
Can My Tires Cause Death Wobbles?
Tires can’t cause death wobbles—even if the wheels are out of alignment or imbalanced. However, they can prompt or intensify such problems.
The time that would take you to change a tire depends on your expertise, available tools and the place in which you’re parking. But as a rule of thumb, non-professionals need 15 to 20 minutes to replace one tire.
On the other hand, in a tire repair shop, the time depends on the workload of their staff. On average, it will take them about 2.5 hours to get the job done, although they can replace each tire in less than 10 minutes.