Experiencing a flat tire in your Jeep Wrangler is an inevitable inconvenience. However, knowing how to change it is a valuable skill that can keep you on the move. In this guide, let me take you through the step-by-step process of changing a Jeep Wrangler tire — ensuring you can confidently tackle this common mishap.
Here are the steps on how to change a Jeep Wrangler tire:
- Find a Safe Spot.
- Gather Your Tools.
- Loosen Lug Nuts.
- Position Wheel Chocks.
- Use the Jack.
- Take Off the Flat Tire.
- Install the Spare Tire.
- Reinstall the Lug Nuts.
- Lower Your Jeep and Finish Tightening.
- Clean Up.
Changing a Jeep Wrangler tire is straightforward if you follow these ten steps carefully. However, remember to consult your owner’s manual for precise instructions. It’s advisable to familiarize yourself with the process in advance (preferably in a secure environment) to ensure you’re well-prepared for any unexpected tire changes. Most importantly, promptly address the repair or replacement of the flat tire once you detect the issue.
How to Change a Jeep Wrangler Tire
1. Find a Safe Spot.
First and foremost, ensure you’re parked in a safe location, away from traffic, and on a level surface. Engage the parking brake and turn on your hazard lights for added safety. Also, avoid areas with icy or slippery conditions if you can.
2. Gather Your Tools.
Check your Jeep Wrangler’s toolkit or ensure you have the necessary tools. A spare tire, scissor-type or hydraulic jack (view on Amazon), lug wrench, socket set, gloves, flashlight, and wheel chocks should be part of your staples. Advisably, you should inspect the completeness of your tools ahead of time, as some instances may require a kneeling pad or jack handle extensions.
The presence of a tire-changing tool kit in the load floor of your vehicle would vary depending on the trim level and year of your Jeep Wrangler. Generally, many models come equipped with a basic tool kit for changing a spare tire. If your Wrangler happens to have one, you’ll need to perform additional steps.
In the cargo area, lift the load floor. If needed, however, you can remove the load floor by pulling it directly rearward. Doing this allows for easier access — either to the available tire-changing equipment or the jack inside the storage bin of your Wrangler’s load floor.
3. Loosen Lug Nuts.
Before lifting the vehicle, slightly loosen the lug nuts on the affected tire, but don’t remove them entirely. You have the option to do this with the tire suspended mid-air. However, it’s easier with the vehicle’s weight on the tire.
4. Position Wheel Chocks.
Before jacking up your Jeep, put wheel chocks behind and in front of one of the affected tires to prevent it from rolling.
5. Use the Jack.
At this point, you can initiate the tire replacement. Start by positioning the jack beneath the frame or jacking points specified in your Jeep’s manual. After which, begin raising the vehicle, ensuring it’s high enough for the flat tire to clear the ground. You may use either the factory jack or an aftermarket jack if you don’t have the former (this may be the case for some Wranglers bought secondhand).
6. Take Off the Flat Tire.
Once your Wrangler is lifted, you can fully remove the lug nuts you loosened earlier by turning them counterclockwise using the lug wrench. Set the lug nuts aside where they’re safe, and make sure not to misplace them. After which, carefully slide the affected tire off the wheel studs and set it aside.
7. Install the Spare Tire.
Before replacing your flat tire with your spare, first remove the spare tire from its carrier at the rear of your vehicle. You’d also need to remove the spare tire cover first (if it has one). Recent-year Wrangler models typically have toolkits that come with instructions on how to remove the spare tire alongside other Jeep parts. These OEM-provided instructions include the removal of the rear camera, too.
A ratchet and corresponding bit are provided in the tool kit that works with the lock and lug nut securing the spare tire. Use the ratchet to remove the center lock (it should slide off easily once loosened). Once that part is removed, you’ll have access to the lug nut actually holding the spare tire in place on the rear carrier.
Once you have the spare tire taken off its carrier, mount it onto the wheel studs and align the holes in the wheel with the studs. Push it into place.
8. Reinstall the Lug Nuts.
When securing the spare tire in place, always start the lug nuts by hand. This ensures proper alignment with the wheel studs and also prevents cross-threading. Once they are aligned, continue tightening them with a power tool and 7/8 socket (whichever is provided in the tool kit or specified in the owner’s manual).
In tightening the lug nuts, Jeepsters and mechanics advise doing so in a star or crisscross pattern. This specific pattern ensures even pressure while tightening and helps prevent warping the wheel. Also, make sure to tighten the lug nuts as much as you can while your vehicle is still raised.
9. Lower Your Jeep and Finish Tightening the Lug Nuts.
Once you’re satisfied with step #8, carefully lower your Wrangler back down to the ground using the jack. Then, go over the lug nuts one more time and fully tighten them in the same star/crisscross pattern (making sure not to overthread them). Some Jeep owners may find this extra. However, this step is crucial to ensure the wheel is securely attached.
10. Clean Up.
If you had to change your tire while on the road, the changing process doesn’t end for you at step #9. You have to place your flat tire on the rear carrier (reversing the procedure in step #7). If you used the factory jack of your vehicle, you also need to place it back in the storage bin or load floor of your Wrangler (reversing the procedure in step #2). Once done, you should be on your merry way to your destination.
Telltale Signs of a Compromised Tire
Several signs are associated with a compromised Jeep Wrangler tire. The most conspicuous indicators manifest visually, whether through tread wear or physical damage to the rubber itself. For a more extensive list of signs, however, you may refer to the non-exhaustive list below:
Tread Depth Below 2/32″
In many states with vehicle inspections, a minimum tread depth of 2/32″ (or 1.5 mm) is required. If your tires fall below this threshold, it’s a clear indication that you’re overdue for a tire change. Ideally, your tires should have a healthy tread depth of 6/32″ or deeper — anything shallower should prompt a tire replacement.
Tire manufacturers incorporate wear bars into their designs, running from side to side. When these bars bridge two tread blocks, it’s a strong signal that it’s time to replace your knobbies. For precise measurement, consider using a tread depth tool like the JACO TreadPro Dial-Type Tire Tread Depth Gauge (view on Amazon).
Uneven Tread Wear
Neglecting regular tire rotations can lead to ‘cupping,’ where tread blocks wear unevenly. While this unevenness doesn’t necessarily mean immediate tire replacement, it can result in worrisome vibrations while driving. That said, frequent tire rotations and proper alignment following driveline modifications or tire changes are essential to maintain even tread wear.
Tires generally have a service life of 6-10 years, regardless of type or mileage. If your tires are over a decade old, they should be replaced. Over time, tires can become dry and brittle, increasing the risk of failure while driving.
Off-road enthusiasts riding their Wranglers into the wilderness should be especially watchful for sidewall damage. Impacting rocks and rough terrain can compromise tire sidewalls. Any signs of chunked rubber, bubbling, bulges, blisters, or holes in the sidewall are serious safety concerns and necessitate immediate tire replacement.
If you experience unusual and persistent vibrations while driving, it can be a sign of an out-of-balance or damaged tire. Out-of-balance tires can typically be resolved by performing a tire balance service or redistributing weight in the vehicle. But if it occurs repeatedly, you may be better off replacing the tire (or tires) causing the vibration.
Exorbitant Road Noise
Unusual increases in road noise can provide clues about your tire condition, and specific types of noises can indicate that a tire may need replacement. Here are some road noises and what they may signify:
Tire roar or humming
Especially at highway speeds, this could indicate that the tire’s tread is worn unevenly or has become abnormally smooth. This noise also suggests that the tire is no longer providing proper traction and may need replacement.
Rhythmic thumping or thudding
This occurrence while driving could result from a tire with a flat spot, irregular tread wear, or a tire that’s out of balance. In some cases, it may indicate a more serious problem, like a separated tire cord. It’s essential to have this noise inspected promptly to determine if tire replacement is necessary.
Squealing or screeching
These sounds are often associated with brake issues, but they may also signify tire problems. If the noise occurs when the brakes aren’t engaged and is coming from the tires, it may indicate tire damage or irregular tread wear.
Hissing or whistling
These sounds coming from the tires may be due to air leaks or a puncture in the tire. If you hear such a noise, check your tire’s air pressure, as low pressure can result in these sounds.
Decreased Handling and Traction
If your Jeep’s handling feels less responsive or you notice a decrease in traction, it could be attributed to tire wear or damage.
Frequent flat tires, especially those resulting from irreparable damage like sidewall punctures or extensive tread damage, are a clear sign of the need for tire replacement. Frequent flats are not only bothersome but can also compromise your safety and increase the risk of tire failure.
Tire Change Intervals
As established earlier, the average service life of tires used on Jeep Wranglers is between 6 and 10 years. However, note that this isn’t an absolute reference since the lifespan of a tire heavily relies on its application, proper tire inflation, and the regularity of upkeep.
Regardless of the generation of your Jeep Wrangler, tires used for extreme off-roading will always warrant more frequent tire changes than those used for urban commutes. But if you want to be intentional with tire changes, reverting to the indicators in the preceding section would be a good place to start.
As to whether there’s a difference in change intervals between bias-ply and radial tires, there actually is. On average, the service life of bias-ply tires is often shorter compared to radials. The main reason is this type is of an older tire technology, having been used in older Wrangler models. The estimate for radials is 6-10 years, while bias-ply tires may last 4-6 years.
Top Jeep Wrangler Tire Brands
BF Goodrich All Terrain T/A KO2
This tire (view on Amazon) is a popular choice for Jeep Wranglers due to its exceptional off-road performance and durable construction. Its aggressive tread design provides excellent traction on various terrains, making it ideal for off-roading adventures. Additionally, it offers good on-road comfort and low noise levels, making it a versatile tire.
Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac
Well-regarded for its balance between on-road and off-road capabilities. It features a rugged tread pattern for off-roading and good traction in snow and mud. On the road, it provides a smooth and comfortable ride, making it suitable for Jeep Wrangler owners who want an all-purpose tire.
Toyo Open Country M/T or A/T III
They are known for their durability and excellent off-road performance. The M/T is particularly well-suited for extreme off-road conditions with its aggressive tread design, while the A/T III provides a comfortable and quieter on-road experience while still performing well off-road.
Nitto Ridge Grappler
It offers a unique hybrid design that combines the best of both mud-terrain and all-terrain tires. It excels in off-road situations, including in mud and on rocky trails, while providing a relatively quiet and comfortable on-road ride, making it an attractive choice for Wrangler owners.
Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T Radial
This Baja Boss (view on Amazon) is designed for off-road enthusiasts who want a versatile tire that can handle various terrain. It combines excellent off-road performance with solid on-road capabilities, making it a suitable choice for Jeep Wrangler owners who frequently switch between different driving conditions.
BFGoodrich Mud Terrain T/A KM3
The KM3 (view on Amazon) is a top pick for serious off-roaders. It provides exceptional traction in challenging off-road environments, including mud and rocky terrain. While it’s less smooth on the road than other options, its off-road performance is hard to beat.
Michelin LTX M/S2
This premium all-season tire is known for its durability and on-road comfort. It’s an excellent choice for Jeep Wrangler owners who primarily drive on highways and city streets, offering a smooth ride and good all-season performance.
Bridgestone Dueler H/T 685
The 685 is a solid choice for Jeep Wrangler owners prioritizing on-road performance. It offers good handling, stability, and a comfortable ride on highways and urban roads, making it suitable for daily driving and occasional light off-roading.
The F19 is designed for urban and highway driving, making it a good option for Jeep Wrangler owners who mainly use their vehicles for commuting and city driving. It provides a smooth and quiet ride along with good traction on paved roads.
Falken Wildpeak A/T
This tire (view on Amazon) is praised for its well-balanced performance. It offers strong off-road traction, particularly in snow and mud, while maintaining a quiet and comfortable ride on the highway. It’s an excellent choice for those who want an all-terrain tire that handles a range of conditions.
Outside these recommendations, I suggest you check my posts on Which Brand of Tires Last the Longest? and Are Walmart Tires Good Quality? (Full Review) for a well-informed decision on which brand of tires to opt for.
Conclusion — How to Change a Jeep Wrangler Tire
Knowing how to change a Jeep Wrangler tire is a fundamental skill every Jeep owner should possess. By following these steps, you can safely and efficiently replace a flat tire — keeping you on the road and ready for your next adventure. But while this guide provides a general overview of the tire-changing process, it’s always best to consult your Jeep Wrangler’s manual for model-specific details.
Kris is an avid off-roader and outdoor enthusiast who loves to brave the elements and take on challenging terrain. He also enjoys sharing his passion and knowledge with others so that they, too, can appreciate the ride.