How Long Does It Take to Change Tires?

The modern automobile has changed the landscape and given us the most convenient means of transportation. However, in the past, drivers needed to be versed with cars, as back then, they were not very reliable, and service shops were not as widespread.

Today, though, cars don't break down as often, meaning the driver doesn't need to carry out repairs on the road. Still, some things are essential, like refilling your car with oil, brake fluid, or engine coolant, and of course, changing a tire.

Here, I'll dive deep into everything you need to change tires, but not just one – all four of them. With labor prices on the rise, many people decide to take change tires at home. It is, fortunately, a simple process once you learn how to do it, but still, one that involves many crucial steps to be done correctly and safely.

But how long does it take to change tires? It is a question people often ask me because, let's face it, nobody would want to spend hours of their free time on anything today, especially considering the tight schedules we all have.

To answer that question, I prepared an in-depth article, where I will tell you everything there is to know about changing tires and also give you my estimates on how long it should take. Please note that the duration depends greatly on the mechanic and tools involved, so take them with a grain of salt.

So, without further ado, let's initiate the stopwatch and see how long it really takes to change tires on a car!

How long does it take to change tires?

How long does it take to change tires?

Understanding the Tire-Changing Process

Changing a tire is a routine part of car maintenance and a process that every driver should know in order to be safer on the road. However, although in the past male and female drivers were versed in the process, today, it's almost a forgotten practice by many.

With the advent of tire sealants and run-flat tires, the need to know how to change a tire is smaller than ever before. Still, most cars rolling on the roads today still come with spare tires – either a full-size or a donut.

So, knowing how to change a punctured tire with a healthy one is still crucial for most drivers. Not to mention, knowing how to change tires can be helpful if you use two sets (summer and winter).

Whether you're looking to swap your summer tires for winter ones, replace worn-out tires with new ones, or fix a flat tire, understanding the process of tire changing is key to performing it efficiently and safely. It requires the correct tools, knowledge of your vehicle, and a basic understanding of mechanical principles.

Let's have a closer look.

1. Necessary Tools for Changing Tires

Necessary tools to change tires

Necessary tools to change tires

Changing a tire requires a certain set of tools, all of which should be included in the trunk of your vehicle (if it comes with a spare). If you lose or break some of those tools, it is critical that you buy a new one immediately unless you want to be stranded on the road when one of the tires is punctured.

With that said, here is every tool you need to successfully change a tire.

  • Lug wrench: this is an essential tool that you will use to loosen and tighten the lug nuts on the wheel assembly. Lug wrenches come in different designs, but the most common one has extendable handles for easier operation and added leverage in case a lug nut is stuck.
  • Car jack: you can't remove a wheel from your vehicle without lifting it up first. For that, you will need a car jack. Most cars come equipped with scissor jacks because they are compact and can carry quite a lot of weight. However, if you have a garage, I highly recommend using a floor jack, as it's much more convenient to work with and way faster. Whichever jack you choose, it should have a weight capacity that can safely support the vehicle's weight.
  • Safety equipment: wearing safety glasses will ensure that no dirt, grime, or sharp objects enter your eyes. Meanwhile, a pair of safety gloves will keep your hands clean and safe from potential cutting.
  • Jack stands: although many people skip jack stands, they are essential safety tools. You will probably be okay not using jack stands if you only change one tire (when on the road), but if you want to change all four tires at the same time, jack stands a must. The jack stands will carry the whole weight of the vehicle instead of the jack, providing an extra layer of security for the operator.
  • Optional – wheel chocks: much like jack stands, the wheel chocks provide an extra layer of security to the tire-changing process. These items can be placed behind the wheels to prevent the car from moving when it's lifted on the jack.
  • Optional – torque wrench: if you own a garage and want to do an extraordinary job whenever you tighten any nut, I highly recommend investing in a good torque wrench. This tool allows for the precise tightening of the lug nuts, ensuring they're secured to the manufacturer's specifications and not overtightened. As a result, they will be locked safely into place, and the thread won't be damaged.

While the tools mentioned above will let you change a tire like a pro, they won't protect you from other vehicles if you need to do the job while on the road. Notably, you should always put a reflective triangle at around 200 ft (60 meters) behind your car and wear a reflective vest. Also, a flashlight might be necessary to carry out the task at night, though your smartphone's flashlight will also get the job done.

2. What Does Changing Tires Involve?

Changing a tire is a process that involves several steps, each one crucial to get the job done. Skipping one of these steps is a no-go, as it could make your vehicle unsafe to drive. Here is a full rundown of all steps included:

Step 1. Make sure you have all the necessary tools: there is no point in trying to change a tire if you don't have a lug wrench, for example.

Step 2.Prepare your car for a tire change: put your transmission in Park (automatic transmission) or in gear (manual transmission). Then, engage the parking brake. By doing this, you will ensure that your vehicle is going nowhere in case the jack or jack stands fail. Also, it helps for an easier removal of the lug nuts.

Engage the parking brake

Engage the parking brake

Step 3.Loosening the lug nuts: before you attempt to lift your vehicle, it is crucial to first loosen the lug nuts. It's a mistake many people make, only then to learn that loosening the nuts is pretty hard to do on a loose wheel.

Loosening the lug nuts

Loosening the lug nuts

Loosening the nuts while the vehicle is still on the ground will give you leverage, even when the lug nuts are stuck. A lug wrench is typically used for this purpose, and a torque wrench is not necessary.

Step 4.Lifting the car: use a car jack to lift your car so you can remove the wheel. It's critical to refer to the vehicle owner's manual to determine the proper jacking points to prevent damage to the vehicle. If necessary, put jack stands on the jacking points.

Lifting the car

Lifting the car

Step 5.Removing the lug nuts and the tire: once you lift your vehicle, you can continue removing the lug nuts either using the wrench or your hands. Make sure you put the lug nuts in a safe container so you don't lose them. Then, remove the wheel and place it in a safe place.

Removing the lug nuts and the tire

Removing the lug nuts and the tire

Step 6.Mounting the new tire: place the new wheel/tire on the wheel assembly.

Mounting the new tire

Mounting the new tire

Step 7.Reattaching the lug nuts: start tightening the lug nuts with your hands while the vehicle is still elevated, but don't tighten them fully. This will ensure the wheel stays in place when you lower the vehicle and allow you to tighten the lug nuts well once the car is on the ground.

Reattaching the lug nuts

Reattaching the lug nuts

Step 8.Lowering the vehicle and tightening the lug nuts: slowly lower the vehicle, making sure that there are no items beneath it.

Lowering the vehicle

Lowering the vehicle

Then, ensure the lug nuts are fully tightened in a star or criss-cross pattern to ensure even pressure.

Tightening the lug nuts

Tightening the lug nuts

Time Frame for Changing Tires

The duration of the tire changing process varies significantly based on the tools you have, your proficiency with automotive repairs, the vehicle type, and whether one of the lug nuts is stuck.

However, keep in mind that these estimations are valid only if you change the existing wheels and tires with another set of wheels and tires. Replacing the tires on the wheels is a much more arduous process that requires specific tools and knowledge and necessitates tire balancing afterward. Hence, if you don't have a fully-equipped garage, you should leave this to a professional.

1. Factors That Affect the Duration of Tire Change

You can change tires more quickly (or slowly) than the estimated, but it greatly depends on the factors listed below:

  • Skill level: experienced DIYers and professional technicians are much faster at doing their job than the average person. In fact, with the right tools, a professional mechanic can replace all four wheels (with the tires attached to the second set of wheels) in about 15 minutes. This doesn't mean you should hurry the job because doing so can have significant safety implications.
  • Available tools: there is no doubt that having professional tools at your disposal can speed up things significantly. For instance, a hydraulic car lift can raise your whole vehicle in just a minute, leaving all four wheels ready for removal. As for hand-powered tools, floor jacks are significantly faster than scissor jacks or bottle jacks.

Also, powered impact wrenches can remove/tighten lug nuts in a matter of seconds, which can also significantly accelerate the process. Those tools require quite a lot of space and a well-equipped garage, though, so only invest in them if you are a seasoned DIYer or a professional technician.

  • Type of vehicle: the make and model of the vehicle can affect the time taken to change tires. For instance, larger vehicles such as SUVs and trucks may have larger and heavier tires and wheels, which can take longer to handle.

Moreover, these vehicles also have more lug nuts that need to be removed, and you will also need to lift them much higher, meaning more twisting/pumping on the jack.

  • Condition of the wheel assembly and lug nuts: professional mechanics go nuts over rusted and stuck wheel assembly/lug nuts because they can bring the tire change process to a halt.

Whenever you have such an issue, you might need more leverage on the torque wrench, or you can spray some WD40 on the lug nuts and wait for 10-15 minutes for the solution to do its magic.

2. Average Time Taken to Change a Single Tire

Under normal conditions, and assuming all the tools are readily available and the person changing the tire is reasonably proficient, it typically takes about 15 to 30 minutes to change a single tire. This involves jacking up the vehicle, removing the old tire, mounting the new one, and securing it with lug nuts. Thus, replacing all four wheels should take no more than 2 hours.

3. Estimating the Total Duration for a Complete Tire Change

When changing all four tires, you should consider the cumulative time it takes to change a single tire and multiply it by four.

However, it's important to remember that there could be efficiencies gained when doing them all at once – such as only needing to gather tools and prep the workspace once or getting faster with each subsequent tire as you become more familiar with the process.

Therefore, changing all four tires could take anywhere from one to two hours, assuming there are no significant issues or complications.

DIY Tire Change: How Long Does It Take?

DIY Tire Change

DIY Tire Change

While professional services can expedite the process, many drivers opt for a do-it-yourself (DIY) tire change due to the cost-effectiveness or out of sheer necessity during roadside emergencies.

The good news is that changing a tire isn't challenging and can be done even by novice DIYers. Of course, you will need the right tools and a safe environment to carry out the job.

Having said that, the time frame for a DIY tire change can range from 30 minutes to an hour per tire, depending on your proficiency and experience.

1. Steps to Change Tires at Home

Since I already mentioned what are the steps needed to change a tire, here I will only give you the steps necessary to carry out the job at home. The bits of advice I give here are to change all four tires!

For starters, you will need a completely flat surface. Any incline/decline can destabilize your car while it lies on the jack stands, which can be hazardous.

Then, it is crucial to use two jack stands per side placed at the jacking points of your vehicle. So, overall, you will need four jack stands to keep your car safe in the air.

Lastly, categorizing the tools can significantly accelerate the process. This is something that professional mechanics learn the hard way, yet it's a crucial thing when you work on any machine.

2. Common Issues and How They Impact the Process

When changing tires, you may encounter some challenges that can significantly extend the duration of the process. These include:

  • Stuck or stripped lug nuts: over time, lug nuts can become rusted or fused to the stud. Stripped lug nuts can also make removal difficult. Penetrating oil (like a WD40) or a breaker bar (for added leverage) can help in these situations. In some situations, though, you might need to bring your vehicle to a service shop, especially if you haven't removed the wheel for long periods.
  • Unforeseen damage: occasionally, changing a tire may reveal other issues like damaged wheel studs or a rusted wheel hub. I highly recommend addressing these issues before mounting the new tire, as on-time repairs are crucial for safety. Moreover, the issue can spread, and the next time you need to remove the tire, the repairs might be much more expensive!
  • Incorrect equipment: always use jacks that can carry the whole weight of your vehicle, or you risk complicating the process, damaging your car, and even hurting yourself.
  • Forgetting some steps: whenever you change tires on your car, it is crucial to follow each step and never skip anything. Doing that is not only unsafe, but it means it will take longer to change the tires, as you will need to return a few steps and redo them all over again.

Professional Tire Change: Speed and Efficiency

You should go to a shop to rotate the tires

Professional technicians will replace all four tires in 15 to 30 minutes

If you wonder whether it will take less time to change tires at a tire service center, it means you don't have the required tools and knowledge. And, yes, it will take much less time.

These services are equipped with advanced tools and machines that streamline the tire-changing process significantly. The technicians in these settings are highly trained and experienced, allowing them to perform tire changes quickly and safely.

On average, professional technicians will replace all four tires in 15 to 30 minutes, provided the other set is the wheels plus the tires. Even if you only have the tires, it should take a professional technician no more than an hour to remove the wheels, remove the tires from the wheels, then attach the new tires and wheels on the car. As a matter of fact, I highly recommend changing tires at a professional service center if you don't also have a second set of wheels.

1. Advantages of Professional Tire Change

Going to a tire service center has other advantages that go beyond saving time. For starters, it is much more convenient for amateur DIYers, as the only thing you need to do is bring your vehicle there, and the expert employees will take care of the rest. In the meantime, you can have a (usually free) beverage and read a free magazine or scroll on your smartphone.

But another big advantage is the certified professional technicians that are trained to handle a variety of tire types and car models. They can quickly identify and address potential issues that may not be evident to an untrained eye. Moreover, they will always do the job adequately, without any future safety issues.

Furthermore, the technician can also balance the tires, which is a crucial safety step. Also, most of these service centers offer wheel alignment, which will ensure that your tires wear evenly and your vehicle drives safely.

Still, the biggest advantage of a professional tire change is the tools these service centers have at their disposal. From huge hydraulic lifts to powerful impact wrenches, these shops have everything they need to carry out a tire change securely and with quality.

2. Time Considerations with Professional Services

While professional services are undeniably faster, it's essential to account for the time it takes to get to the service station and potentially wait if they're busy. Therefore, I highly recommend calling the service center beforehand to schedule an appointment. By doing this, you will ensure that there is no wait time, i.e., that you will be served before other customers.

Most tire service centers even have web-based appointment services, where you can book an appointment with only a few taps on your smartphone. Doing this might be faster than calling the shop since the call center might be busy. Also, you can do it out of working hours.

Tips to Speed Up the Tire Changing Process

Whether you're changing your tires at home or relying on a professional service, a few strategies can help speed up the process without sacrificing safety or quality.

1. Proper Preparation to Save Time

Preparation is key when it comes to efficient tire changing. If you're doing it yourself, ensure that you have all the necessary tools readily available before you start. This includes the spare tire, a jack, a lug wrench, wheel chocks, and a torque wrench.

However, if you don't trust your mechanical knowledge and want to bring the vehicle to a service center, make sure to book an appointment. Also, ensure your spare tires are in your vehicle or arrange delivery to the service station before your appointment.

For both DIY and professional tire changing, make sure that the tires are ready to be installed, i.e., they are properly inflated and have no visible cuts or bulges.

2. Safety Measures to Avoid Delays

Although I mentioned some of these safety measures in the article, having them in one place will help you follow all steps better. So, before starting, ensure that your vehicle is on a flat, stable surface and that the parking brake is engaged. Use wheel chocks to prevent the car from moving.

Use wheel chocks

Use wheel chocks

Furthermore, always remember to loosen the lug nuts before lifting the car with the jack. Lifting the vehicle first can cause instability when you're trying to loosen tight lug nuts and might be hazardous. Not to mention it will add significant time to the process, as loosening very tight lug nuts on a lifted car is next to impossible.

I would also recommend being careful when tightening the lug nuts and making sure you use a star pattern (five nuts) or a criss-cross pattern (four nuts). By doing this, you will ensure the wheel is tightened properly, and no damage occurs, which might add repair time down the line.

Lastly, never rush the process, as it might lead to forgetting some of the steps. Skipping any of the steps involved means you will need to redo the tire-changing job all over again, which adds significant time.


All the tips I gave you to speed up the process when changing tires might seem counterintuitive. However, changing a tire is like the story of the rabbit and the turtle – rushing the process will prove to be slower.

I had quite a lot of friends that didn't listen to me on various repairs in the past, only to later spend hours on what is a simple tire change job. One of my closest friends, for instance, almost never loosens the lug nuts, only to have issues loosening them at all once he lifted the car.

Not to mention that most of my friends never have their tools ready, needing to spend additional time scouring their garage for the right tools mid-way through the tire change. Don't be one of those people! Tire changing, whether done at home or professionally, is a process that requires careful attention and appropriate preparation.

As for whether you should change all four tires yourself, it is entirely a personal decision. In my eyes, it is less convenient for most people since it requires certain knowledge and tools, but there is no question it can save you some cash. For instance, at a professional tire service center, it might cost you between $15 to $45 per tire or between $60 to $180 for all four tires.

When you change your own tires, you essentially keep that money. However, keep in mind the cost of your own time, the upfront investment in the necessary tools (if you don't already have them), and the potential for mishaps. Thus, it is essential to weigh these factors against the convenience and expertise offered by professional services!

And remember, no matter which path you choose (professional or DIY), preparation and safety should always be at the forefront!

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