It can be difficult to say exactly when you might experience your first flat tire on your tiny house, but it will happen eventually. Being prepared for when that happens can be the difference between being stuck in the middle of nowhere with an immobile house on wheels, and fixing the problem in just a matter of minutes.
So how do you change a flat tire on a tiny house? You begin by jacking up the tiny house trailer. The easiest way to do this is with a Rapid Jack, by driving your good wheel over the jack, thus suspending your flat tire, giving you easy access to change it.
What to do When You Have a Flat Tire on Your Tiny House
Maybe you drove over a big nail or sharp rock in the road, maybe your tires just got old, or maybe it’s been a year since you last drove your house and the tires gave out immediately. Whatever the reason, you’re now stuck with a dilemma: a flat tire on your tiny house. You have two options: call the nearest repair shop, or change the tire yourself.
Calling a Repair Shop
If you aren’t entirely confident in your ability and tools to change the tire house, there is nothing wrong with seeking help from professionals. After all, just because you’re a tiny house homeowner doesn’t mean you have every skill necessary to keep it maintained.
Before you tow your house to the closest repair shop, remember the following:
- Call in advance: While bigger repair shops will be able to deal with whatever problem that might come their way, smaller, local repair shops aren’t always so well-equipped. Tiny homes are a special case, so you want to make sure that the repair shop you’re headed to has the necessary equipment to work on it, such as a jack that can lift the heavy load.
- Provide your details: You don’t want to leave your mechanic hanging over the phone. While on call, provide all the relevant details that they might need to know – your tiny house’s dimensions and weight, so they can properly prepare for your arrival.
- Keep it slow and steady: While a flat tire might still be able to spin, you don’t want to put any more pressure on it than it already has to handle. Stay cautious, slow, and careful as you drive to the repair shop.
While a repair shop is the easy answer, we know that it’s not always a realistic answer. There are times when you just aren’t close enough to any repair shop, so driving to one on a flat tire might be impossible. You might also just want to be more self-sufficient, and learn how to change your tiny home’s flat trailer tires yourself.
Here’s how you do it.
Changing It Yourself
What you will need to change your flat trailer tires or tire (you don’t necessarily require all the items listed below, but having them around will make your experience much simpler):
- Anderson Rapid Jack
- 2x2 wooden boards
- Wheel chock
- Extra jacks (scissor jack, tongue jack, hydraulic SUV jack)
- Spare tires
The first thing is jack the trailer up. This is a trickier set-up than jacking up a regular vehicle, since a fully-loaded tiny home on a trailer will have much more weight that a jack needs to deal with.
The easiest way to do this is with an Anderson Rapid Jack. The Rapid Jack is a small item with an inner curvature that you can drive one wheel up on, thus raising your trailer tire and the rest of the trailer while the flat tire stays on the ground. You can see a demonstration below:
If you do not have a Rapid Jack on-hand, then another option you can consider is building your own platform out of 2x2s. You nail a couple of boards together, creating a small ramp, and like with the Rapid Jack, drive your good wheel over the platform, lifting the trailer and leaving the flat tire on the ground. After the lift, you can now loosen the lug nuts and take out your spare tire.
If you need to lift your trailer higher, you can combine the Rapid Jack and the 2x2 platform, giving your jack additional height, like so:
When jacking up your tiny house trailer, whether with a Rapid Jack, your own wooden platform, or a combination of both, follow the following steps:
|Step #1. While the flat tire is still on the ground and before placing the Rapid Jack down, loosen your flat tire’s lug nuts.|
|Step #2. Set the Rapid Jack or platform down in front of the good wheel, slightly tucked under it.|
|Step #3. Slowly drive the trailer over the Rapid Jack or the platform to lift it. If another person is around, ask them to stay outside and keep an eye on it so you don’t go over.|
|Step #4. Drive over the Rapid Jack or the platform until the flat tire is slightly suspended.|
|Step #5. If available, take out your other jacks (tongue jack, scissor jacks) and adjust them beneath the trailer for additional stability.|
|Step #6. For extra stability, wedge a single or a pair of wheel chock blocks underneath the skinny end of the Rapid Jack; these blocks will keep the Rapid Jack firmly in place.|
If you have other jacks such as a scissor jack on board, you might be tempted to simply lift your tiny house trailer with the scissor jack.
DO NOT attempt to do this. Doing so can destroy your jack and damage your trailer, as scissor jacks should only be used for support when dealing with this much weight. The best jack for a tiny house is a hydraulic SUV jack, as we mention in another article.
After your house has been successfully jacked up, you should now change the tire. Thankfully, changing a tiny house trailer tire isn’t very different from changing the flat tire on a car.
- Check that you loosened the lug nuts from before jacking the trailer up. If you didn’t, then loosen them now
- The flat tire should be off the ground, just about hovering above it
- Carefully remove the flat tire, set the lug nuts out safely, and replace the flat with the spare tire. Check your spare tire to make sure it’s in perfect condition, as some spare tires can deteriorate or become damaged in storage. You want to be slow during this process to avoid possibly disturbing the partially suspended trailer as you replace it with the spare tire
- Place the lug nuts back over the tire and tighten. Wiggle and spin the wheel every so often as you tighten the lug nuts. Trailers often have tricky lug situations so you will want to be sure
- Remove the auxiliary jacks and wheel chock and drive the trailer off the Rapid Jack; store the flat tire away
- Follow the lug nut pattern below as you tighten the lugs again to their recommended lug torque for trailers:
Congratulations – you managed to lift your trailer and change the flat tire on your tiny house. You will want to be extra safe by adjusting the torque of your lug nuts every few miles for the next few days, just to make sure that your tires are in the exact trailer tightness.
Tiny House Tire Maintenance: Tips and Considerations
Now that you know how to change a flat tire on a tiny house, you will want to keep your tires as healthy as possible to avoid having to unexpectedly change them in the first place.
The first question you must answer is how often you plan on moving your tiny trailer on tires, or whether you’re ever going to move it after parking it at all. Some tiny house homeowners are happy to settle down with their tiny house in a single place, while others find themselves on the road every few weeks, driving to a new place to call home.
For tiny houses that move often, it’s best to keep your trailer on the lighter side; the heavier your load, the more weight your trailer and ultimately your tires will have to deal with on those long drives. Tiny houses that park for extended periods can feel free to stay as heavy as they want.
Tire lifespans also naturally last only about 3-4 years, with a tire losing roughly a third of its durability every year. The most important factor determining a tire’s longevity is its rubber integrity, and keeping them stuck in place for a long time is the easiest way to wear this integrity out.
If you are the type who will keep your house parked for long periods of time (several months or years at a time), you will need to take extra steps to maintain your tires. These steps include:
1) Protect Tires from the Sun
As mentioned above, it’s crucial that you protect your tire’s rubber integrity. Aside from driving, trailer tire decomposition is mostly caused by the sun’s UV rays. Oxidation and UV rays lead to synthetic rubber or neoprene decomposition. This means that if you try to drive your tiny house after leaving it parked for a few months, you risk experiencing a tire blowout shortly into your trip.
One way to avoid this is by protecting your tires from the sun. Some tiny house homeowners build their own homemade solution, using a few panels of wood to keep the tire shaded during the day, like so:
If you want something that provides more certainty, you can purchase wheel covers at your local hardware store or car shop. These are covers that wrap around the outside exposed part of your tires, keeping them protected from those long days in the sun.
2) Roll the Wheels (For Long-Term Parking)
It’s important to roll your wheels every now and then on homes that stay parked. The long-term pressure and stress of the trailer’s weight on one side of the wheel is the easiest way to give yourself a tire blowout from tire pressure, as the rubber integrity of your wheels will become uneven and flat.
To do this, you will need to do two steps: slightly deflate your wheels, and jack up the trailer. You don’t want to make your tire flat, and the wheels don’t need to be suspended off the ground; you just need to deflate them enough to loosen the friction between the wheel and the ground so you can spin the wheel to the other side, putting the weight on the opposite side.
You will want to do this for every wheel, and try to roll them to another side every few weeks.
3) Remove the Wheels and Jack Up the Trailer
If you really plan on keeping your tiny home parked for a long time, then why not consider removing the wheels entirely? This not only keeps your wheels in good condition while they’re stored, but it also removes the small possibility of having your trailer stolen while you’re not around.
For long-term support, you will want to use our recommended hydraulic SUV jack, as we discussed in a previous article. These jacks will provide all the level stability and lift support your tiny home will need, allowing your tires, springs, and the rest of your trailer to rest without worry.
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Hey, there! We're Ivan and Manuela from Croatia, and we're crazy about tiny houses. We don't own one (yet).
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