Changing a flat tyre seems to be a lost art nowadays – in fact over 60% of people wouldn’t have a clue how to change a car tyre if they had to.
Quite worrying seeing as the average motorist will suffer a puncture once every 44,000 miles or about one flat tyre every 4 years (some are unlucky enough to experience a flat wheel much more often than this!)
We personally think it should be something that is taught in schools as it’s a basic life skill that people need to know.
You may think “I’d just call my partner/dad to help me if I had a flat tyre” or “that’s why I have AA cover” but if you were in a situation where you didn’t have phone battery or signal then you could find yourself in a sticky situation.
It doesn’t hurt to learn how to change a tyre, and it could be vital for your safety and convenience at a later date.
It’s simple as long as you know what you’re doing and take the right precautions, which we will show you now in our 12 step basic guide on how to change a tyre.
What you’ll need to change a tyre
Jack (Not me, unfortunately I won’t be there to help you!)
Locking nut key
Wheel chocks, if possible, although onsite bricks and rocks can be used
Reflective jacket or vest (a few pounds from eBay)
Gloves and wet wipes
Keep your spare wheel ready to use.
It will be your worst nightmare if you have a flat or punctured tyre, go to change it and realise your spare wheel is flat, or that’s it’s old and deteriorated.
You need to check your spare tyre (and it’s pressure) every time you check your other tyre pressures. If that’s not very often, then the rule of thumb is check it every couple of months or when you do any other checks on your car (oil, fluids etc). It only takes a few seconds to check the pressure and that the rubber is in good condition and it could save you A LOT of time and money down the track when you come to need it.
Make sure you have all of the equipment you need
While you are checking your tyre, also ensure that you have the equipment listed above in the boot of your car at all times too – especially a jack and wheel wrench.
While you are there, it makes a lot of sense to throw in an old coat in case you need to change a wheel in the rain, a reflective jacket or vest, a torch, and a few latex or rubber gloves and a small pack of baby wipes to keep your hands clean…there’s nothing better than being overly prepared in these situations!
Never change a wheel on the motorway.
It’s not safe to change a wheel on the motorway – it only takes a split second for a driver to veer off track and run into the hard shoulder so always stay as far away as you can from the side of the motorway and use a mobile phone or emergency phone to call for a recovery service. They can move you to a safe place before you attempt any sort of work on your car.
Changing a tyre involves raising your car quite precariously onto a jack. It’s safe if you’re careful and sensible, referring to your car’s manual or to professional help wherever you need to. But if not, and if the jack falls over while the car is on it, it can result in damage to the car and injury to yourself.
12 Step Guide to Changing a Car Tyre:
1. Ensure the ground is flat and firm.
You should only ever try and change a wheel when the ground is flat, level and firm. You don’t want the car falling off the jack or getting stuck in soft ground.
If you have to drive a few metres forward (slowly) with the flat tyre to ensure you find the right surface then do so.
It’s much safer to ruin a tyre than have the car fall on you because the jack was unstable.
2. Put on hazard lights
Once you’ve stopped, apply your car’s hazard warning lights to warn other motorists and stand your warning triangle on the road at least 45 metres from your car if you consider that another warning is necessary.
3. Check your car’s manual
If you have the manual with you, it’s worth checking this before you do anything else – especially if it’s a car that you’re not familiar with. This will tell you where to find the jack and wheel brace, and where to position them properly on your car.
4. Loosen wheel nuts
Before you jack the car up, you need to loosen the wheel nuts or bolts. Do this when the car is on the ground because when the car is lifted, the wheel will spin and it’ll make it much harder. Find your car’s wheel wrench or locking wheel nut key, connect to each nut/bolt and turn one by one. Don’t fully remove them yet!
The wheel nuts will be very tight so you might have to use your bodyweight to help you shift them and the easiest way to do this is to angle the wrench so that you can apply steady downwards pressure with your foot.
5. Get everything you need in place
Find the car’s jack if you haven’t already and get out the spare wheel. Place them next to you because once the car is in the air it’s easier to do it in one swift process without having to disturb the car once it’s in the air (especially if it’s even the tiniest bit unstable)
6. Fit the jack
Slide the jack under the car to where the designated position is. Slowly wind the jack up, checking that it is firmly in position and can’t slip off. You can stop when the punctured wheel is 3-4 inches off the floor; you don’t need to wind it all the way up.
Make sure that you do not place any part of your body under the car at any time. A jack is only a lifting device and cannot be trusted to hold your car securely.
7. Remove the wheel nuts and the wheel
It’s now time to take the punctured wheel off the car. You can now take the wheel nuts completely off. Then slide the wheel off the hub. Be careful with this, as it’ll be heavier than you think!!
8. Fit the new wheel
Carefully lift the spare wheel into place.
If your car uses nuts, then you’ll have the studs to hang the wheel on to, but if your car has bolts you’ll need to locate the wheel centrally on the hub and hold it in place while you get a bolt in.
The job gets easier once one bolt is in place as it will help hold it up while you fit the rest.
9. Secure the wheel
Do the wheel nuts up until they are finger tight. Wiggle the wheel very gently to settle it on the hub and try to tighten the nuts up a bit more, but don’t tighten them fully just yet.
10. Lower the jack
Now carefully wind the jack down until the weight of the car is fully resting on the tyre. When it is, you can remove the jack.
11. Tighten the wheel nuts
Tighten the wheel nuts up using the wheel wrench or locking wheel nut key. Do them up as tight as you can by hand, then use your foot to push the wheel brace even further round.
12. Clean up
Put everything back in the boot and turn off your hazard lights, give your hands a wipe as they will be dirty.
Make sure you listen for any unusual sounds as your drive away. Maybe even stop after a few miles and just double check that the wheel nuts are tight and everything still looks good.
Remember that if your spare wheel is a space saver – you can usually tell if it is because it’ll be smaller and narrower than your other wheels – you won’t be able to go as fast as normal. Most space savers are limited to 50mph, but check the warning labels printed on the wheel to find out how fast you can go or look in the manual.
There you have it – in a nutshell, that’s how you can change a tyre safely and securely. It’s good to use this as a guide and maybe give it a practice run while your car is on your drive so in the unfortunate incident of a puncture or flat tyre, you’ll know what you’re doing off by heart so it should only take you 5-10 minutes.
We hope this has been helpful,
Give us a shout if you have any questions,