Knowing how to change a flat tyre is an essential skill for all drivers.
While there are efficient roadside assistance services available these days, you may not always be able to make use of them in every situation. Flat tyres tend to happen at the most poorly timed moments. It could happen on your way to a wedding or job interview where you may not have the time to wait for roadside assistance to turn up. If you’re driving in the country with no phone reception and no civilisation for miles, knowing how to change a tyre could literally save your life.
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We’re going to run through all the steps involved in changing a flat tyre, from preparation and safety to implementation and eventual success. Let’s get started!
Flat tyre equipment checklist
If some of these items aren’t already living in your car, it’s time to go shopping. Flat tyres can strike at any moment, so don’t put it off any longer. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Spare tyre
- Tyre wrench
- Car owner’s manual
- Good quality torch
- Wheel chocks
The first four items should have been included when you purchased your car, however, it’s best to check that they’re all still there, especially if you didn’t buy your car new.
Always be prepared
Buying the right equipment isn’t the only way you can prepare. Try the following tips:
- It’s a good idea to check the spare tyre pressure every now and then to ensure it doesn’t go flat.
- Complete a practice run so you know exactly what you’re doing next time you get a flat tyre.
- Make sure your tools are in good condition and give them a check once a year.
- Print out this article and keep it in your car. Remember that you might not have phone reception when you get stuck.
Finding a safe place to change your tyre
- Once you realise you have a flat tyre, don’t stop immediately. It’s important to find a suitable place to park so you can finish the job safely.
- Try to park on flat ground and make sure you’re well out of the way of moving vehicles.
- Avoid parking on a bend, as it will be more difficult for other vehicles to spot you.
- Remember to use your handbrake when parking.
- Always turn on your hazard lights so other drivers can see you.
- Make sure no passengers are in the car once you’re parked and ready to change the tyre.
Step-by-step instructions for how to change a flat tyre
- Gather all of your tyre-changing equipment, including your owner’s manual, with instructions for changing a tyre.
- Put your wheel chokes in place to help keep your car from rolling. If you’re changing a rear tyre, the chokes should be placed in front of your front tyres. If changing a front tyre, they should be placed behind the rear tyres. If you don’t have proper chokes, a heavy rock will work if you can find one.
- If your hubcap is covering the wheel nuts, remove it before you lift the vehicle. You can do this by prying it off with the flat end of the tyre wrench. If your wheel nuts are already accessible, don’t worry about this step.
- Using the tyre wrench and in a counter clockwise direction, loosen, but do not remove, the wheel nuts. These are usually on tight, so you might have to put your body weight behind it or use your foot.
- Place the jack under the frame of your car, alongside the flat tyre. Your owner manual should also provide further details about positioning of the jack for your particular car model.
- Raise the car high enough to ensure the tyre is off the ground, ensuring that you don’t put any part of your body underneath it.
- Completely unscrew and remove the wheel nuts. Put them aside safely – you’ll need them for securing the spare tyre.
- Remove the tyre by pulling it towards you.
- Mount the spare tyre, allowing access to re-install the wheel nuts.
- Screw the wheel nuts on until seated remembering to turn clockwise (using the tyre wrench).
- Lower the vehicle and remove the jack.
- Tighten the wheel nuts as hard as you can with the tyre wrench.
- Replace the hubcap if you have one.
- Drive to a petrol station straight away to check the pressure in the spare tyre and make sure it’s safe to drive on.
- Make sure you have your flat tyre repaired or replaced as soon as possible.