How to change a flat tyre

At one point or another in your driver career, you are bound to end up with a flat tyre. It’s an irritating fact of life, and knowing how to change a tyre yourself can be a pretty handy tool.

Of course, you can contact breakdown help, but if you fancy giving it a go yourself, follow our handy guide below to ensure you do it safely. We do more than just help you sell your car you know!

First things first…

  • Don’t change your wheel on the hard shoulder of a motorway or on the side of a road, for your personal safety. If possible, exit the motorway or pull well away from the traffic.

  • Don’t change the tyre with people still inside the vehicle. This sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised… Move everyone inside well away from the road and vehicle.

  • Don’t change your tyre on uneven or soft ground.

  • Don’t use the jack anywhere other than the correct jacking points, which you will find listed in your handbook. Attaching your jack in the wrong place can cause damage to your vehicle, and could cause it to collapse.

  • Don’t perform any other work under your vehicle while it is raised on a jack.

What you will need

You will need a few bits and pieces before you change your tyre, but these items are always useful to have in your car anyway!

  • Your handbook, which will show you where to attach your jack.

  • Your spare wheel – you’d be pretty stuck without it! Make sure it has good enough tread and it is properly inflated.

  • Your vehicle jack.

  • At least one wheel chock. A chock is something used to stop your car from rolling when it is up on the jack.

  • A wheel wrench with locking wheel-nut adaptor and extension bar.

  • An old towel or car mat to kneel on, as the ground will be dirty.

  • Gloves – your tyre will almost definitely be dirty as well.

  • A torch.

  • Hi-vis jacket or vest.

  • A good, strong pair of shoes. Changing a tyre in sandals is not a good option for anyone!

  • Scissors for removing any cable ties which may be holding your hubcaps in place.

Before raising your vehicle

Before you start raising your car to change the tyre, assess the situation fully and have a plan in place. The longer your car is raised, the increased likelihood of it falling from the jack, so you don’t want it raised for any longer than it has to be.

  • Turn off your engine and switch on your hazard lights. Apply the handbrake and put it into first, or P if you are driving an automatic.

  • Place your chock under the wheel diagonally opposite the one you are going to replace.

  • Remove your spare tyre from its carrier, and lay it flat on the ground in a spot that will be convenient for fitting.

  • Remove your hubcap if fitted. This is where you may have to cut cable ties if they are present.

  • Fit your jack in the lifting point closest to the wheel you are changing. Make sure it engages properly as shown in your handbook, and extend the jack until it starts to lift the vehicle on its springs, but not any further just yet.

  • Loosen the wheel-nuts using the wheel wrench and locking wheel-nut adapter if needed. Check the wheel-nuts first for protective covers and remove these if they are present.

  • Evenly distribute your weight on both feet and keep a straight back. Apply some effort in a controlled, downwards manner so when the nut starts to ‘give’ so you don’t lose your balance.

Raising the vehicle

  • Now is the time to lift the vehicle. Raise the jack until the wheel is just off the ground.

  • Remove the loose wheel nuts while you keep the wheel in position with either your knee or foot.

  • Leave the top nut until last, so you are able to use both hands to remove the tyre from the hub.

Fitting the spare

Now you have removed the flat tyre, it is time to fit the spare one. You’re basically following the removal method in reverse.

  • Place the wheel onto the hub and secure it by loosely refitting the top wheel-nut first.

  • Tighten the remaining wheel-nuts by hand in stages and in a diagonal sequence.

  • Do not oil the wheel-nuts before you refit them, as they will make them more likely to work loose over time.

  • Lower the jack carefully until the wheel just touches the ground and won’t turn.

  • Now, fully tighten the wheel-nuts with the wrench, continuing to follow the diagonal sequence.

  • Put the damaged wheel back in the boot well or the carrier – don’t leave it behind!

Make sure you remember

If your spare wheel is a ‘skinny’ spare, make sure you check if there are any restrictions on using it. Usually, you can only travel up to 50mph on a skinny tyre, and you’ll need to replace it with a normal tyre as soon as possible.

You might see some dashboard lights come on as systems such as traction control, ABS and some automatic gearboxes don’t like odd tyre sizes.

Once you are back on the road again, your first port of call should be to get to a garage. Once there, replace or repair the damaged tyre, get your wheel-nuts properly tightened and have the pressure in the spare tyre checked to ensure it is up to scratch for the next time it is needed.