How to Change a Tyre in Ten Easy Steps

Seeing a flat tyre as you walk up to your car can cause you to deflate too. Getting one while driving can be very frightening. Don't worry though – if you stay calm and follow our simple steps on how to change a tyre, you can stay safe and be on your way in no time.

Change your tyre

1. Find a safe place

Whether you’ve noticed your flat tyre outside your home or it’s happened on the road, the first and most important thing to do is get the car to a safe place. Avoid poorly-lit places, bends, or narrow roads, and you don’t want to be changing a tyre that’s on the road side of the car either. If you need to, cautiously drive your vehicle a short distance to find a safer place – even though there is a risk of damaging the wheel, it’s far more important to protect you, your passengers and other road users.

If you’re already in a safe place, or once you’ve found one, put on your hazard warning lights and get set up for changing the tyre.

2. Get set up

There are a few important things to do before starting to change a tyre. The first step is to put the handbrake on and get any passengers out of the car and well clear of the road. Put your warning triangle a short distance from your car to warn oncoming traffic and, if you have one, put on a reflective vest. Modern vehicles should have a warning triangle included, but these can also be bought for under £5 or in a set with a reflective vest for around £10.

Next, to stop the car from rolling when it’s jacked up, you’ll need to place a wheel chock under the opposite corner to the puncture (for example, under the front-left tyre if your puncture is on the rear-right tyre). Wheel chocks are inexpensive, wedge-shaped metal or plastic blocks but bricks, stones or short planks of wood can be used if you don’t have chocks. What important is that they will stop the car from rolling when it’s jacked up.

3. Gather your equipment

Once you’re comfortable that the car and area are safe, get everything you’ll need and place it by the tyre that needs changing. That will include:

  • The spare wheel
  • The tyre wrench (for removing the nuts)
  • The jack (to lift the car so the wheel can be removed)
  • Your vehicle’s handbook

If you have alloy wheels you’ll also need the locking nut, but it’s usually stored with the other tools or the spare wheel. If you’ve got some gloves in your kit, pop these on now to protect from dirt and grease.

4. Slacken off the wheel nuts

If you don’t have alloy wheels, you may have a plastic trim covering the wheel nuts, so you’ll have to prise that off first.
Loosen each of the wheel nuts by turning them anti-clockwise (which might be tough at first) until you can turn them using your fingers.

Important

  • Don’t jack the car up until the nuts are loosened
  • Don’t remove the wheel nuts completely yet

5. Jack the car up

This is where your vehicle’s manual comes in – it will tell you where the jacking points are. Jacking points are designated points on the underside of the car that are strengthened to take the pressure of lifting it. You’ll normally find a jacking point behind each front wheel and in front of the rear wheels. Choose the one nearest to the puncture.

Make sure that the jack is securely placed on the jacking point and that it’s vertical, not leaning. Then, slowly raise the jack until the wheel clears the ground fully. You should be able to turn the wheel a little to confirm it is free.

6. Remove the wheel

You can now fully unscrew and remove the nuts from the wheel – keep them safe so they don’t get lost. With some gentle pulling towards you, the wheel should now slide off without too much difficulty. Put it to one side for now, and keep it flat so it doesn’t roll away.

7. Fit the spare wheel

Follow these steps carefully to fit the spare wheel:

  • Slide the spare wheel into place. This is done by either sliding it onto the bolts you removed the other wheel from or by lining up the holes where the nuts will go – this will depend on the vehicle.
  • Use your hands to screw in the wheel nuts, pushing the wheel back to make sure it is firmly seated, and tighten as much as you can without using the wrench.
  • Use the jack to lower the vehicle slightly, just until the wheel makes contact with the ground. You can now tighten the nuts with the wrench without the wheel spinning.
  • Once the nuts are all fully tightened, lower the jack completely and remove it. If your wheel has a plastic trim, reattach it.

8. Pack up

Once you’ve finished the tyre change, pack your tools neatly away in the appropriate place in the boot so they’re ready for when you need them again. If you have a full-size spare wheel, the wheel with the puncture will fit into the same space. If you have a smaller, space-saver wheel, just be aware that the wheel you removed will take up more space.

9. Check the tyre is fully inflated

While sitting unused in your boot, the spare tyre may have lost some air pressure, so you’ll need to check it’s fully inflated using a tyre pressure gauge. If you have one, put it on the tyre valve and check the pressure against the figure in your manual – pressures can often be found inside the petrol filler cap or the inner sill of the driver’s door as well, so check these if it’s safe to do so.

If the pressure is low or you don’t have a pressure gauge, drive carefully to the nearest garage to make sure the tyre is inflated fully.

Once the tyre pressure is correct, you can continue on your journey. But remember: if you’re now driving on a narrow space-saver wheel, the maximum safe (and legal) speed is 50 mph, so don’t exceed that.

10. Get it fixed

The last thing you want is to have another puncture before you’ve got your spare tyre repaired or replaced, so get to a local garage as soon as you possibly can. This is even more important if you’re driving on a space-saver, as they’re only intended for short-term use.

As you can see, knowing how to change a tyre doesn’t have to be the challenge or mystery many drivers think it is. All you need is our ten easy steps and the right equipment. Speaking of equipment, it’s probably a good idea to check you have everything in place now, just to be sure it’s there when you need it.

Checking your tyre tread is essential for preventing issues and ensuring you’re still road legal. Thinking of buying a car with run flat tyres? We’ve taken a look at the pros and cons of run flat tyres in our handy car tech guide.


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