Safely change your flat tyre
Always check your handbook for the manufacturers recommended advice for either repairing or changing your tyre. This information is provided as a general guideline. These days, new cars include a puncture repair kit, usually a sealant and compressor, instead of the traditional spare wheel. These kits are designed to just get you to the nearest tyre garage to get a replacement.
If you have a spare tyre, it’s best to familiarise yourself with the process at least once, preferably when you purchase the car. That way should a puncture occur in bad weather conditions, you can be confident in changing the tyre.
A spare tyre is not a legal requirement but if you do have a spare tyre fitted at the time of your MOT, make sure it’s roadworthy, otherwise you’ll fail your MOT and even worse if the Police notice it you’ll get a fine.
Key tips to changing your tyre
- Avoid changing wheels on the hard shoulder of a motorway or at the side of a busy road. Instead, keep well away from traffic and call for assistance.
- Avoid changing your wheel with passengers in the car. Make sure they move somewhere safe, away from the road and vehicle in case it is hit.
- Do not go under your car if it’s being raised by a jack.
- Avoid using a jack anywhere apart from the indicated jacking points. Otherwise the jack can damage the car and potentially fall off the jack when being lifted.
- Avoid changing wheels on soft, loose or uneven ground to prevent accidents.
Be prepared to change your tyre
When you purchase or hire your vehicle, it’s always important to check you have the right equipment with you to carry out the tyre change. Here’s a guide to what we’d recommend you always have with you in the vehicle.
- Spare wheel (if supplied) – with the correct tread and pumped-up
- Reflective jacket or warning sign – so other vehicles can see you clearly
- Vehicle handbook – describing where to find and position the jack
- Vehicle Jack – adequate to lift the vehicle
- Torch – in case it’s getting dark
- Wheel-nut wrench – preferably with extension bar
- Locking wheel nut adaptor (if fitted)
- Flat-edge screwdriver
- A wheel chock
- A sharp knife or cutters – in case cable ties hold the hub caps
- Hand gloves – you will get dirty and the wheel could be sharp
- A rug or anything to kneel on – the ground will be dirty too
When the time comes to remove your tyre
- Try to keep the vehicle lifted for the least possible amount of time.
- Switch the engine off but turn on your hazard lights.
- Check the handbrake is on and engage first gear (or ‘P’ if an automatic).
- Put the chock under the wheel diagonally opposite the one to you’re changing.
- Find and take-out the spare wheel.
- Place your spare wheel next to where you will be changing the flat tyre so it’s to hand.
- Remove the hub caps (if fitted) – that’s where the flat-edge screwdriver and cutters come in handy.
- Position the vehicle jack where the handbook indicates for the flat tyre to be removed. Make sure the jack sits correctly and slowly pump the jack up so it only just begins to lift the car on its springs – don’t lift the car any more just yet.
- Loosen the wheel nuts using the correct wheel wrench (and locking wheel-nut adapter if required).
- The nuts can be quite tight, especially if they were put on using a drill. To prevent injury, ensure your back is straight and maintain balance through this process. Apply downward pressure gradually. When the nut suddenly loosens, prepare yourself for a sudden jolt.
- Raise the jack up, lifting the vehicle enough so the wheel slightly clears the ground.
- Take off the wheel nuts entirely but hold the wheel in place to prevent it coming off prematurely.
Fit the spare wheel
Follow the above removal sequence but in reverse order. Make sure you start fixing the wheel on with the first wheel nut at the top, using your hand first to get them all in position. Before tightening them fully, make sure you’ve carefully lowered the jack and vehicle back on to the road surface. Then tighten all nuts equally, taking several attempts to ensure all are secured safely.
Take the tools and flat tyre away from the road and place them securely back in your car. If you’re confident that the wheel is secure enough to drive on, then proceed to your destination – preferably straight to a garage who can replace or repair the flat tyre.
Please note that depending on the spare tyre, it could have the tread facing the wrong way or be a ‘skinny’ spare wheel (thinner than normal road tyres) which means you are limited to a set speed limit. Check your manufacturers handbook or the guidelines given on the tyres themselves. Your car may bring up alerts whilst you are using a skinny wheel, such as ABS or traction control system prompts. Again check your manufacturers handbook for further information, for your own safety.
Need some help?
If you need some help with a flat tyre or could do with some replacements we’re happy to help if you are near Bath or Bristol. We can get you back up and running in no time, even providing a courtesy car whilst yours is being repaired! Feel free to give us a call and we’ll happily advise.