At some point or another, every driver is going to experience the dreaded flat tyre situation. Knowing exactly how to change a tyre is a necessary skill that every car owner should have. Sure, you could call in for some help. But what if your phone is out of power, you can’t get a signal or no one is available?
Luckily, mastering the mighty tyre change is actually much easier than you think. All you need are a few tools to hand, a spare tyre and a little guidance. Once you know how, you’ll be switching tyres like a pro and never need to call roadside assistance again.
Tools needed to change a flat tyre
Every vehicle should come with a set of tools designed to help you change a flat tyre. These typically come as standard, so before heading off on a long journey make sure that they are loaded into your car.
- Spare tyre in good condition
- Wheel nut wrench
- Car jack
- Owners manual for your vehicle
- Wheel wedges
- Torch and batteries
- Pair of gloves
If your vehicle is missing any of the above, you will want to go and purchase replacements as soon as possible. Whenever purchasing parts for your vehicle, ensure that they are compatible with the make and model you have.
Steps to changing a flat tyre
In total, it usually takes around 20 minutes to change a flat tyre. Of course, this all relies on you having the correct tools for the job and an understanding of what to do.
It’s important to remember that most spare tyres are designed for a temporary replacement. You want to reduce your speed and get your vehicle in for a proper tyre replacement as soon as possible.
Here’s our quick fix guide to changing a flat tyre for beginners.
1. Stop somewhere safe
As soon as you discover a flat tyre, find somewhere safe to pull over to replace it. Driving on a flat tyre for a few minutes may ruin your rim, but it sure beats getting hit by another vehicle mid change. Ideally, you want to find somewhere with level ground and away from oncoming traffic. Once you find somewhere appropriate, switch on your hazard lights and engage the handbrake.
2. Use your wheel wedges
These help prevent your vehicle from rolling when changing the tyre. If you don’t have wheel wedges to hand, rocks, bricks and large branches can be adequate substitutes. If the flat tyre is at the rear of the car, place wedges in front of the front tyres. If it’s at the front of the vehicle, place them behind the rear ones.
3. Remove hubcaps
If your vehicle has exposed wheel nuts, jump to the next step. If you have hubcaps covering the wheel nuts, you’ll want to remove it before lifting the vehicle with the jack. Most owners will find it easy to remove the hubcap with the flat end of the wheel nut wrench. If in doubt, refer to your owner’s manual.
4. Loosen wheel nuts
Before raising your vehicle off the ground, you’ll want to loosen the wheel nuts. You can expect to experience some pretty strong resistance and will likely need to use your body weight to get them to move. Place your foot on the wheel wrench and turn the nuts counterclockwise – but don’t completely remove them just yet. You will want them to hold the wheel in place during jacking.
5. Use the jack
Now it’s time to lift your vehicle to change the tyre. Refer to your owner’s manual to locate the cleared area on the vehicle frame designed for jack use. This will be located near each of the wheels and consists of an exposed metal part of the frame. Once properly positioned, slowly start to raise the vehicle. An ideal height is approximately 6 inches ground to wheel clearance. Keep your body clear from the underside of the vehicle when it is raised off of the ground.
6. Remove wheel nuts
Go ahead and remove the wheel nuts by hand. These should have been sufficiently loosened with the wheel nut wrench before you raised the vehicle on the jack. It’s a good idea to place each of the wheel nuts into a pocket so that you don’t lose any of them during the process.
7. Take off the flat tyre
To remove the flat tyre, simply grab it by the treads and pull it toward you. The tyre should slide off with little to no resistance. Lay it on its side next to the vehicle and pick up your spare tyre.
8. Mount the spare tyre
In the reverse order, pick up your spare tyre by its treads and line it up with the wheel bolts. Ensure that the rim is nice and even and push it on until all wheel bolts come through it. Place the wheel nuts on to the wheel bolts and tighten them by hand to hold the wheel in place during lowering.
9. Lower vehicle and tighten wheel nuts
Start to lower the vehicle to the ground, stopping before it’s entire weight is placed on the wheel. Take your wheel nut wrench and tighten each of the wheel nuts in a clockwise rotation until they are firmly secured in place. Again, use your body weight to ensure that they are as tight as possible. If the hub cap will fit on the replacement tyre, go ahead and pop it on. If not, stow it with the flat tyre and tools in the rear of the vehicle.
10. Check air pressure
If you have an air pressure gauge to hand, check all four tyres for consistency. Refer to your owner’s manual for the correct tyre pressure. If you are unable to check the pressure immediately after the change, find your nearest service station and make any required adjustments as and when needed.
How to avoid getting a flat tyre
Unfortunately, there are no foolproof ways to prevent a flat tyre. However, there are a few preventative measures you can take to help minimise the risk. These include:
- Keep tyres well inflated at all times
- Check regularly for uneven wear
- Perform regular checks on your brakes
- Carry a can of compressed air with you
- Choose a thicker, puncture-resistant tread
- Avoid construction zones littered with sharp debris
- Check tyres for nails and glass before and after long journeys
- Have your vehicle serviced regularly
Top tips for tyre maintenance
Whenever you check the air pressure of your vehicle’s tyres, make sure you inflate and check the pressure of the spare one too.
When cleaning your vehicle, give the tyres a good clean at the same time. Nails, screws and glass can become hidden under mud and grime.
Pay attention to old tyres. If one or more deflates faster than the rest it’s probably time to make the change.
Choose high-quality new tyres with thick tread versus cheaper ones. The initial outlay will cost more but the lifespan will go much further. Also, choose appropriate wheels for your vehicle.
What to do if you can’t change it yourself
If you don’t have the right tools to change a flat tyre or are just lacking the confidence to do it yourself, you should call for emergency assistance. If you’re on the freeway and there is nowhere to stop, navigate to the far left of the freeway or locate a breakdown bay, switch on your hazard and parking lights, exit the vehicle via the passenger door and call for roadside assistance.
At Booth’s Motor Group, we know how frustrating it can be to deal with a flat tyre or car breakdown when you’re on the go. All of our vehicles come fully serviced and our customers are able to take advantage of regular servicing at those all-important milestones. Find your perfect car today and let us take care of the tyre changes and servicing for you.