How to Change a Tyre
Last updated: 02/11/2023 | Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes
Being able to change a tyre is a life skill that can help you feel more confident on the road. While you do have the option of waiting for your breakdown cover to come and change your tyre for you, you’ll be on your way much faster if you learn how to do it yourself.
If you’ve never changed a tyre before, or have tried and failed in the past, you may be feeling more than a little apprehensive about the task. Fortunately, changing a tyre is relatively straightforward with a bit of practice and the right set of instructions.
The first step you need to take after spotting your punctured tyre is to park your car in a safe place. Stopping straight away might seem instinctive, but it’s well worth trying to get to a safer stopping point even if it means damaging your flat tyre further.
When you do stop, it’s important to put on your hazard lights and only turn them off when you’re ready to drive away. This will alert other drivers to your presence and encourage them to take extra care when driving past you. Don’t forget to put your handbrake on as well before getting out and changing your tyre.
If you want to have a fighting chance at changing a tyre when you’re on the road, it’s important that your car is equipped with all the essential equipment that you need. This includes:
The following steps will help you to change a wheel effectively no matter the type of car you have. However, remember that there will be slight differences between vehicles, which is why it’s important to have your car’s manual handy. You may also want to practice this process at home at a time when you’re not in a hurry to become more familiar with the tools you’re using.
If you have enough wheel chocks, you should place one on each car tyre that you aren’t changing. However, if you only have one, the most important wheel to take care of is the one opposite to your flat tyre. In a pinch, you can use any large and heavy object such as a brick, but it’s important to make sure your car is secure before starting work.
It will be difficult to loosen your wheel nuts after you’ve jacked your car up, so you’ll need to make sure they’re loose enough to turn by hand before you do this. Use a wheel nut key or wheel wrench to turn the nuts anti-clockwise. This can be hard work, so if you don’t have much strength in your hands it could be difficult. Once you can turn the nuts with your hand, stop so they don’t fall off completely.
To lift your car up, you’ll need to find where your car’s jacking points are. These can be found in your manual and are usually marked. You’ll need to fit the jack to the side of your car near to the wheel you’re changing and wind it slowly. The jack needs to stay straight, so you may need to adjust your position a few times during the process. Once your car is about 15cm off the ground, you can stop, but make sure that it’s high enough for you to be able to get your new tyre on.
Now you can remove your wheel nuts completely, but make sure you take note of which side was facing up, as they should ideally be replaced in exactly the same way as they were attached before. You may also need to remove the plastic wheel trim before the wheel bolts will come off. After removing the wheel nuts, you can lift the car tyre away. If the wheel seems to be stuck or isn’t coming off easily, it’s best to call your breakdown cover provider because forcing your wheel off could cause you to injure yourself or damage your car.
If you’ve managed to successfully remove your punctured wheel, position your spare tyre and begin tightening the bolts to keep it in place. The wheel will be heavy to lift up, so make sure you lift it slowly and carefully so as not to strain yourself. Once you lower your car to the ground using the jack, check the bolts are fully tightened and remove the jack. It’s also worth using your tyre pressure gauge to make sure your new wheel is ready to go.
Even though you’ve successfully changed your tyre, it’s important to pay a visit to a garage as soon as you can. You shouldn’t drive with a space saver wheel or skinny wheel for very long, but it should be enough to get you to your destination or to a garage where you can get a proper wheel fitted. The garage will also be able to advise you on your flat tyre – depending on what happened they may be able to repair it for you. You should also replace the spare wheel you have with you in your car so you’re not caught short the next time you have a flat.
In most circumstances, car insurance won’t cover the cost of replacing a flat tyre. However, if your tyre became damaged in a collision with another car, your insurance policy might pay out. Comprehensive car insurance policies usually cover the costs of repairing damage to your own car as well as the other vehicles involved in an accident, but you’ll have to check your terms and conditions to be sure. If your tyre was damaged due to a pothole in the road, you may be able to make a compensation claim with the local council.
If the only damage your car suffered in an accident is a flat tyre, it may not be worth making a claim on your car insurance depending on how much excess you have to pay. Car insurance is essential for all drivers and it can be very useful to have extensive cover, but it’s up to you whether you think making a claim is worth it depending on your circumstances.
Changing a tyre is a great skill to have, as it helps you get home or to a garage quickly and safely. However, remember that having both breakdown cover and car insurance can provide you with extra support and help you cover costs when repairs aren’t quite so straightforward.