A flat tyre can range from being a bit of an inconvenience to a full-blown catastrophe – a slow puncture on the driveway is one thing, a blow-out on the motorway is quite another. Either way, knowing how to change the wheel yourself can save a lot of time and hassle.
How to spot a flat tyre
If your tyre is completely flat, the easiest way to spot this is to just take a look at the thing, but a visual check will not always be enough, especially if your car has a slow puncture.
If one of the front tyres are affected, you’ll probably notice the steering getting heavy or the car pulling to one side, but if the rear tyres are affected you may not notice any difference. This is why it’s important to check the tread depth, pressure and condition of your tyres at least once a month, and always before setting off on a long journey.
Remember, the legal minimum tread depth for tyres in the UK is 1.6mm and you can measure this by placing a £2 coin or 20p piece in the tread – if the outer rim of the coin is covered, you’re good to go; if not, it’s time for a change.
While you’re there, have a feel around the tyre wall for signs of wear and tear, and if it’s badly worn get it replaced as soon as possible.
Then look in your owner’s manual for your car’s correct tyre pressures before checking the pressure of each tyre, including the spare, and pumping them up if necessary. This is important because under-inflated tyres can increase wear by up to 30% and fuel consumption by as much as 20%.
How to change a flat tyre in 7 easy steps
We now have a full page and video guide on how to change a tyre, you can find the guide here.
If you’ve done your monthly checks and you’ve got a flat, here’s how to go about changing it…
- Make sure the car is on a flat, level surface – if you get a puncture while driving, make sure you pull over safely onto some even, solid ground.
- Turn off the engine and apply the handbrake, or put the car in parking mode if you have an automatic. If you’re changing a tyre at the roadside you should also flick on your hazard warnings.
- Take out the spare and any tools you’ll need and place the jack in the vehicle’s recommended jacking point, you’ll find details of jacking points in the owner’s manual. Once the jack is engaged, extend it until the car lifts slightly off its springs.
- ‘Crack’ and loosen the wheel nuts using the car’s wheel brace and a locking wheel nut adaptor if necessary, then with the nuts slightly loosened fully jack the car so the wheel is clear of the ground.
- You can then remove the nuts and the wheel, before placing the spare wheel on and securing it in place by loosely fitting the top nut first, followed by the others.
- Lower the jack until the wheel touches the ground, then fully tighten the nuts in a diagonal sequence, again using the wheel brace.
- Once the nuts are tightened and the wheel is secure, put the tools and the wheel with the damaged tyre back in the car and off you go.
The next thing to do is check the pressure of the tyre you just fitted to make sure it’s correct, and then you’re good to go. Remember to get the damaged tyre replaced as soon as possible.
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