You may not think about this very often but there is always some risk of getting a flat tyre, no matter what distance or driving style you have. Your mobile phone can help in such an event but remember it may go dead when it’s most needed or you might be out of reception while on the road. 

It is definitely useful to know how to do the job yourself. In practice, changing a tyre is easier than you might think. If you take the following steps, you’ll find yourself back on the road before you know it:

Man changing back wheel

Changing a wheel:

1. Pull over and signal

Before you do anything, turn on your hazard lights and move over to the side of the road. You should never stop to deal with a flat tyre in the middle of a busy motorway.

2. Use your parking brake

Once you’re settled, turn off your engine, put your car into gear and use your parking brake. This will prevent your car from rolling as you get to work.

3. Use wheel wedges or your environment to secure your car

If you have wheel wedges in your boot, remove them and align them with the set of wheels that haven’t been punctured or flattened. These wedges will work in tandem with your parking brake to keep your car in place. If you don’t have wheel wedges on you, you can use elements of your environment, like large stones or a pavement, to better support your car.

A warning triangle on the road

4. Take your spare tyre out of your car

With your car secure, you can begin pulling out the tools you’ll need to fix your wheel. To get started, find your spare wheel and unlock any tabs that may be holding it in place. Lay this tyre, more commonly referred to as a “donut”, down next to your car but out of the way of traffic.

5. Locate your jack, spanner, and key

Make sure you have all of the tools necessary to remove your damaged tyre and replace it with your spare. You’ll want your jack, spanner, and key out beside you while you work. This way, you won’t have to run back and forth to your boot to get the next tool you need.

6. Remove your hubcap or wheel cover

If you have a hubcap over your wheel’s lug nuts, lift it away to reveal the inner workings of your tyre. You’ll need to do the same with a wheel cover.

7. Loosen your lug nuts

Before setting your jack or lifting your car, use your lug wrench to loosen your wheels’ lug nuts. This will make your later removal simpler.

Driver changing a wheel

8. Place your jack under the car

With the inner workings of your hub exposed, place your jack under your car. Find a spot beneath your car next to the damaged tyre that’s flat and made out of metal. You don’t want to lift your car’s moulded plastic, or else you’ll risk further damaging the vehicle.

9. Lift your car

Following the instructions on your individual jack, lift your car until your wheel is no longer on the ground.

10. Remove your lug nuts and your tyre

With your tyre elevated, finish removing your lug nuts and set them to the side. You may be able to unscrew them by hand, depending on how loose you got them originally. Then, take your tyre by the tread and gently pull it off of its hub. Place it on the ground next to you.

11. Place your spare

Line your spare tyre up with your hub and set it into place.

Woman changing a wheel

12. Re-apply your lug nuts

Fit your lug nuts into the applicable bolt holes. You should, at this point, be able to screw your lug nuts in by hand. Do not do so until the bolts are too tight to move. You want the lug nuts to remain loose until you’ve lowered your car back onto the road.

13. Lower and remove your jack

Again, following the instructions on your jack, lower your vehicle back onto the road. Once it’s settled, and not until then, you can remove the jack and replace it in the back of your car.

14. Double-check your lug nuts

Use your lug wrench to finish tightening your lug nuts, checking them once you’ve finished.

15. Reapply your hub cap or wheel cover

If you had to remove a hubcap or wheel cover to access your hub, replace it so it fits over your spare tyre.

16. Replace your tools

Put all of your tools and your damaged tyre in the back of your car. Ideally, keep them all contained or in the same place so they’re easier to find in the future.

17. Check your tyre pressure

While you may not be able to fill up your spare while you’re on the side of the road, you should still check the tyre pressure to ensure that it’s safe to drive on.

18. Schedule an appointment with your local garage

Before driving off, get in touch with a representative at your local garage and schedule an appointment to have your tyre replaced.

A man getting ready for a wheel change

Driving on a spare tyre

Most spare tyres require you to drive under a certain speed and distance so that the structural integrity of the tyre is maintained. Follow these requirements to the letter until you can make it to your local garage. Your mechanic may recommend that you replace both your damaged tyre and your spare, depending on the distance you had to travel.

Don’t let the ins and outs of a tyre change keep you on the side of the road. With a little practice, you’ll be able to replace a damaged tyre in no time at all.