The first time you get a flat tyre can be nerve-wracking. One minute you’re cruising along in your car singing along to the radio, the next you hear a thump and your car starts vibrating and making strange noises.
The good news is that changing a flat tyre not as difficult as it sounds. Here’s how to do it safely.
Make sure you have all the tools you need
The most important thing you need is, of course, a spare tyre. You might be able to get away with borrowing everything else from a fellow driver, but if you don’t have a tyre, you’re out of luck. The spare tyre should be fully inflated.
The tools you will need are a jack (to raise the car) and a lug wrench (to tighten and loosen the wheel nuts).
There is one other item which you should keep on hand if possible: a copy of your owner’s manual, which should show you with diagrams on how to remove and screw on a new wheel.
Find somewhere to stop safely
You can drive safely for a short distance if you take it slow. Find a flat road to park safely. If you are on the expressway when you discover the flat tyre, exit the expressway immediately and find a safe road to stop on.
Apply the handbrake, turn on your hazard lights and place your red triangle behind the car. You are now ready to change your tyre.
Loosen the nuts using the lug wrench
Your car might or might not have a hub cap. If it does, remove it now.
In order to remove the tyre, use the lug wrench (it is usually a long piece of metal in an L or X shape). Fit one of the ends of the lug wrench on one of the nuts on your wheel hub and turn it counterclockwise. If the wrench is too difficult to turn, try using your foot.
Loosen all the nuts but leave them on the wheel without removing them completely.
Raise the car with the car jack
Next, position the jack underneath the frame of your car close to the tyre being replaced. You will see a sort of ridge running the length of your car frame with a jack point that you can fit into the notch on your jack. Make sure the jack is securely attached and won’t slip off.
Do note that when you lift the car frame, it might roll backwards or forwards. So, it is a good idea to heavy objects in front and behind the other wheels just in case. You can use rocks, bricks, or even your spare tyre.
To jack up the tyre, stick the hooked rod into the hole in the jack and crank it up and down to lift the car. Keep all body parts and belongings far from the underside of the car when you are doing so.
Unscrew the nuts by hand and remove the flat tyre
Now that your car is supported by the jack, you can completely unscrew and remove the nuts. Then, remove the tyre by slowly and carefully pulling it towards you.
Attach the spare tyre
Now it’s time to attach the spare tyre. Since you managed to successfully remove the flat tyre, you should be able to see where the nuts and bolts should go.
Once the tyre is in position, screw the bolts on as much as you can by hand. There is no need to use the lug wrench at this point.
Lower the car until the wheels touch the ground and tighten the bolts with the lug wrench
Now, use the jack to lower the car just enough to let the spare tyre touch the ground. However, do not lower it completely as you don’t want the whole weight of the car to rest on the tyre yet, since the bolts have not been completely tightened.
Now, use the lug wrench to tighten the bolts as much as you can by turning in a clockwise direction. Use your foot and the weight of your body to push down on the wrench as much as you can.
Lower the car totally and put the hubcap back on
Now you can finally use the jack to completely lower your car frame. If there is a hubcap and it fits your wheel, you can put it back on now.
Check the tyre pressure
If you have a tyre pressure gauge, check to ensure it is enough to enable you to drive safely. A mini spare tyre has a different recommended pressure than a regular tyre, usually a minimum of 60psi. If the tyre isn’t adequately inflated, drive slowly to the nearest petrol station.
Remember, a spare tyre isn’t meant to be a permanent replacement, so you should visit a trusted workshop as soon a possible to have the flat tyre examined. Your workshop will advise you as to whether it can be fixed or must be replaced.
Stay safe on every drive with motor insurance from HL Assurance.