There’s a sudden pop followed by a flapping sound, the steering becomes sluggish, and your heart sinks. A flat tyre is always deflating. Like most things, changing a tyre can be daunting if you don’t know how, but it really is simple. Follow our guide and you’ll be back on the road in no time.
What you need
Nearly all modern cars come equipped with the necessary items, which are:
- A jack
- Spare tyre
- Wheel brace
They’re usually located in a recessed section of the boot, though some jacks are known to be squeezed into the engine well. It’s worth familiarising yourself with their locations now, and making sure the car manual is in the glovebox.
Pull Over Safely
Once you realise you have a flat tyre, do not stop suddenly or pull over abruptly. Slow down and look for a suitable place to stop. Ideally, a nice big parking lot, but a wide shoulder on a straight stretch of road is also a good spot. Try to aim for a level and firm surface, and avoid narrow shoulders and never stop on sharp bends because it restricts other drivers’ ability to see you in time.
If you have to drive a little way to find a suitable spot, then do so slowly. While driving with a flat tyre can damage the rim, replacing it is easier than replacing you. Safety always comes first.
Once you’ve found a safe spot, pull over as far from the lane as possible, apply the handbrake and switch on the hazard lights. Before getting out of the car, always check for traffic, and wear bright clothing if it’s dark. We recommend leaving a high-visibility shirt in the car permanently.
Loosen Those Nuts
Grab the items you need to change the tyre. Lay the spare tyre on its side on the ground so there’s no chance of it rolling away. If the flat tyre has a hub cap, take it off; you usually just have to unclip them. Now, you want to loosen the lug nuts until you break their resistance, which is usually one full turn. Remember, it’s almost always anti-clockwise to loosen, and clockwise to tighten. Give it a solid jolt to get the brace going; if it’s particularly tight, you can carefully use your foot to lean on it, or put your body weight behind it. Remember to practice good posture, and keep a straight back when applying force to avoid injury.
Raise the Car
Once the nuts are loosened, position the jack under the car. You can find the correct spot in the car’s manual; it’s usually under the frame by the flat tyre. Slowly raise the car until the flat tyre is about 10cm off the ground.
Swap the tyres
Remove the nuts completely and keep them somewhere safe (make sure they don’t roll around on the road and get lost). Remove the flat tyre carefully and place under the car (in case the jack fails, the flat tyre will provide support for the car). Line up the spare tyre with the lug bolts and slowly push the tyre onto the wheel hub. Replace the nuts and tighten them as much as you can by hand.
Lower the Jack
Remove the flat tyre from under the car and lower the jack until the spare tyre is taking the weight of the vehicle. Slide the jack out from under the car and use the wheel brace to fully tighten the nuts. Replace the hubcap or store it somewhere safe in the car.
Don’t Leave Anything Behind
Replace all the equipment and stow the flat tyre in the boot. Congratulations! You’ve changed a flat tyre! Your training is complete.
Drop into Eastern Tyres
Not all spares are made equal. Some are designed only to get you to a technician who can provide you with a new tyre. If that’s the case, drop in and see us as soon as you can. If you’re not sure what type of spare you have, we recommend paying us a visit to find out. Whatever the case, make sure you come and see us so we can either repair or replace the flat tyre.