If you drive a car, then it’s worthwhile learning how to change a tyre.
If you’re not too sure how to go about it, or what tools you will need, don’t worry. This article tells you everything you need to know.
Like most skills, the best way to learn is to actually do it. But don’t wait till the last minute (i.e. when you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere) to give it a shot. Practice in your own driveway, where you can easily get help if things go wrong. And make sure you follow all the steps, particularly those regarding safety.
To change a tyre you’ll need:
- A spare tyre, ideally the one included with your car. If you don’t have a spare, check the owner’s manual or driver’s side door panel to find out what tyre you need. (Your car may need a particular type of tyre.)
- If you have any doubts about what tyre you need, talk to a specialist. Driving with the wrong tyre can lead to problems down the track.
- You’ll need a tyre iron or lug wrench to remove the lug nuts (a.k.a. wheel nuts) and get the wheel off. It needs to fit the lug nuts securely so you can loosen them easily. Test it on your car before you hit the road.
- You’ll also need a jack to get your car far enough off the ground to remove the wheel. Most car manufacturers supply one, so find yours and test it out at home to make sure it works.
- Changing a tyre can be a nasty and dangerous business, so get some heavy work gloves to protect your hands.
- A reliable torch can make all the difference if you have to change a tyre at night.
- You’ll need somewhere to put the damaged tyre once it’s been removed. Putting it on a large plastic bag or tarpaulin will protect the interior of your car.
- And finally, it’s a good idea to have a can of WD-40 in case anything gets stuck.
Now that you’ve got the tools you need, here’s how to change your tyre.
1. Find a safe place to pull over
- Get off of the road quickly so you’re not in danger. Your car can’t drive very far on its rim, so the sooner you find a safe place the better. Also, the area should be flat so you don’t have to worry about the car rolling off the jack.
- Turn off the engine, engage the handbrake, and then remove the spare type from the boot (or wherever it’s stored).
2. Loosen—but don’t remove—the lug nuts on the flat tyre
- Remove the hubcap. (If it doesn’t come off easily, pry it off with the flat end of your tyre iron/lug wrench.)
- Next, use the tyre iron or lug wrench to loosen each nut about two turns. (But don’t remove them completely—that comes later). This makes them easier to remove once the car is off of the ground.
- Tip: If the lug nuts won’t move, spray them with WD-40 and try again.
3. Use the jack to raise the car
- Read the owner’s manual to find out where you should place the jack. This is important. If you don’t place it somewhere secure, you risk having the whole thing come crashing down—possibly right on top of you.
- Extend the jack until it just touches the underside of the car, and then move it to the recommended position. Slowly raise the car using the jack, and then keep raising it until it’s at least 6cm off of the ground. This should give you enough room to remove the flat tyre.
- Don’t place any part of your body under the car, and be wary of any signs of an impending topple.
4. Remove the flat tyre
- Remove the loosened lug nuts and put them somewhere safe. (If you lose them, you’re in big trouble). Grip the wheel firmly on both sides, and pull it towards you, and lay it flat on the ground.
5. Fit the spare tyre
- Grab the spare tyre by the outer edges, lift it up and slide it onto the hub. Replace the lug nuts and tighten them with your fingers so they don’t fall off.
6. Lower the car back to the ground
- Slowly lower the jack until the tyre is resting on the ground. Once the weight of the car is no longer pressing down on the jack, remove it from under the car.
7. Tighten the lug nuts
- Use the tyre iron or lug wrench to tighten the lug nuts the rest of the way. Replace your hubcap and make sure it’s secure.
8. Replace all of your tools
- While it may tempting to just throw your tools in the boot, putting them away properly means you’ll be able to find them quickly the next time you have to change a tyre.
- Put the flat tyre where you removed the spare, or wrap it in a bag or tarpaulin if you have to transport it inside your car. And make sure you get it repaired/replaced as soon as you can.
As we mentioned earlier, the best way to learn how to change a tyre is to practice at home. Soon you’ll have the process down pat, and you’ll be able to change a tyre without even thinking about it.
- But print off these instructions and store them in your glovebox, just in case.