By Shell on Jan. 29, 2020
Knowing how to change a tyre isn't the mandatory life hack it once was - not in a world of roadside assistance, run-flat tyres and other handy safety nets.
But there are still reasons to master the skill, not least so you're able to get back on the road in minutes rather than twiddling your thumbs waiting for help. All you need is some basic knowledge and simple preparation to follow what is a surprisingly straightforward process.
Strictly speaking, you can get by with just the tools you'll find in your car - a scissor jack for jacking up your vehicle and a wheel brace or wrench for dealing with the wheel nuts - but it won't always be easy or safe. Or, sometimes, even possible.
So, make up your own all-situations kit with a portable work light (flat tyres can happen at night!), rubber mallet (for stubborn wheel nuts), small piece of timber (for use as a wheel chock), and - if your car doesn't already have one - a reflective or flashing emergency warning sign. To stop grubby hands and knees, or having to wait out bad weather, add some work gloves, a towel and a spray jacket (preferably one made of hi-vis materials).
Pick a safe spot
To change a tyre safely, make sure you're well away from traffic and other dangers, and do it on a hard, level surface. Once you're aware you have a flat tyre, try to slow down gently, look for an appropriate spot, and carefully make your way to it.
If getting completely away from traffic isn't impossible, you need to be seen by other motorists. Always put your hazard lights on, slip on your hi-vis jacket and erect your emergency warning sign.
You've maneuvered to a safe spot. Now you just need to follow these steps and you'll be on your way:
1) Secure vehicle and scene: Turn your engine off, put the transmission in park or, if it's a manual, in gear. Apply the handbrake and turn hazard lights on. Erect your emergency warning sign and, as an additional measure to stop the car rolling away, chock a wheel at the opposite end of the car from the tyre you will be jacking up. Then get out the spare tyre and all the tools. At this point, do not remove the wheel nuts on the offending wheel - just loosen them slightly.
2) Jack the vehicle up: Different cars use different jacks and have different jacking points, so refer to the instructions in your owner's manual (either physical or, if applicable, online). Your car should be jacked up until the relevant tyre is about 5-10cm off the ground. A car hoisted by a jack is not stable, so never put yourself in any position where you're under the vehicle.
3) Remove offending wheel: Unscrew and remove wheel nuts, then put them somewhere convenient. Pull wheel off the wheel studs and hub (what the wheel nuts screw onto) and set it aside.
4) Install spare tyre: Line up the spare wheel with the wheel studs and push it onto the hub. Screw all nuts onto the studs, finger-tight. Then use a wheel brace to tighten them firmly but not fully.
5) Drop vehicle, secure wheel: Lower vehicle off the jack, tighten wheel nuts fully.
6) Clean up: Install flat tyre into spare-wheel receptacle/holder, repack jack, tools etc and ensure all are properly secured. Now you can get back on the road.
If you're installing a space-saver or temporary equivalent, you'll need to adhere to strict speed/distance limitations. Check the wheel itself or your owner's manual. And don't forget to get the flat tyre repaired!