If you spend any amount of time behind the wheel, you are certain to have to deal with a flat sooner or later. Would you know what to do? Here’s our step-by-step guide.
First and foremost, a few cautionary notes:
- Never try to change your wheel on the motorway hard shoulder. Park up on the hard shoulder, get yourself and your passengers well clear and call for assistance.
- Never change the wheel with passengers in the car. Everybody out!
- Do not try to jack the car up on uneven or loose ground.
- Never work underneath the car when it is supported only by a jack.
- Always read your vehicle handbook. If the following advice is in any way different from what you read, follow the instructions in the handbook.
First, get your car into a safe position away from moving traffic. Ensure the handbrake is engaged and leave the car in first gear or Park. Switch on the hazard lights.
Check that you have your jack, wheel brace, wheel chock and locking wheel nut key (if fitted), and that your spare is inflated and has adequate tread. If you have a fluorescent tabard and some gloves, now is the time to put them on.
Lifting the car
Chock the wheel diagonally opposite the flat and remove the wheel trim or hub cap, if fitted. This will usually just pull off. Loosen the wheel nuts before lifting, using the wheel brace and the locking wheel nut key, if fitted. Do not completely remove the nuts – the idea at this stage is just to get them turning.
Place the jack under the jacking point nearest to the wheel you are changing, making sure the head of the jack engages correctly. Now, gently raise the vehicle till the wheel is off the ground. If the tyre is completely flat, lift another couple of inches to make sure there will be sufficient clearance for an inflated tyre to fit.
Changing the wheel
Completely remove the wheel nuts or bolts, placing them somewhere safe but close to hand. If the wheel starts to wobble around, use a knee to hold it in place. Leave the top nut till last. After removing the final nut, lift the wheel clear.
Offer up the spare, again using your knees to pin it in place. If you have difficulty, check whether you need to raise the car a little higher. Now, tighten the wheel nuts a little at a time, working diagonally.
Finishing the job
Lower the jack carefully, and when the wheel is back on the ground, tighten all the wheel nuts, using the wheel brace and locking wheel nut key. Again, work diagonally. Refit the wheel cover if you have one, remove the wheel chock and you are done.
Now, it is just a case of stowing everything away safely and getting on your way. Get to a tyre centre as soon as possible to get the damaged tyre changed or repaired and to check the pressure on the one you just fitted. And remember, if you are using a skinny “space saver” spare, always follow the speed restrictions and do not use it a minute longer than you have to.