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Tyres > Help > How To > How to Change a Tyre

How to Change a Tyre

A Comprehensive Guide for UK Motorists


Navigating the challenge of a flat tyre can be a stressful experience. Whether you're journeying through the bustling streets of Manchester, or exploring the rugged Highlands of Scotland, a punctured tyre can present an unexpected obstacle.

This definitive guide has been created to give you the practical knowledge required to change a tyre.

Flat tyre

From preparing for the task to the final checks, we’ll cover every aspect in detail.

Step-by-Step: How to Change a Tyre


Step 1. Initial Preparation

Safety First: Once you notice that your tyre is flat, you will need to gradually reduce your speed and try to find a safe to stop. Aim for somewhere that is nice and level to park. Next, switch on your hazard lights, leave the car in first gear and engage the handbrake. It is important to make yourself as visible to other traffic as possible. If you have a reflective jacket put this one and place your safety triangle a few metres behind your vehicle to warn oncoming traffic.

Gather Your Tools: In your boot, you should find your essential kit for changing a tyre. These include a car jack, a lug wrench, and a spare tyre. It’s good practice to familiarise yourself with these tools even before you encounter a flat tyre. When you buy them make sure you take some time to get to know how they work.

Step 2. Loosening the Wheel Nuts

Initial Loosening: Use your wheel nut key and the wrench to loosen the wheel nuts slightly. Do this while your car’s tyre is still on the ground - this helps as an anchor making it easier to move the nuts. Remember to turn the wrench counter-clockwise. “Lefty-loosey, righty-tighty”.

Step 3. Raising the Car

Jack Placement: If you are not sure where to place the jack, check your vehicle’s handbook to find the 'jack points' – these are specific points on the vehicle which have been designed to ensure no damage is done to your car by the jack. To raise the car, place the jack securely under the designated point and raise the car steadily until the tyre is a few inches above the road.

Step 4. Tyre Removal

Unscrew the Nuts Completely: Once the car is fully off the ground, you can continue to remove the wheel nuts entirely. This can be a stressful time, but remain calm and make sure that you store them safely - so you don’t lose them. Perhaps in the boot or the inside footwell of a car door.

Removing the Flat Tyre: Once the wheel nuts have been removed pull the tyre towards you to detach it from the wheel hub. Tyres can be heavy, so make sure you are ready to take the weight once it is free from the car. Keep a good posture, with your back straight and your legs taking most of the weight.

Step 5. Fitting the Spare Tyre

Attaching the Spare: Move the old wheel out of the way - somewhere safe where it won't cause an accident. Now it’s time to put the spare tyre on. Align the spare tyre with the wheel bolts and mount it onto the hub. Again, make sure to lift carefully. Initially, screw the nuts back on by hand to ensure proper alignment. They do not need to be fully tightened at this point.

Step 6. Lowering the Vehicle

Car Lowering: Gently lower the vehicle back down with the jack. Once the car is fully back on the ground, you can now use the wrench to fully tighten the wheel nuts. It is best practice to follow a diagonal pattern for even distribution of pressure.

Step 7. Post-Change Steps

Equipment Storage: Securely stow your flat tyre, jack, and wrench back in your car.

Final Checks: Do a quick walk-around of your vehicle to ensure everything is in place and you haven’t missed anything.

Step 8. Important Aftercare

Spare Tyre Pressure: Check the pressure of your spare tyre at the earliest opportunity. Driving on a tyre with incorrect pressure can lead to further complications. Or even worse, another flat!

Professional Assistance: Have your tyre inspected by a local garage to determine whether it needs repair or replacement. This step is crucial for your safety and the longevity of your tyres.

Please note: For the purposes of this article we have referred to changing a tyre. In reality the whole wheel is removed and replaced with a space tyre already attached. We have used this terminology as it is the most common phrase associated with this task.

Advanced Safety Tips for UK Drivers

Be Visible: If you find yourself changing a tyre during darker hours or in reduced visibility – such as in fog or heavy rain - make sure that you are visible. Wear a reflective vest and keep your vehicle’s lights on.

Never Go Under the Vehicle: When your vehicle is lifted, it’s unsafe to place any part of your body underneath it. Do not get under the vehicle.

Frequent Equipment Checks: Regularly check the condition of your spare tyre, jack, and wheel brace. Being prepared can make a significant difference in handling unexpected situations.

Embracing Self-Sufficiency on the Road

Changing a tyre is not just about handling a roadside emergency; it’s about embracing a proactive and self-reliant approach to owning a car. With this guide, you should be prepared and confident to be ready for whatever the UK roads throw your way.

Like any skill, changing a tyre becomes easier with practice. Consider familiarising yourself with the process in a controlled environment, like your driveway. However, that all said, if you are not confident in taking on this task yourself, there is no shame in ringing a roadside assistance service for help. Your safety is paramount.

Frequently Asked Questions: How to Change a Tyre

How often do tyre-related breakdowns occur in the UK?

Tyre issues are a significant cause of car breakdowns in the UK. During the summer getaway of 2023, for instance, one in seven reported vehicle breakdowns on England’s major A-roads and motorways were tyre-related. In July and August of 2022 alone, there were nearly 12,000 reported tyre-related breakdowns on England's motorway and major A-road network(1).

What are the peak times for car breakdowns in the UK?

Contrary to common assumptions, the summer months see the most car breakdowns in the UK, with over 25% occurring in July, August, and September(2).

What should I do immediately after noticing a flat tyre?

If you notice a flat tyre while driving, gradually slow down and find a safe, level area to park. Turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers and set up a safety triangle if you have one. Then, follow the steps outlined in our guide to change your tyre safely.

How can I prevent tyre-related breakdowns?

Regular maintenance is key. Ensure your tyres are correctly inflated according to the load, and that they have sufficient tread depth. Regular checks can help identify issues early and prevent breakdowns.

What are the risks of driving with worn or damaged tyres?

Driving with tyres that don't meet the legal requirements can adversely affect grip, braking distance, and steering. Additionally, under-inflated or over-inflated tyres can negatively impact braking distances, steering, fuel efficiency, and the lifetime of the tyres.

What are the legal ramifications of driving with illegal tyres in the UK?

If stopped by the police while driving with illegal tyres, motorists face fines of up to £2,500 and three penalty points per tyre.

How do I know if my tyres are legally compliant?

Check your tyre tread depth to ensure it's above the minimum legal limit of 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre and around its entire circumference. Also, ensure your tyres are correctly inflated according to your vehicle’s recommendations.

Sources:

• (1)Fleet News
• (2)Carbase