How to Replace a Flat Tyre

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Being able to replace a flat tyre is a skill every motorist should have. If you’re unlucky enough to get a puncture, you’ll certainly be grateful that you know how to swap out the wheel, as it’ll save you waiting for hours potentially for breakdown recovery to arrive.

Plus, it’s not even hard to do – provided you have the right tools with you. When changing your wheel, this has to be your first step.

 

  • Locate your spare wheel, wheel brace and jack:

In most cars, all of these items live in the boot, often hidden beneath the carpet or in a cubby off to the side. First, locate the spare wheel; this may be a full-size replacement or a ‘space-saver,’ which is narrower and typically a different colour to your normal wheels. Regardless of wheel type, it’ll likely be secured in the boot by a long, metal fixing with a handle on top. Turn this anti-clockwise until it comes free, and you should be able to lift the wheel clear of the car. Next, locate your jack. You’ll almost certainly be looking for a scissor jack, and don’t forget the handle – it’s a slim metal rod with a hook on one end. Lastly, you’ll need your wheel brace – a thick metal bar shaped like an ‘L,’ with a hexagon-shaped socket on the end. Depending on the car, you may have locking wheel nuts too, which require you to use a special key – you’ll need this to remove a wheel.

 

  • Get in position:

Take the jack to the side of the car you’ll need to lift to replace your flat tyre and locate the jacking point. Your car should have a metal ‘lip’ running along each side underneath, and the jacking points will be located towards the front and back of the lip, labelled either with arrows or an indent in the panel – check your car’s manual if you’re not sure. Insert the handle into the oval-shaped hole on one end of the jack and twist it clockwise – you’ll see the jack lift up. Keep doing this until the jack is snug with the jacking point, with either side of the top of the jack ‘sandwiching’ the metal lip – but don’t lift the car just yet.

 

  • Break the wheel nuts loose:

Before you lift your car in the air, you’ll need to break the wheel nuts loose – or the wheels will just spin when you try and remove them! Place the wheel brace over the end of a wheel nut (you may need to remove wheel nut covers or centre caps first, which your car’s manual should mention), ensuring it’s sitting snugly on the wheel nut. Then turn the wheel brace anti-clockwise. Depending on how tightly your wheel nuts are on, this might require some serious force. If you don’t have enough leverage to loosen the nuts with your arms, you can stand on the wheel brace and use your body weight – but be careful! Don’t loosen the wheel nuts fully at this point, just enough that they start to spin smoothly with less resistance.

 

  • Jack the car up:

At this point, you can get the car up in the air. Turn the jack handle clockwise once again and lift the car up so that there’s enough space beneath the wheel to remove it.

 

  • Remove the wheel nuts:

Since you’ve already broken the wheel nuts loose, with the car off the ground they should now turn pretty easily. Continue to turn them anti-clockwise until they’re all removed. Your car could have either wheel nuts or wheel bolts; with wheel nuts, your wheel will rest on the studs even with the nuts removed, but if you have wheel bolts the wheel might just fall off when you remove the last one, so watch out for that.

 

  • Lift the wheel off and put the replacement on:

Now the wheel is ready to come off, so pull it off the car and set it to one side. If all of the wheel nuts or bolts are removed and it won’t come off with a light pull, it may be corroded onto the face of the hub. A couple of swift kicks to the face of the wheel will break it free – just keep an eye on the jack when you’re doing this to make sure it doesn’t move too much. With the old wheel off, put the new one on.

 

  • Tighten the nuts or bolts:

If your car has wheel nuts and studs, your new wheel just slips over the studs and locates itself on the hub. Easy. If you have wheel bolts to contend with, however, you’ll need to line the holes in the wheel up with the holes in the hub for the bolts to thread in. This can be a bit fiddly, but support the wheel with your legs if need be and take your time lining it up. Once you get one bolt in and tighten it a little, the rest should follow with ease. Get the wheel on as tightly as you can with the car up in the air; if you have a passenger, ask them to press the brakes while you do this to stop the wheel from turning.

 

  • Lower the car back down and check the wheel nuts:

Now you can lower the car back down. Remove the jack from underneath your car and perform one last check of the wheel nuts; tighten them as much as you can with the wheel brace and you should be good to go. You don’t really have to worry about over-tightening your wheels with this tool, as it usually doesn’t give enough leverage for that to be an issue.

That’s it, you’re all set. It may sound a little tricky, but once you’ve done it once it gets so much easier. Most of the challenge lies in understanding where things are on your specific car and getting comfortable with the jack and wheel brace, so take your time and – above all – be safe.

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