In the event of a flat tyre, you may like to try to change it for the spare tyre, and this should be relatively easy. It is however potentially dangerous so please take into account the following points.
Find a safe environment
Make sure that you find a safe environment. Your car should be on a flat area, not a hill or slope, or on the hard shoulder of the motorway. The ground should not be soft or the jack will not work, chose hard ground. If you can do so, pull off the motorway and get well away from any traffic before attempting this task. If you are stranded on the hard shoulder with a flat tyre, you must call for assistance, using the emergency telephones, do not attempt to change the wheel on the hard shoulder.
How to change a wheel.. the safe way..
Correct tools to hand
Make sure you have the correct tools. A good torch (one that can be used hands-free); the correct jack for the car; vehicle handbook to help you locate the jack points; wheel-nut wrench and locking nut key (should you have them fitted); an extension bar to increase the leverage of the wheel-brace for tight fit, or rusting wheel nuts; gloves to protect your hands (as the wheel will be filthy); at least one wheel chock (wooden block or brick to help keep car still); a car mat or something to kneel on (as the ground will be dirty); knife or scissors (to remove cable ties on the wheel trims); a reflective jacket and/or reflective warning triangle for your safety, (even in daylight); and make sure you also have your foot-pump and pressure gauge.
Practise in daylight
Check this out in the daylight and practise changing a tyre in the day, when the weather is good, so that if you have an emergency, and have to change it in the dark or in the bad weather, it will mean at least you have practised and it should go better for you.
Make use of the owner’s handbook and follow the instructions. It will also show you where the jacking point on the car is, and how to get the spare wheel out of the carrier or stow compartment. To use the wrong jacking point can be extremely dangerous and cause the car and the jack to collapse. If this information clashes with that in your handbook, then defer to the handbook.
- DO get your passenger out of the car and waiting safely away from the road, before jacking the car up.
- DO NOT work under the car when it’s on the jack.
- DO plan the job by collecting the spare, and the jack and the tools, etc, and raise the vehicle for the minimum amount of time.
- DO switch off the engine and switch on the hazard lights, apply the handbrake and select first gear, or in automatic select P. This will keep the car from rolling when on the jack.
- DO put the chock against the wheel opposite to the one to be replaced.
- DO take care when getting the spare wheel if carried under the car, there may be rust and difficulty removing it.
- PLACE the spare on the ground near by in convenient spot – make sure it does roll away.
- CUT and remove cable ties and wheel trim from offending wheel.
- PUT the jack in the required point closest to the offending wheel. Ensure that the jack head is located securely, and only jack the car up until it lifts up on its springs, for the time being.
- USING the wheel brace and the locking nut key (if required) slacken off the wheel nuts (mostly turn them anti-clockwise to undo). This could be tough, initially, so use the wheel brace extension piece for extra leverage.
- DO make certain you do not hurt yourself. Keeping your back straight and using the weight of your body, apply downward pressure in a controlled way, to finally make the nuts ‘break’. If you take up a strong stance with weight evenly distributed between both legs, then you won’t fall over when this happens, as it could be sudden. You can use your foot to do this, as you can get more pressure on the wheel brace. But do support you upper body, to guard against falling or losing your balance. Leave the nuts in place for the moment.
Lifting the car
- USING the jack handle, raise the vehicle some more, just so the wheel is clear of the ground and can be turned slightly.
- Remove the now slackened wheel nuts/bolts whilst still keeping the wheel in place with your foot or knee. If you leave the top nut till last it will allow both hands to be free to lift the wheel off the remaining bolts of locator, and take it away from the hub. Keep the nuts safe by placing them inside a convenient pocket, or in the upturned bowl of the newly removed wheel.
- Fitting the new wheel is the reverse procedure – that is, place the new wheel onto the locating bolts and replace the top nut first. All nuts should be finger tightened at this point and do this in a diagonal way, for even fitting. Never oil or grease these bolts before fitting, as this will cause them to shake or work lose.
- Gently and carefully lower the jack until the weight is touching the ground, then fully tighten all the bolts using the wheel brace. Do this in a diagonal sequence for equal fitting.
- Replace the wheel trim, add cable ties if you have them, and then stow the flat tyre and the tools in the boot or wheel carrier.
- Do make sure you get the spare fixed or replaced, as soon as possible, and make sure the new tyre is properly inflated. Replace the dust caps.
Space Saver Spare Wheel
Some cars have temporary use skinny spare tyres which carry restrictions on use. Typically you are only allowed to travel at speeds up to 50 miles per hour. These should be replaced with normal sized tyres as soon as possible.
Some warning lights for ABS, traction control and automatic gearboxes make show on the instrument panel when the space saver tyre is being used.
If this all seems too much!
This might seem too much trouble, especially when you consider that the tyres were probably last changed by a professional with an air-powered gadget for tightening the nuts. If you would rather not have to do this kind of thing, then there are plenty of road side assist companies who will be glad to come and change the wheel for you. Just remember to get the correct cover, and always carry a usable spare. It’s not point getting them out if there is nothing they can do for you, because your spare is flat and unusable.