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How to ... Change Your Wheel

How to ... Change Your Wheel

A flat tyre occurs when the air pressure within the tyre has reduced significantly. It is unsafe to drive on a flat tyre, you should slow down gradually and steer to the side of the road.

From here you can call your recovery service for help, or you may want to change the wheel yourself. If you do here is our step-by-step guide to changing a wheel ...

How to change a wheel

You will need;

  • A vehicle jack
  • A spare wheel
  • A wheel wrench
  • Locking wheel nut adaptor if present
  • Gloves (optional)

Before you attempt to change a wheel, you must always ensure you are in a safe place to do so. It is strongly advised that if you are on a Motorway hard shoulder, at the side of a busy road, or on loose uneven ground, you should call for assistance rather than change the wheel yourself. Always put your hazard lights on.

Step 1: Prepare the area

Make sure that everybody has exited the vehicle and is in a safe place away from traffic. Ensure the vehicle has its handbrake on and is in first gear, or P for automatics. The items needed to change a wheel should be supplied in the boot of your car. Lay these out close to hand, so your vehicle is raised for the shortest possible amount of time.

Step 2: Loosen the wheel nuts

Use the tyre wrench to gently loosen the wheel nuts, without fully removing them. If you have a locking wheel nut you will also have a locking wheel nut adaptor supplied with the tools in your boot, so use this where appropriate.

Step 3: Raise the vehicle

Locate the jacking point closest to the wheel you are changing. Some are marked with an arrow on the body of the vehicle, all will be detailed in your vehicle handbook. It is vital that a jacking point is correctly used, engaging the jack outside of defined areas can result in damage to the vehicle. Once the jacking point has been located, you can raise the vehicle.

Step 4: Remove wheel with flat tyre

You can then fully undo the wheel nuts and lift off the wheel with the flat tyre.

Step 5: Put on spare wheel

You can then line up the spare wheel and gently slide on. Follow the removal instructions in reverse to complete the change. Replace wheel nuts, lower car and tighten wheel nuts as securely as possible before driving off.

Step 6: Drive to your nearest garage

After you have changed a tyre yourself, it is advisable to stop at the nearest garage or specialist tyre centre to ensure the tyre is secure and replace the spare.

Read more: How to Check Your Oil Level

Many more modern vehicles will not come supplied with a full size spare wheel. They may have a 'skinny spare'. These tyres are only capable of driving up to certain speeds for a certain distance. If you have a skinny spare, make sure you check your vehicle handbook and are clear about its capabilities and limitations.

Can I drive on a flat tyre?

If you suffer from a flat tyre, you should aim to safely stop your vehicle as soon as possible. If you continue to drive with a flat tyre you risk causing more damage to your vehicle. This can include damage to the wheel and potentially damage to the underbody of the car. A flat tyre will also reduce the amount of control you have over the vehicle as well as increase your stopping distance, making an accident more likely.

If you have suffered a flat while you are driving, you may notice the steering has become heavy and the car is pulling to one side if you have a flat tyre. If you experience these kind of driving conditions you should make your way to the side of the road to check for damage.

How can I reduce the risk of getting a flat tyre?

If your flat tyre has been caused by an object from the road piercing the rubber wall and causing a puncture there is no way to reduce the likelihood of this happening. Avoiding driving into, or bumping up kerbs will reduce your risk.

Tyre pressure

Keeping your tyres inflated to the correct pressure will reduce the risk. If your tyre is underinflated more friction will be produced and so more heat also. This heat damages the surface of the tyre and makes a blowout more likely. An overinflated tyre can also cause a problem as it leaves you more vulnerable to tyre damage from bumpy roads. It is advisable to check your air pressure at least once a month. In doing this you will also notice is any one tyre is continually losing more air which could indicate a slow puncture.

Tyre tread

Making sure the tread on your tyres isn't too low will also help prevent a flat. The legal limit for tyre tread is 1.6mm, most specialist would recommend changing your tyre when the tread reaches 3mm. The lower the tread level on your tyres, the thinner the tyre wall which makes the tyre more vulnerable to being punctured.

Read more: How to Check Your Tyre Tread Depth

Leaky valve

The rubber tyre surface is not the only area of your wheel that leaves you vulnerable to a flat tyre. You could also have a leaky valve. A leak could be caused by something as simple as a small amount of dirt trapped inside. To avoid this, just check the valve is kept clear and make sure you securely replace the dust cap.

You may not always have a spare wheel

To reduce the overall weight of the car and improve miles per gallon figures, many manufacturers do not provide a traditional spare wheel or skinny spare anymore. Instead you may find yourself presented with either of the following;

Tyre sealant

You have been provided with a can of tyre sealant and a pump. If you were to suffer from a puncture, the sealant can be used to seal the hole and you can then pump air into the tyre. This is not designed as a permanent fix. It is a short term measure to allow you to drive to your closest tyre specialist or garage, you should never drive a long distance if you have used this type of fix.

Run flat tyres

A run flat tyre has a reinforced side wall that makes it possible for the weight of the car to be supported even will a total loss of air. If you suffered a puncture, you could safely continue driving for a limited number of miles at a limited speed. You can find out from your vehicle handbook whether your car has been fitted with run flat tyres or not, or you can look at the side tyre wall where there is likely to be some indication that it is a run flat tyre.

If you are not confident, you should not attempt to change your wheel. You should call your breakdown service and wait in a safe place until assistance arrives.

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The comments above do not necessarily reflect Rivervale's views unless clearly stated.

Driver advice
14 May 2018
Written by Natalie Faughy
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