To save space and reduce the weight of the car, many modern vehicles are equipped with a tire repair kit – seal and compressor – instead of the spare wheel. If you do not have a spare wheel, it would be good to get acquainted with this kit.
If your car is equipped with a spare wheel, a good idea would be to practice changing it at home, during the day, when it is plenty of light.
This way, if you need to change a flat tire in the future, you’ll be able to handle it more easily, even if it’s night, cold or wet.
If you are in a safe environment, you have the right tools and some basic knowledge, changing the car tires should be quite simple. Check the car manual, it may contain some useful information, specific to your car.
If the tips in the car manual and those below seem to contradict each other, please always follow the directions in the manual.
How to Change a Flat Tire – Safety Tips
- Do not try to change the flat tire on the emergency lane of the highway or on the side of the road. Stop the car and keep it at a safe distance from the rest of the traffic, then call for help.
- Do not try to change the tire on a soft or uneven surface.
- Do not try to change the tire when you have passengers in the car. Move them all to a safe place, away from the car and the road.
- Do not work under the car when it is raised on the jack.
- Do not use the jack in other parts, except in its application points – attaching the jack in the wrong place can damage the car, in addition, there is a risk of it collapsing when it is raised.
What do you need to change a tire by hand?
Before you proceed on changing your tire you need to make sure you have the right materials and equipment. If you are not in the safety of your own home some additional equipment is required. For a complete list of materials and instructions we recommend reading this in-depth guide written by by Andrew Quinn at WikiHow.
- Reflective triangle – preferably two – Use it with confidence if you are not in your own backyard
- The car’s manual – tells you where to place the jack
- Spare tire – Needs to be checked if it is properly inflated
- Car jack
- Cross wrench for wheel bolts
- Torque wrench
- Gloves – the wheel / tire will be dirty
- Something to kneel on (blanket)
- Reflective vest
Things to do before you lift up the car to change the tire
Plan the procedure so that it does not consume much time:
- Stop the engine and turn on the hazard warning lights if you are on a public area.
- Apply the parking brake and put the car in first gear (or on “P” if you have an automatic gearbox)
- Wear a reflective vest
- Move passengers in the car to a safe place, preferably with reflective vests on them
- Open and place the reflective triangle on the road, at a distance of at least 50 m from the back of the car – preferably to have two, one also for the front;
- Remove the spare tire from the trunk.
- Place the spare tire close to the place where you will have to mount it.
- Remove the tire caps (if any)
- Place the jack in the places reserved for it and make sure it is mounted correctly
- Extend the jack until it starts to lift the car on its springs. Don’t pick up the car anymore, for now.
- Loosen the wheel nuts / bolts (counterclockwise to loosen them).
Lifting the car
Extend the jack so that the car is high enough so that the wheel does not touch the ground.
Remove the screws / nuts you previously loosened, while holding the wheel in position on the hub, using your knee or heel. Last step – remove the tire from the hub completely and place it in a safe spot.
Mounting the spare wheel
Mounting the spare tire is the reverse process of removing the wheel – secure the wheel in position, by screwing the nuts / bolts on top, then tighten the screws by hand in a diagonal sequence.
Do not lubricate the screws before mounting them on the wheel, they will not tighten too well if you do that.
Very carefully, lower the car until it touches the ground, before tightening the screws to the maximum – again in a diagonal sequenc . Store the broken wheel safely in the trunk.
If the spare tire is for temporary use, there are some restrictions on use – they are usually limited to use of up to 80km / h and should be replaced with a normal wheel as soon as possible.
- Check and adjust the pressure in the new tire as soon as possible
- Make sure the nuts / bolts are tightened to the maximum
- Replace or repair the broken tire as soon as possible. You never know when bad luck strikes!