But there’s no need to feel deflated (you’re welcome).
Punctured or flat tyres can happen to any vehicle and can be mild or severe, depending on what has caused the issue and what area of the tyre has been affected. The good news is if you are prepared, there are some simple steps you can follow to change your tyre safely and get back on the road to your destination.
What do you need to change a tyre?
Most modern vehicles come equipped with the items you’ll need, which can often be found in a recessed area of the boot. These items can include, but are not necessarily limited to:
- A spare tyre
- A jack
- A wheel brace
Before you jump behind the wheel, it could be worth checking to ensure that your car carries the above and that you also have your vehicle’s manual at hand.
10 simple steps to change a car tyre
1. Pull over safely
If you suspect your tyre has gone flat, slowly pull over to the side of the road and, if possible, park a safe distance from the road itself, away from passing vehicles. If you can, also try to park in an area with a firm and level surface. Put on your hazard lights and make sure the car is in park with the handbrake on. If it’s dark, try to wear the brightest clothing you have on you.
2. Loosen wheel nuts by one turn
Take your equipment and spare tyre from the boot of your car. If you have hubcaps, remove it from the flat tyre (which is likely clipped on) and use your wheel brace to loosen each wheel nut by a full turn. Remember, turning a bolt or nut anti-clockwise will normally loosen it, whereas turning it clockwise, or to the right, will tighten it (lefty loosey, righty tighty…). Try a quick anti-clockwise jolt to loosen, or if you need more force, carefully use your foot or get your body weight behind the brace.
3. Place jack under the car
Once all the nuts are loose, look at your vehicle’s manual to find the correct point to place the jack, usually underneath the vehicle’s frame alongside the tyre that is flat.
4. Raise the car
Slowly wind the jack to raise the vehicle until there is about a 5-10cm gap between the road and your tyre.
5. Remove wheel nuts
Remove each wheel nut completely and put them in a safe place.
6. Replace flat tyre with the spare
Slowly remove the flat tyre and place it under the car (using it as a support mechanism just in case the jack gives way). Take your spare tyre and line it up with the wheel holes before placing the tyre onto the wheel hub.
7. Put wheel nuts back on
Put the wheel nuts back into place and tighten them as far as you can using your hand.
8. Lower the car and tighten wheel nuts
Remove the flat tyre from underneath the vehicle and wind the jack down until the spare tyre is taking on the vehicle’s weight. Remove the jack. Use the wheel brace to fully tighten your wheel nuts.
9. Put hubcap back on
If you have a hubcap, place it back onto the new wheel or store it safely in the boot.
10. Put away equipment and drive
Place your tools and flat tyre back into the boot in a secure place. If you’ve completed these steps correctly, and feel safe to do so, you should now be in a position to get back on the road.
If you don’t feel confident in changing a tyre yourself, consider calling a roadside assistance operator or a capable friend for help. Some car insurance providers may include roadside assistance in their comprehensive policy, or offer it as an optional extra for an increased premium. Check with your provider for more details.
If your spare tyre is a ‘space saver tyre’ (a compact tyre often with a bright yellow wheel), it is only designed to get you home or to a mechanic. They are also usually limited to a speed of approximately 80km/h and can result in reduced steering and stopping ability. It is a good idea to get a new tyre fitted as soon as possible.
If you have replaced the tyre, it would be a good idea to purchase a new one to keep in the storage compartment, and to have your wheels aligned and checked by a professional.
Keeping your tyres maintained
To help extend the life of your tyres and reduce the chances of getting a flat, there are some simple steps you can take, including:
- Rotating your tyres regularly to help even out the wear (e.g. swapping your front tyres with the back). You can usually ask your mechanic to do this when they service your vehicle.
- Regularly checking the pressure of your tyres and inflating or deflating them when necessary. Air hoses with tyre pressure gauges are usually available at most service stations. You can find the recommended tyre pressure either in your car’s manual or on a sticker within the driver’s door frame.
- Monitoring the tread of your tyres and purchasing new tyres once they are worn down. As a rule of thumb, you generally want to be able to stand a 10 cent coin in the tread with the outer band of the coin not visible.
Cover image source: mezzotint (Shutterstock)