Flat Lines. How To Change a Car Tyre Safely
A car tyre must be inflated to work properly. Should you suffer a puncture, you can change the wheel concerned. Here’s how to do so in safety…
When to change a wheel becomes pretty obvious. A heavy pulling at the steering wheel and/or squirmy handling with assorted noises is usually sufficient to let you know a car tyre has deflated.
Where to undertake a tyre change may seem obvious but this isn’t necessarily so. The first and most important rule is to never, ever try to change a car tyre by a busy carriageway, be it a on a motorway hard shoulder or at the side of an A-road. Why? Quite simply, it is hugely unsafe.
So, what if you’re caught out, on a busy road? Sometimes, it’s possible to coax your car to a quieter location. Bear in mind that you’ll need to find a level, firm surface to work on. If the car tyre has deflated fully, just pull up and call out the cavalry. The breakdown service will do the rest, after your mobile phone, or a roadside phone, has done its lifesaving bit.
How to prepare
A spot of preparation makes changing a flat car tyre much easier. Pull up in your chosen spot, apply the car’s handbrake, put the car into gear (or ‘park’), switch on the hazard lights and set up the car’s warning triangle. This should be placed 45 metres (147 feet) behind the car.
The next stage in dealing with a flat car tyre is to have any passengers leave the car and stand well away from it, and from passing traffic. Then, it’s time to extract the spare wheel, jack and tools – your car’s handbook will tell you where they are to be found.
Jacking the Car
This step in the proceedings involves safety procedures, to which you must pay attention. First, you have to chock the wheel diagonally opposite to the one with the flat car tyre. No chock to hand? Then find a stone, brick or any other piece of debris that’ll do the job.
Time for your car to go up in the world. There’ll be a specific place under which the car jack must be placed. Once again, the handbook will tell you where this is. Do not improvise; only the proper jacking point will do. With the jack placed correctly, wind it up until it’s bearing enough of the car’s weight to not move.
Loosening the wheel nuts or bolts holding the wheel with the flat tyre comes next. These are always undone anticlockwise, with the wheelbrace that is in the toolkit. You may have to undo a locking wheel nut too – there’s a key device for that.
Now, wheel fastenings can be very tight. Use the wheel brace so you’ll be applying downward pressure (far less injurious if the tool slips). Loosen the fastenings first; the wheel can’t turn because it’s still on the ground.
Now, you can jack the car up. Do this steadily, until there is daylight between the flat car tyre and the roadside surface.
Changing the Wheel
Unscrew the fastenings completely one by one, removing the uppermost one last. You may need to ‘persuade’ the offending wheel to come off but be careful – over enthusiasm could cause the car to fall. For this reason, never let any part of you go between the car and the ground.
A car tyre and wheel combination can be heavy. Make sure that when lifting one, you’re on a firm footing with a straight back. Fit the spare wheel, securing it with the topmost fastening. Then, refit the remaining fastenings, tightening them only enough to seat the wheel firmly on the hub. Lower the car until the tyre is on the ground, and tighten the fastenings in a diagonal pattern. Now, you can stow the deflated wheel and tyre, put your tools away and continue your journey.
Not quite, there are a couple of post-wheel change necessities. You need to get to a tyre bay, to have the wheel tightened to a specific torque – a repair on the flat car tyre is often possible. If you need to continue on the spare, you have to be sure that the car tyre on the spare wheel you’ve used is at the correct pressure. Finally, if the spare tyre is a space saver, there’ll be limitations concerning speed and distance. The car handbook will show you what applies.