How to Change a Wheel
Now that we’ve covered what you will need to change a wheel we’re going to walk you through the process step by step.
The first thing you will need to do is prepare the vehicle to change one of the wheels.
If you notice the vehicle has a flat tyre while parked in a safe location then this should be relatively simple, however we know this is not always the case. If you are driving you should try to pull off the road in a safe location and where you will not be vulnerable to oncoming traffic whilst changing the tyre.
You should then firmly apply the handbrake, turn off the engine and put your hazards on. If the vehicle is obstructing the road at all then you should also put your warning triangle out to alert oncoming traffic of the hazard.
If the wheel that needs changing is on the driver’s side of the vehicle then this will be more dangerous to change as you are more likely to be in the road yourself, and if possible we would advise pulling entirely off the road to change this.
Please note you should never attempt to change a tyre on the hard shoulder of a motorway. Due to the volume and speed of traffic it is not safe to do so and the Highway Code states not to do so.
You and any passengers should then leave the vehicle, standing in a safe location, and wearing a hi-vis where possible. If you have any heavy cargo and it is safe to do so, then you might also want to remove this from the car to help reduce the weight you need to jack up.
Next, you will want to get out all your required equipment and put it in a safe location where you can easily reach it when needed and it does not cause a further obstacle to any other road users.
Most vehicles will have the spare wheel, jack, wrench and other tools in a safe location under the boot liner.
If you have not already put a hi-vis jacket on then we recommend doing so at this point.
If you have wheel chocks and want to do them then you should place them now that you and the vehicle are prepared.
Position them behind the wheel that is diagonal to the flat tyre. For example, if you are changing the front right tyre then the block should be behind the rear left tyre.
If you have a plastic wheel trim then you may need to remove this so that you can remove the wheel. It will become pretty clear if this is needed for your vehicle when you go to remove the tyre.
You’ll then need to loosen the nuts / bolts securing the wheel. First loosening the locking nut / bolt and then the remainder of them and only loosen them enough until you can turn them by hand rather than using the wrench.
We recommend loosening them but not fully removing them as the vehicle is still on the ground.
Once the nuts / bolts are loosened you will then need to jack the car up before fully removing it.
You will need to place the jack at a safe point on the vehicle frame. Most modern cars will now have markers on their lower side showing where to place the jack for each wheel. There will sometimes be a simple indented triangle.
Otherwise, the vehicle handbook or manufacturer’s website can show you the correct location to place it.
When the jack is in the correct place you will need to raise it until the tyre is around 10 to 15 cm off the ground.
Once the wheel is off the ground you will then need to remove the nuts / bolts from the wheel. You’ll want to put these in a safe but accessible location as you will need them to secure the spare wheel once it’s on.
Then you can remove the wheel. To do this you should carefully slide it forward, which it should do fairly easily though if the wheel is stuck it might need a little more persuasion.
If you are not able to remove the wheel without too much force then it might be best to resecure the wheel and call for professional help as you do not want to damage the vehicle further by trying to force it off.
The next step is to place your spare wheel onto the vehicle. Depending on whether your wheels are secured with nuts or bolts you will need to slide it onto either the wheel nut slots or protruding hub bolts.
Once the wheel is in place you’ll then need to retrieve the nuts / bolts you put in a safe location and then tighten these by hand. Just as you did when taking the wheel off the vehicle you should only tighten these as much as you can by hand and not fully secure them.
You should then lower the jack until the wheel is resting on the ground, but not all the way down as the weight could cause the wheel to shift before you’ve fully secured it. You will then want to fully secure the wheel using the wrench and then the locking key on the locking nut to do so.
When you are confident that the nuts / bolts have been tightened as much as possible then you should lower the jack the rest of the way and remove it from your vehicle.
If you have a tyre pressure gage in your vehicle then you might want to check the pressure of the tyre now it is on the car. If not, you might want to stop at the next service station to check it is at the correct level.
Once you’ve completed these ten steps then you can place your tools, damaged wheel, warning triangle and any cargo you unloaded back into the vehicle and proceed with your journey.
It is important to note that it might not always be safe for you to change the tyre yourself. We’ve already mentioned above that it’s not safe to do so on the motorway but it might also not be safe to change the tyre on other busy roads, if you have to put yourself in an unsafe position on the road when changing the vehicle or any other situation that puts you or others in danger.
Replacing a Spare Tyre
We recommend taking your vehicle to a garage to have the damaged tyre replaced as soon as possible so that you are not using the spare for too long.
Many spare tyres have restrictions on the distance they can travel or a maximum speed you can safely drive with it on. You should check if your spare tyre has any restrictions and follow these.