It's every driver's worst nightmare – getting a puncture when miles away from home. If you have a roadside recovery policy, you're best advised to call your provider and wait somewhere safe for assistance. However, if you're not covered for emergency breakdowns, you'll need to know how to stay safe when changing your tyre yourself.
Here's a guide to changing a flat tyre safely.
Where to stop
Unless your tyre has shredded completely, you'll be able to limp your vehicle to a safe location to pull over, ideally well away from fast-moving traffic.
If it's dark, try to find a place to park in a well-lit area or at least underneath a street light. Don't park on a bend as this makes it very difficult for oncoming traffic to see you, and you will also be presenting a hazard to vehicles that have to overtake you.
You should ideally park your car on a flat piece of ground; jacking up your car on a hill can be very dangerous as it makes the car unstable. Put your car in gear and ensure that the handbrake is fully applied so that the car won't move when you jack it up. Turn on your hazard lights.
Changing the tyre
- First of all, take the jack and wheel brace out of the boot, together with the spare wheel. Put everything you need to change the wheel as close to the flat as you can.
- If the wheel has a hubcap, remove it to expose the wheel nuts. Loosen the nuts with a wheel brace, standing on the brace if necessary to loosen any that have been over-tightened.
- Jack-up the vehicle to a height of about 12 centimetres, making sure that you put the jack in the right place on the car's body so that it is secure and stable.
- Take off each wheel nut, placing each one inside the upturned hubcap or in your pocket so that you don't lose any.
- Pull the wheel towards you and remove it, leaving the wheel nut posts exposed.
- Place the spare wheel over the wheel nut posts and push the wheel on as far as it will go.
- Hand-tighten the wheel nuts so that they are secure but not tight. Lower the car back down to the ground and fully tighten the wheel nuts by using the wheel brace.
- Remove the jack from the car chassis.
- Now replace everything in the boot of your car, together with the flat tyre.
Even if you're confident in how to change a flat tyre, you could still find yourself in trouble if any of the wheel nuts are stuck fast or if the jack is faulty. For your own peace of mind, why not have a chat with a reputable roadside services provider so that you know you're covered in case of problems.