Best Way to Change a Car Tire

A puncture is the most likely ‘breakdown’, not least because it is something that afflicts all cars regardless of how new or well-maintained they are.

To change a car tire you must be on firm, fairly level ground or the jack may slip at the wrong moment.

The tire-changing mistake most people make is to start jacking it up first, so let’s start at the beginning.

change car tire Best Way to Change a Car Tire

  1. If you don’t know where the car’s jacking points are, check the handbook. These are areas of the body that have been shaped or reinforced to take the jack and the stresses of lifting the car.
  2. Now, apply the handbrake and put a manual gearbox in gear or an automatic in ‘park’ to eliminate the risk of it rolling. Using the gearbox to help hold it steady is especially important when lifting one of the wheels on which the handbrake works, which is usually at the back (although a few front-wheel drive cars have handbrakes on the front, notably older Saabs and Citroens).
  3. Get the tools and spare wheel out and if your car has alloy wheels with locking wheel nuts, you’ll need the key if it is not kept with the wheel brace.
  4. Remove the wheel trim, if there is one. There may be a special hook tool for this in the toolkit. With locking wheel nuts there is often a chromed cap that is removed with a tool that usually looks like a plastic socket spanner.
  5. Now use the wheel brace to loosen all the nuts so they are finger tight. By doing this before you jack the car up, you can exert force without fear of rocking the car off the jack or having the wheel turn instead of the nut. Wheel nuts usually undo anticlockwise.
  6. Now jack the car up, making sure that the jack isn’t slipping as the car’s weight is taken up. Raise the wheel more than is needed to remove the flat tyre because the inflated one is taller.
  7. Completely remove the wheel nuts, putting them somewhere safe and clean, like onto the tool pouch or an upturned wheel trim.
  8. Lift the wheel off, remembering it will be dirty and heavy, especially if it is a steel wheel. A wheel can get stuck to the hub by corrosion. Sometimes it is enough to lever it with the wheel brace, though don’t lever against the shiny brake disc or you may scar the disc badly enough to need replacing. Also remember that alloy wheels are softer than the steel brace so can be damaged by it. If leverage isn’t possible or doesn’t work, try putting the wheel nuts back on so they are not quite touching the wheel, then lower it back to the ground. Often the car’s weight is enough to loosen it. If not you can try rocking it, but if this fails you need help from your breakdown organization.
  9. Lift the spare wheel onto the hub aligning the holes in the wheel with the threaded studs or holes in the hub. Hold the wheel against the hub with your hand or foot and put the nuts on finger tight.
  10. Lower the wheel to the ground and fully tighten the nuts in diagonal pairs to evenly pull the wheel onto the hub. Do not apply excessive force or you may damage the threads or even stretch the studs that the nuts screw onto. Most people finish off by going once round the nuts in order, checking their tightness because a nut can feel tight until its diagonally opposite number pulls the wheel on flat. You should recheck the nuts for tightness after about 30 miles. Replace any wheel trims, then properly stow tools and the wheel you removed. If you have a pressure gauge, check the tyre’s pressure or do it at a garage soon afterwards, unless you have checked it recently.

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