How to change a flat tyre

Easy step-by-step guide to changing a tyre

We're always ready to help you if you get a puncture. But if you’d like to change the wheel yourself, here’s a  general step-by-step guide of how to replace a flat tyre.

Make sure you check the manufacturer’s instructions in your vehicle handbook for details specific to your car.

If you've got a new car, it's quite likely you'll have a tyre puncture repair kit in the car rather than a spare wheel. If that’s the case, head over to our guide on how to repair a flat tyre with a kit.

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What you’ll need:

  • Spare wheel - This needs to have a legal, inflated tyre. Check your spare regularly to make sure it’s fully-inflated and in good working order.
  • Car handbook - It’ll have instructions specific to your vehicle, like where to attach the jack.
  • A jack - Ideally the manufacturer’s jack that’s designed for your car.
  • Wheel brace or wrench - Make sure this fits the wheel nuts or bolts.
  • Locking wheel nut key - If your car has locking nuts or bolts, you (or a mechanic) will need the key to undo them. 
  • Alignment tool - Some cars with wheel bolts come with an alignment tool to help you fit the wheel.
  • Wheel chocks or wedges – These should be in the kit with your spare wheel. If not, use blocks of wood or similar.
  • Gloves – It’s a dirty job and there’s a risk of cutting yourself, especially if your old tyre is badly damaged.

It’s also good to have a reflective jacket, a torch and something to kneel on. Whether you change the wheel yourself or call a mechanic, you’ll need to keep these tools in your car in case of emergencies.

Before you start

  • Don’t try to change a tyre on a motorway hard shoulder or at the side of the road.
  • Turn off the road or pull over in a safe place away from traffic.
  • Park on hard, level ground. Don’t try to change the wheel on an incline, gravel or soft ground.

Step 1 - Get your car ready

If you’ve got all the tools you need for the job, you can get your car ready:

  • Switch off your engine.
  • Turn on your hazard lights.
  • Put the handbrake on and put the vehicle into first gear, or
  • Put it in park if you’re driving an automatic.
  • Make sure all passengers are out of the car and in a safe place away from traffic.
  • Take all the tools you need out of the car, including the spare wheel.
  • Put chocks in front of and behind the wheel that’s diagonally opposite the one you’re replacing.

Step 2 - Loosen the wheel nuts

Before you jack your car up, check that you can undo the wheel nuts or bolts. If they’re too tight, you’ll need to call us out.

  • Start by using the locking key (if your car has locking wheel nuts).
  • Next, take the wheel brace or wrench to start to loosen the nuts.
  • Don’t use your feet or try to extend the wheel brace.
  • The nuts on most cars will loosen when you turn anti-clockwise. Remember: righty tighty, lefty loosey.
  • Only loosen the nuts slightly and then stop.

Step 3 - Lift up the vehicle with the jack

Next, you’ll need to get the vehicle up on the jack. 

  • Find the jacking point nearest to the wheel you need to change. It will be marked, usually with an arrow or by a reinforcing pad.
  • Sweep away any stones or debris.
  • Wind the jack out so it fits into the jacking point and the flat foot of the jack touches the ground.
  • Carefully continue to wind the jack until the wheel is off the ground. Be careful not to scrape your knuckles on the ground.
  • Keep checking to make sure the jack has stayed straight and parallel. If not, lower it and try again.
  • Raise the car high enough to get the inflated tyre on as this will be bigger than the flat tyre.

Step 4 - Take off the punctured wheel

Once the car’s jacked up, you can undo the wheel nuts and take the wheel off.

  • Undo the wheel nuts and set them aside on a clean surface.
  • They may have a right or wrong way around, so take note when removing them.
  • The wheel should now lift away from the hub. It may be heavy, so be careful.
  • If the wheel’s stuck, it might need some persuasion to come off.
  • If it doesn’t come off fairly easily, replace the wheel nuts and call for assistance as it could be dangerous to proceed.

Step 5 - Fit the spare wheel

When the wheel with the puncture's off, you can put on your spare wheel.

  • If your spare wheel has nuts and studs, it should slide on easily.
  • If the wheel has bolts, you’ll need to line up the holes using the alignment tool.
  • Screw the tool into the top hole and it’ll act as a guide to line up all the holes.
  • Once all the other bolts are in, remove the alignment tool and put in the last bolt.
  • Tighten all the nuts or bolts gently with the wheel brace.
  • Use the jack to lower the car until it makes firm contact with the ground.
  • Fully tighten the nuts or bolts in a diagonal pattern.
  • Remove the jack and put all your tools back in their proper place in your car.

Remember: If you have a temporary-use skinny spare, you’ll need to check any restrictions on using it. Usually, you can only travel up to 50mph and you’ll need to replace it with a normal tyre as soon as you can.

Step 6 - Go to a garage or dealer

After you’ve changed your wheel, go to a dealer or a garage as soon as you can.

If you used a temporary skinny spare:

  • Ask the garage or dealer to remove the skinny spare and fit a replacement. 

If you used a spare wheel:

  • Have the pressure in the spare tyre checked.
  • Get your wheel nuts tightened properly.
  • Replace or repair the damaged tyre so you still have a spare.

Read our guide to breakdown cover to find out how we can help if you have car trouble.

If your tyre has been damaged by a pothole, find out how you may be able to claim for pothole damage.

We provide 24/7 roadside assistance.

How to avoid a flat tyre

It’s not always possible to avoid getting a flat tyre. But there are a few simple steps you can take to make changing a tyre. 

  • Make sure your tyres are in a safe and legal condition.
  • If you have a spare wheel, check it regularly to make sure it’s fully inflated.
  • Keep the right kit in your car to change a tyre.
  • Learn how to use the tools you’ll need and find out where your car’s jacking points are.

By planning ahead, it’ll make sure you have everything you need and that you’ll know how to use it. 

If your tyre does burst while you're driving, keep a firm grip on the steering and slow down gently, avoiding harsh braking. Keep driving, slowly, and find a safe place to stop.

Published: 29 March 2016 | Updated: 26 May 2020 | Author: The AA

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