How to safely change a wheel

Our step-by-step guide to getting going again

Of course we can help you with a flat tyre, but if you fancy being a bit more independent here’s how to have a go yourself.

These days there’s a good chance you’ll have a puncture repair kit rather than a spare wheel. If this is the case then familiarise yourself with your kit, so you’ll know what to do if you do get a puncture.

For your own safety:

  • Don’t change your wheel on the hard shoulder of a motorway or at the side of a road. Turn off or pull over well away from the traffic and call us for help on 0800 88 77 66
  • Don’t change your wheel on soft, loose or uneven ground
  • Don’t change your wheel with passengers inside the vehicle. Move everyone to a safe place that’s well away from the vehicle and road
  • Don’t work under your vehicle while it’s raised on a jack
  • Don’t use the jack anywhere other than at the correct jacking points. You’ll find these listed in your handbook. Attaching the jack in the wrong place can cause damage to your vehicle and could result in it collapsing

Before you start changing or repairing your tyre, make sure you’ve read your vehicle’s handbook. If our advice is different to what’s in it, always follow your handbook.

What you’ll need:

  • Your handbook, which shows you where to attach the jack
  • Your spare wheel – make sure it’s got enough tread and is properly inflated
  • Your vehicle jack
  • A wheel wrench with extension bar and locking wheel-nut adaptor (if fitted)
  • At least one wheel chock – something to stop your car from rolling when it’s up on the jack
  • Gloves – there’s a good chance your wheel/tyre will be dirty
  • Something to kneel on, like an old towel – the ground will be dirty too
  • A sharp knife or cutters to remove any cable ties used to hold your wheel trims in place
  • A torch
  • A reflective jacket and strong, sensible shoes for your own safety

Before you lift your vehicle:

  • Plan ahead – you don’t want your vehicle to be raised for longer than it has to be
  • Switch off your engine and turn on your hazard lights
  • Apply the handbrake and engage first gear (or ‘P’ if you’re driving an automatic)
  • Put your chock under the wheel diagonally opposite the one you’re replacing
  • Remove your spare wheel from the boot well/carrier. If the carrier is under your vehicle, it might be a bit rusty and difficult to move
  • Lay your spare on the ground. Choose a spot that will be convenient for fitting
  • Remove your wheel trim (if fitted) – you may have to cut cable ties and/or lever the trim off
  • Place the jack in the lifting point closest to the wheel you’re changing
  • Make sure the jack head engages properly (as shown in your handbook) and extend the jack until it just starts to lift the vehicle on its springs. Don’t lift your vehicle any further yet
  • Loosen the wheel nuts (most need to be twisted anticlockwise) using the vehicle’s wheel wrench and locking wheel-nut adapter if needed. There might be protective covers over the locking wheel nuts
  • Keep your back straight and body weight evenly distributed on both feet. Apply effort downwards in a controlled way, so that when the nut finally ‘gives’ you won’t lose your balance

Flat tyre no van

Lifting the vehicle:

  • Raise the jack until the wheel is just off the ground
  • Remove the loose wheel nuts while keeping the wheel in position with your knee or foot
  • Leave the top one until last, so you can use both hands to lift the wheel away from the hub

When fitting the spare:

  • You’re basically following the removal method in reverse
  • Secure the wheel by loosely refitting the top wheel nut first
  • Tighten the remaining wheel nuts by hand, firstly in stages and in a diagonal sequence
  • Don’t oil the wheel nuts before refitting them, since this will make them more likely to work loose
  • Lower the jack carefully until the wheel just touches the ground and won’t turn
  • Now tighten the wheel nuts fully with the wheel wrench, again in a diagonal sequence
  • Put the damaged wheel in the boot well or carrier

Don’t forget:

If your spare wheel is a temporary-use ‘skinny’ spare, make sure you check if there are any restrictions on using it. Usually, you can only travel up to 50mph on a skinny spare, and you’ll need to replace it with a normal tyre as soon as you can.

You might see some of your dashboard lights come on as systems like ABS, traction control and some automatic gearboxes don’t like odd tyre sizes.

As soon as you can get to a dealer or a garage, make sure you:

  • Have the pressure in the spare tyre checked
  • Get your wheel nuts tightened properly
  • Replace or repair the damaged tyre