It’s a funny old world isn’t it? One where millions upon millions of people use a car on a daily basis, yet they have absolutely no idea how to change a tire. It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? But then again, it’s a lot easier to simply sit in the car, dial AA and wait for the cavalry to arrive, than it is to get out, take a wheel off and replace it with the spare. But, what happens if AA is too far away? What happens if your phone is dead? What happens when you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere, far away from the closest AA man or cell phone signal, and you have a flat tire? Everybody, and I do mean everybody, should know how to change a tire, regardless of age, size or gender. In fact, such was my father’s firm belief that everybody should be able to change a tire, that he made all his children, my sister and his wife included, demonstrate their tyre changing abilities before anybody was able to get their license.
In order to educate you in the entire tyre changing process, I have compiled this quick “how to change a tyre” list so that, should you ever find yourself at the wrong end of a flat tyre, you’ll be able to change it yourself.
- When changing a tyre, please make sure your car is parked on a hard, level surface. Soft sand or gravel could make the jack slip and your car could end up with one brake calliper supporting the weight of the entire car, not a good thing, especially if you want to stop in the future. Also, please make sure the car is either in first gear or reverse and a few rocks or stones are placed behind the wheel to make sure it doesn’t roll away and fall off the jack.
- After you’ve made sure your car is secure, you’ll need to open the boot. 99% of cars have stored the jack in the boot and the spare tyre in or underneath the boot, it all depends on the car. Once you’ve retrieved the jack, place it on the chassis (DO NOT PLACE IT ON ANYTHING BUT THE CHASSIS) there have been instances where people have tried to jack up their car, using nothing but the side skirts (the flimsy pieces of plastic used to decorate the car) as support and as such, have had the whole thing end in tragedy. Before you jack the car up, loosen the bolts a little because when the car is in the air, it’ll be a lot harder as the wheel will move with every turn.
- Now it’s time to raise the car. But, before you simply crank the jack and raise it 50 meter in the air, give a final check to make sure the jack is secure, both on the car’s chassis and on the ground. When you’re sure it is, crank it slowly so the jack can position itself accordingly and provide a safe hold for the car. You can now proceed to loosen the nuts. If you have the theft proof locking lug nuts, you have to retrieve the special key that comes with it to loosen the nuts.
- When the nuts have been undone, you’ll be able to remove the tire. Now don’t simply place it alongside the car or throw it to the side, place it under the car as extra insurance should the jack fail. The wheel will be able to absorb all the damage that would have been otherwise aimed at your brake calliper.
- Retrieve the spare wheel, either from a cove in the boot, or under the car in a special rack. The jack kit should provide you with a spanner or an attachment that will allow you to unwind the spare wheel, if it is to be found on the underside of your car. You’ll have to look around the boot to find the necessary nut. Once you’ve found the spare tyre, it’ll be time to fit it to the car. Please make sure it is on properly and when you’re reattaching the lug nuts, do so in a star pattern. Top to bottom, left to right so that the wheel tightens evenly.
- Once the lug nuts have been tightened as much as possible, you can then lower the car, slowly and very carefully. Once you’re satisfied that the wheel is on properly, you can give the nut’s a final tighten to make sure they are secure. You should be careful about tightening them too much as this could cause some damage to the nut’s and could also hamper you next time you need to change the tire.
- If you have a proper, full size spare tyre, you’ll be able to drive at normal speeds, if the tyre is a good quality one and has been pumped up properly. If, however, your car is one that comes with what’s known as a doughnut, please be careful as these tyres are a lot smaller and thinner than normal ones and can only go a certain distance at a certain speed.
Something Every Driver Should Know
Hopefully, should you get stuck on the side of the road, you’ll be able to change your tire. It really is a skill that every car driver and owner should know. It’s one of those, “rather be safe than sorry” matters, because you just never know when you might need to change a tire and, if the situation arises, where you’re stuck on a lonely road at the middle of the night, it’ll be a lot quicker to change the tyre than it would be to wait for a tow truck. So please, be careful. Learn how to change a tire yourself.