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How to Change Your Car Wheel

Sometimes there are occasions where you will need to know how to change a wheel on your car. For example, I spotted that my neighbour’s van has a flat tyre on it, and so he will need to put his spare wheel on before he can drive anywhere.

Although you should be checking the condition of your tyres on a regular basis along with other basic car checks, there are going to be occasions where you might get a flat tyre which no amount of maintenance or pre-journey checks could have prevented.

I remember once driving off somewhere from home, and when I got to my destination I noticed one of my tyres was considerably lower than the others. When I took my car to a nearby tyre centre, the cause was a puncture which had occurred from driving over a screw in the road somewhere (the tyre was fine before I left home).

But there are times where you might not have much warning that something is amiss with your tyre(s), or much of a chance to rectify the problem in your own time, so for those occasions it is best to make sure that you are fully prepared for all likely eventualities.

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Preparation

In order to be equipped to deal with any tyre-related incidents, you should study your car’s owners manual so that you are familiar of the jacking points on the car.

At a bare minimum, you should also have a wheel jack (cars are normally supplied with scissor-style jacks), a wheel brace to remove the nuts (including any locking wheel nuts for alloy wheels), and of course a spare wheel.

You should regularly check the air pressure in your spare wheel, as a spare wheel with a flat tyre is going to be pretty useless if you suddenly have a puncture and need to change your wheel for the spare whilst your car is sat on the roadside!

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Other items you should consider keeping in your car include a torch (LED torches are brightest and last a long time), a high-visibility jacket, gloves, a knife for removing cable ties if your wheel trims are fixed to your wheels this way, a wheel chock and something to kneel on so that you don’t get your clothes dirty.

Precautions

There are some precautions that you must observe:

  • Don’t change your wheel on a motorway hard shoulder. call your breakdown service instead and wait for them behind the crash barriers, not in your car;

  • Make sure the ground is level and that the car is not parked on gravel or loose soil;

  • Don’t change your wheel when there are people inside the car;

  • Don’t do anything underneath the car when it is only supported by your jack.

Steps for changing your spare wheel

Here is what you need to do in order to change your wheel and fit your spare on:

  1. Make sure that you are in a safe and level area to change your wheel. If you aren’t, call your breakdown service to come out and help you;

  2. Get your tyre equipment and spare wheel out from the boot of your car and put them out of the way of traffic;

  3. Loosen the nuts on your wheel using your wheel brace, but don’t remove them completely. If you have alloy wheels, you will need to use your locking wheel nut adapter to remove the locking wheel nut. If you don’t have alloy wheels, remove any wheel trim that is attached to the wheel;

  4. Put your wheel chock in front of the wheel diagonally opposite to the wheel you are changing;

  5. Offer up the jack to the nearest jacking point by your wheel and start to raise it slowly, making sure that it is attaching itself snugly to the bottom of your car. If there is any play, undo it slightly and reposition it;

  6. Once your car is jacked up high enough so that there is a gap of 2 to 3 inches underneath the tyre, completely remove your wheel nuts (diagonally) and gently remove your wheel. You may have to rock the wheel slightly to get it off, again you should do this gently – I can’t stress this enough!

  7. Offer up your spare wheel to the hub, align the wheel nut holes and then fit the nuts on by hand – again, diagonally;

  8. Once your wheel nuts are hand tight and there is little to no play in the wheel, lower the car to the ground by lowering your jack;

  9. Now that your car is on the ground, use your wheel brace to tighten up the wheel nuts and then put your old wheel and tyre equipment in the boot of the car.

As you can see, it is a pretty straightforward affair to change the wheel on a car. Note that most cars come with “space saver” wheels, which means that you are limited to speeds of up to 50 mph. Regardless of what spare wheel you have, you should get your tyre repaired or replaced as soon as possible so that you can have the wheel put back onto your car.

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