A Step-By-Step Guide to Changing Car Tyres Yourself

 

Are you someone who is trying to be self-sufficient when it comes to general vehicle maintenance? If yes, then changing car tyres is one of the first things you should know. Regardless, learning to change tyres is also an important life skill. There are a few reasons why you should know how to change a tyre,

  • You are stranded with a flat tyre in a no service area

  • You are in a dangerous situation where waiting for help is not an option, or

  • A flat tyre is putting your long-planned trip in jeopardy

So, in this blog post, we do a step-by-step explainer for changing car tyres yourself, both at home and on the roadside.

Gear needed for changing a tyre

Changing a car tyre is not rocket science and you can make do with a few basic tools to perform the task.

  • Car jack: A tool that is shipped with the car and is usually found in the spare wheel well in your car’s boot

  • Lug Wrench: Also found with the car jack or in a separate 

  • Spare tyre: Of course, a properly inflated spare tyre will be needed to replace the flat, and

  • Probably the owner’s manual (just in case)

Additionally, you can also include a few other tools that may come handy during a tyre change,

  • A flashlight

  • Wheel wedges

  • Reflective warning signs

  • Canned air, and

  • Safety gloves

 

Stopping the car to change tyre a flat tyre

Once you detect a flat, ease down the accelerator, put your hazard lights on, and look for an even surface away from the oncoming traffic. Slow down the car in case you are on a congested motorway or hilly terrain, and let others pass by.

Once you stop, make sure the area is flat and firm. Soft dirt and grassy surfaces tend to sink under the weight of the vehicle when the jack is set. Turn off the car and engage the parking brake (hand brake).

Damaged or flat tyre change: Step-by-step:

  1. Place all the tools (usually found in the boot) in order and get the spare wheel out.

  2. Look for jack placement markings on your car’s running board (the metal strip below the doors). If you cannot spot one, try looking underside. The markings are usually in form of small dimples in the metal.

  3. Place the jack, aligning the contours to match the marking and lift the car ever so slightly. If the jack does not sink into the earth, you are good. But do not lift the car yet.

  4. First, remove the hubcap (the plastic cover at the centre of the wheel) and loosen up the lug nuts a bit. It makes it easier to remove the lugs later on.

  5. Now lift the car by cranking the jack. 

  6. Start removing the lug nuts using the lug wrench in counter clockwise direction.

  7. Take off the tyre. Grab the tyre firmly and pull outwards to take it off the axle.

  8. Put on the spare tyre. Line up the spare tyre against the lug bolts and push inwards.

  9. Put the lug nuts back on and tighten them gently.

  10. Slowly crank down the jack and let the vehicle rest on the surface.

  11. Tighten the lug nuts, ensuring there is no more purchase for the lug wrench.

  12. Fix the hubcap back on the wheel and you are done.

Now, you can put back the tools and the damaged tyres in the boot and get back on road. However, there are a few extra tips for safety and making the tyre change easier just in case the process does not go as smoothly as planned.

Tips to make tyre change easier

  • Lug nuts have a way of rolling away when taken off. Make sure you place them securely on the ground to avoid losing one in the dirt or grass. You can also use the hubcap to store the lug nuts while changing tyres.

  • Placing a wheel wedge is a good idea, especially if you are changing tyres on an inclined surface. You can use regular bricks or rocks to accomplish the same.

  • Set down the flat tyre on its side to stop it from rolling away. It’s also a good idea to push the tyre under the car a bit, just in case there is a jack failure.

  • Do not spin the unsecured spare tyre after placing it on the lug bolts. Put on the lug nuts and follow the step-by-step above.

  • Once the jack is cranked down, you can ensure that the lug nuts are as tight as they can be, by stepping on the lug wrench. Do not jump on it, simply use your body’s force to push down the wrench till it stops moving.

  • Having a tyre pressure monitor handy is also a good idea. It will allow you to check the spare tyre’s pressure and take corrective steps if needed. The aforementioned canned air can come in handy here.

  • In case you have an undersized spare, which is mostly the case these days, do not drive over the recommended speed limits. You can learn more about reading tyre markings in our blog here.

Finally, get your main tyre repaired or replaced as soon as you can instead of continuing driving the spare wheel. More importantly, make sure that the spare wheel is in good condition when you put it back in the boot.

Some common questions people ask about car tyre change

How long does it take to change a flat tyre?

Under ideal conditions, changing a car tyre is not a time taking process. It can be done within 15 to 20 minutes by self and even faster by a professional. In fact, the William’s Formula 1 team changed a set of four tyres in mere 1.92 seconds during the European Grand Prix in 2021.

What is the cost of a tyre change?

It will depend on your location and the type of change needed. For e.g., if it’s a simple matter of removing the damaged tyre and putting on the spare, you can do it by yourself without any cost. But the same can cost ₹100-200, including the puncture repair, if done by a professional tyre shop. If the tyre is damaged and needs complete replacement, the cost can go into thousands as well.

What to do if the punctured tyre does not come off the axle?

It generally happens when the wheel is stuck to the hub due to rust. In that case, try putting a lubricant or use a small hammer to loosen up the wheel.

 

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