It can be pretty unnerving the first time that your journey is interrupted by a flat tyre or puncture. Being stuck at the side of the road with a limping car and a car jack that you've never even looked at, let alone used, is stressful for even the most seasoned road users; for learner drivers and the newly-qualified, it's a full-blown nightmare.
Luckily, changing a flat tyre is a relatively simple procedure that can be carried out quite quickly once you know what you're doing.(Alternatively, you could call your breakdown cover provider.)
How to change a flat tyre in 11 easy steps
1) Assess your location
Get the vehicle to a place of safety before attempting to change the wheel. If you have to move the vehicle, do so very slowly to avoid further damage to the tyre or wheel trim.
Consider if the ground is stable and flat, otherwise, make sure you secure the vehicle by applying the parking brake and using chocks if available. If you can't get the car off the road, use a warning triangle to warn other road users but never on a motorway.
2) Locate your spare wheel and related accessories
The spare wheel, wheel brace and jack will generally be in the boot and can sometimes be found under the boot carpet. Some cars have full size spare wheels similar to what is already on the vehicle or space saver wheels that are generally narrower and therefore restricted to the speed that can be driven. Commonly, new cars do not come with a spare wheel and will come with puncture repair kits. If you don't have a spare wheel, make sure you're familiar with how your car's puncture repair kit works.
3) Remove the wheel trims
The wheel trims are the plastic covers that make your wheels look more presentable. If you have alloy wheels, you won't have wheel trims but you might have covers hiding the wheel nuts and possibly a special locking wheel nut.
Either way, remove any visible covers or trims to expose the wheel nuts.
4) Loosen the wheel nuts
Before you lift your car using the jack, loosen the wheel nuts of the flat tyre. Your wheel brace (the large spanner/wrench/socket-type thing found with your spare wheel) should be used for this. Simply loosen the nuts slightly (no more than one full turn). You may find that they're a little bit stiff; don't be afraid to use a bit of sensibly applied brute force to get things started. At this point, make sure that any passengers are out of the vehicle.
5) Apply handbrake and jack up the car
Apply and double-check the handbrake and then find your car's jacking points. It will be identified in the users manual. If you don't have your manual, look for reinforced-looking areas near the front or back wheels on your car's frame, but be aware that jacking a car from the wrong point can be dangerous and can damage your vehicle. Once the car is jacked up, NEVER put your body underneath the vehicle, NEVER start the engine and NEVER allow any passengers to get back into the car.
6) Remove the wheel
Remove the wheel nuts (loosened from step 4) and place them in a safe place. Once you've got the nuts placed somewhere safe, remove the wheel. It would be sensible to lay the wheel thats been removed under the vehicle in case the jack fails to prevent the car hitting the road.
7) Replace the wheel
Put on the spare wheel. You might need to jack the car up slightly more to make room for the fully-inflated spare wheel. This stage can sometimes be a bit difficult; be patient and don't force it.
8) Replace the nuts
Replace your wheel nuts diagonally so that the wheel rests evenly. Tighten them up with your hands first, then use the wheel brace to secure them (don't over-do it, you'll be tightening up again in the next step). If you've lost a nut while changing the wheel, don't worry, you can manage temporarily with three if you drive carefully. If you've lost more than one, borrow one from another wheel temporarily.
9) Lower the jack
Before lowering your vehicle to the ground, remove the discarded wheel from under the vehicle and continue to tighten up the wheel nuts using the wheel brace until they're good and tight.
10) Replace your wheel trim
Replace your wheel trims by clipping them into place and then tapping them until secure.
11) Tidy up
Pack away your flat tyre, wheel brace and related gear, including locking wheel nut.