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Don't try to change a wheel on the hard shoulder of a motorway or at the side of a road
To save space and weight, many new cars have a punture repair kit - sealant and compressor - rather than a spare wheel. If you don't have a spare it's a good idea to familiarise yourself with the kit provided so you'll know what to do if you do get a puncture.
If your car does have a spare it's a good idea to practise changing a wheel at home in the daylight when the weather's warm and dry. Then, if you do suffer a puncture you'll be able to cope more easily, even if it's dark, cold or wet.
Given a safe environment, the right tools and some basic knowledge, changing a wheel on any vehicle should be fairly straightforward. Check the handbook first as this might include vehicle specific advice.
Where the handbook and our advice appear to be in conflict, follow the advice in the handbook.
Raise the jack to lift the vehicle sufficiently so that the wheel is just clear of the ground.
Remove the slackened wheel nuts/bolts while keeping the wheel in position on the hub using a knee or toe – leave the top one until last so that both hands are free to lift the wheel away from the hub.
Fitting the spare is the reverse of the removal procedure – secure the wheel by refitting the top bolt/nut first, and tighten all the nuts by hand first in stages and in a diagonal sequence.
Don't oil the bolts/nuts before refitting them, as this will make them more likely to work lose.
Carefully lower the wheel to make contact with the ground before fully tightening the wheel nuts – again in diagonal sequence.
Stow the damaged wheel safety. Replace it in the carrier or boot well.
If the spare is a temporary-use 'skinny' spare, note any restrictions on use – they're typically limited to 50mph and should be replaced with a normal tyre as soon as possible. Some dashboard lights may come on while a space saver spare is used because systems like ABS, traction control and some automatic gearboxes can be upset by odd tyre sizes.
(1 November 2011)