Our breakdown cover service is always ready to help with a flat tyre if you get a puncture, but if you'd like to know how to change a tyre yourself, we've put together a simple step-by-step guide below.
If you're attempting to change a tyre yourself, make sure your car is in a safe place to do so, that you have all the required tools, and that you're able to carry it out safely. If you don't feel comfortable, you can always call us. Use our guide below for all the info you'll need.
Make sure you check the manufacturer’s instructions in your vehicle handbook for details specific to your car.
If you've got a newer model of car, it's possible you'll have a flat tyre repair kit in the car rather than a spare wheel. If that’s the case, head over to our guide on how to repair a flat tyre with a kit. Your car may be equipped with a space-saver wheel and tyre. These are designed for temporary use and usually have a maximum speed restriction, which should be displayed on a sticker on the wheel. If you get a puncture and fit a space-saver wheel, you'll need to get the punctured tyre repaired or replaced as soon as possible, and have it re-fitted.
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Can you change a tyre yourself?
We don’t recommend that anyone change a tyre themselves unless they’ve been trained to a strong level of competency. Attempting to change a tyre on your own, without any training, could lead to safety issues. If changing a tyre, always make sure your car is in a safe space (ideally stored inside a garage away from other road users) and that you have the necessary tools to carry it out. If in doubt, call us and we can assist.
What you’ll need to change a tyre:
Before collecting everything you need, we would not recommend you attempt to change your tyre yourself, as it is quite a risky procedure. It may be a better option to call for a professional to help.
It’s also good to have a reflective jacket, a torch and something to kneel on when carrying out a tyre change. Whether you already know how to change a tyre yourself or call a mechanic, you’ll need to keep these tools in your car in case of emergencies.
Before you start
These are some things to bear in mind should you feel confident enough in changing your own tyre:
- Don’t try to change a tyre on a motorway hard shoulder or at the side of the road.
- Turn off the road or pull over in a safe place away from traffic.
- Park on hard, level ground. Don’t try to change the wheel on an incline, gravel or soft ground.
- Turn on your hazard lights.
- Wear a reflective jacket and use warning triangles, if you have them.
- Don’t change your tyre by the side of a busy road (sufficient space is needed and you don’t want to risk causing obstruction or hazards to passing vehicles).
- Don’t change a tyre on uneven or loose ground (you need your vehicle to remain stable and steady when changing a tyre).
- Don’t get underneath the vehicle (While using the jack to raise your vehicle off the ground, do not take a chance by getting underneath the vehicle to carry out checks – this is potentially dangerous if your jack is insecure).
- Don’t change a tyre while passengers are still in the car (make sure your car is clear of any passengers before raising it with the jack).
- Switch off your engine.
- Turn on your hazard lights.
- Put the handbrake on and put the vehicle into first gear, or
- Put it in park if you’re driving an automatic.
- Make sure all passengers are out of the car and in a safe place away from traffic.
- Spare wheel – depending on the vehicle, this may be stowed underneath. Check your handbook for instructions on how to remove it safely. Remember, wheels and tyres are heavy, so observe proper manual handling and if possible get help with the lifting.
- Chocks or wedges
- Car handbook
- A jack
- Axle stand
- Wheel brace or wrench
- Locking wheel nut key
- Alignment tool
- Start by using the locking key (if your car has locking wheel nuts).
- Next, take the wheel brace or wrench to start to loosen the nuts.
- Don’t use your feet or try to extend the wheel brace.
- The nuts on most cars will loosen when you turn anti-clockwise. Remember: righty tighty, lefty loosey.
- Only loosen the nuts slightly and then stop.
- Find the jacking point nearest to the wheel you need to change. It will be marked, usually with an arrow or by a reinforcing pad.
- Sweep away any stones or debris.
- Wind the jack out so it fits into the jacking point and the flat foot of the jack touches the ground.
- Carefully continue to wind the jack until the wheel is off the ground. Be careful not to scrape your knuckles on the ground.
- Keep checking to make sure the jack has stayed straight and parallel. If not, lower it and try again.
- Raise the car high enough to get the inflated tyre on as this will be bigger than the flat tyre.
- Undo the wheel nuts and set them aside on a clean surface.
- They may have a right or wrong way around, so take note when removing them.
- The wheel should now lift away from the hub. It may be heavy, so be careful.
- If the wheel’s stuck, it might need some persuasion to come off.
- If it doesn’t come off fairly easily, replace the wheel nuts and call for assistance as it could be dangerous to proceed.
- If your spare wheel has nuts and studs, it should slide on easily.
- If the wheel has bolts, you’ll need to align the holes in the wheel to the bolt holes in the hub. An alignment tool will make this easier, if you have one.
- Screw the tool into the top hole and it’ll act as a guide to line up all the holes.
- Once all the other bolts are in, remove the alignment tool and put in the last bolt.
- Tighten all the nuts or bolts gently with the wheel brace.
- Use the jack to lower the car until it makes firm contact with the ground.
- Fully tighten the nuts or bolts in a diagonal pattern.
- Ask the garage or dealer to remove the skinny spare and fit a replacement.
- Have the pressure in the spare tyre checked.
- Get your wheel nuts tightened properly.
- Replace or repair the damaged tyre so you still have a spare.
- Make sure your tyres are in a safe and legal condition.
- If you have a spare wheel, check it regularly to make sure it’s fully inflated.
- Keep the right kit in your car to change a tyre.
- Learn how to use the tools you’ll need and find out where your car’s jacking points are.
What to do if my tyre is flat?
If you notice a flat tyre before you’ve started your journey, don’t try to drive anywhere on it – you can call us for help. It’s recommended that a trained professional changes your flat tyre. Make sure to add At Home to your breakdown cover policy. That way, you can call us to your home for breakdown services.
What not to do when changing a flat tyre
As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t do any of the following things if you’re attempting to change a flat tyre at home:
Our 7-step guide to changing a tyre
Step 1 - Get your car ready
If you’ve got all the tools you need for the job, you can get your car ready:
Step 2 – Get out everything you’ll need
Step 3 - Loosen the wheel nuts
Before you jack your car up, check that you can undo the wheel nuts or bolts. If they’re too tight, you’ll need to call us out.
Step 4 - Lift up the vehicle with the jack
Next, you’ll need to get the vehicle up on the jack.
Step 5 - Take off the punctured wheel
Once the car’s jacked up, you can undo the wheel or bolts and take the wheel off.
Step 6 - Fit the spare wheel
When the wheel with the puncture's off, you can put on your spare wheel.
Remove the jack and put all your tools back in their proper place in your car.
Remember: If you have a temporary-use skinny spare, you’ll need to check any restrictions on using it. Usually, you can only travel up to 50mph and you’ll need to replace it with a normal tyre as soon as you can.
Step 7 - Go to a garage or dealer
After you’ve changed your wheel, go to a dealer or a garage as soon as you can.
If you used a temporary skinny spare:
If you used a spare wheel:
Read our guide to breakdown cover to find out how we can help if you have car trouble.
If your tyre has been damaged by a pothole, find out how you may be able to claim for pothole damage.
We provide 24/7 roadside assistance.
How long does it take to change a tyre?
For most mechanics, it’ll take between 15-30 minutes to change a flat tyre. If you’re getting ready to carry out a tyre replacement for the first time, expect it to take 30 minutes or longer. Make sure you have all the essential items from the list above and your tyre change at home will go much smoother.
Is it difficult to change a tyre?
Most people would be able to change a tyre with practice and guidance. However, it can be difficult for someone who has never had any experience. It’s also important to maintain safety when changing a tyre, particularly when using a jack. This needs to be made secure so that the vehicle doesn’t suddenly drop down.
Can you drive on a flat tyre?
You should always try to pull over and stop in a safe place as soon as you’re aware of a flat tyre or tyre puncture. Driving on a flat tyre can put both yourself and other road users at danger. This is because you’ll have less control over the way your car drives and handles the road. The worst-case scenario would be experiencing a tyre puncture while travelling at speed – add in adverse weather like rain or snow and it can be extremely difficult to maintain control.
Can you change a tyre on the motorway?
No, we advise that you don’t try to change a tyre on the side of a motorway or on a hard shoulder (or ). Taking out tyre replacement tools on the motorway could present a major hazard for other road users. If you break down on a smart motorway, try to pull into the nearest designated emergency area. For breakdowns on motorways that have a hard shoulder – stop your car safely in the hard shoulder if possible. Either way, you can call us for assistance.
How to avoid a flat tyre
It’s not always possible to avoid getting a flat tyre. But there are a few simple steps you can take to lessen the chance.
Plan ahead, make sure you have everything you need and that you know how to use each tool.
If your tyre does burst while you're driving, keep a firm grip on the steering wheel and slow down gently, avoiding harsh braking. Keep driving, slowly, and find a safe place to stop.
Published: 29 March 2016 | Updated: 26 September 2023 | Author: The AA