How To Master Changing A Wheel

Last Updated: 10/04/2021

Changing a wheel when you get a puncture is something that may fill you with dread, and you wouldn’t be alone.

Despite each motorist on averaging getting a puncture every 44,000 miles, most dread that thought of having to change the wheel themselves.

While some fear the car may collapse on top of them or the wheel will come off shortly after them changing it, it’s likely that most simply do not think they’d be capable of changing the wheel.

The reality is that if you have the correct tools in the car with you and you pull over in a safe and suitable place, then changing a wheel is actually pretty straight forward and safe.

It’s just about having the confidence and knowledge to do so.

Before we jump in to this guide, you’re going to need to know what equipment you will need to be able to safely change a wheel.

We’ve listed it out as follows:

A Spare Wheel:

It goes without saying really!

This is usually located in your boot – you will need to lift the carpet to access it, however, please note that newer cars are unlikely to have spare wheels, so in cases such as that you will need to know how to use the puncture repair kit provided (consult the vehicle manual for this).

Vehicle Handbook:

This will tell you important information such as where your car’s jacking point is and what pressure the tyres should be inflated to.

Lifting Jack:

This is what will lift your car up so that the wheel can be removed.

Most cars with spare wheels will have one of these – it will probably be in the boot compartment with the spare wheel.

If yours is missing, you can buy one from most automotive shops.

They are fairly affordable to buy and can be kept in a pouch in the boot of your car.

Wheel Chock:

This will prevent prevent your vehicle from rolling while you’re changing the wheel.

Locking Wheel Nut:

This will release the locking nut from your wheel when you change it.

Wheel Wrench:

This will help you when undoing the bolts on the wheel.

Hi-Vis/Reflective Clothing:

It is always highly recommended to carry a hi-vis vest so you can stay visible to other motorists when changing your wheel.

What You Will Learn

This guide will take you through the process of changing a wheel, leaving you with the knowledge and confidence to be able to do so yourself.

Specifically, we will teach you:

  • The do’s and don’ts when changing a wheel
  • How to jack your car up
  • What to do before changing your wheel
  • When you should not change your wheel yourself

Our guide to mastering changing a wheel will go through the usual sections to make it as simple to follow as possible.

They are:

  • Step-By-Step Guide
  • Video Demonstration
  • Hints & Tips
  • Useful Information
  • Final Thoughts
  • Further Resources

Step-By-Step Guide

  • Before changing your wheel, you should check that your spare wheel has a sufficient and legal amount of tread on it. You should also have everything you need ready, including a jack, wheel wrench and locking wheel nut.
  • Ensure your engine is turned off, handbrake applied, and car is left in first gear.
  • Place the wheel chock under the wheel which is diagonally opposite the one you are replacing. This will stop it rolling. If you have a wheel trim on the wheel you’re replacing, remove it now.
  • Locate the jacking point closest to where the wheel is located that you’re replacing. This will be noted in your car handbook/owner manual.
  • Ensure the jack engages properly and begin to lift the car. Raise the car until the jack begins to lift the car on its springs. The wheel should still be touching the ground – stop here.
  • Using the wrench, loosen the wheel nuts.
  • Continue raising the car with the jack until the car is off the ground.
  • Remove loosened wheel nuts while keeping the wheel in position with your knee or foot (whichever is easiest).
  • Lift the wheel off the car.
  • Place the spare wheel on to the car and lightly screw on the wheel nuts with by hand. Always start with the top nut and work diagonally thereafter.
  • Slowly lower the car again until the wheel is just about touching the ground but will not turn.
  • Now you can tighten the nuts using the wrench.
  • Once complete, lower the car completely and remove the jack.

Video Demonstration

Hints & Tips

While replacing the spare wheel is a lot simpler than you may think, it’s not always safe or suitable for you to change the wheel yourself.

Here are some useful tips to keep in mind when you need to change a wheel.

  • Never change your wheel on the hard shoulder of a motorway. If you need to do so, you should move to a safe place away from the car with any passengers, as high up the grass verge as possible. Ring for specialist help.
  • If your car is on loose or uneven ground, do not attempt to change the wheel here. It’s dangerous to do so.
  • Before changing your wheel, always remove any passengers from the vehicle. Move them well away from the road to a safe place.
  • Always make sure you wear high-visibility clothing when changing a wheel at roadside.
  • Only use proper jacking points to jack up your car. Using the wrong part of the car can result in the jack slipping and the car falling.

Useful Information

If your car does have a spare wheel, there is a strong chance that it’s going to be a smaller version of your normal wheels.

You’ll be able to tell if this is the case as the appearance is totally different and it will be thinner than other wheels.

If this is the case, be mindful that you’re only ever permitted to go at 50mph with one of these spare wheels fitted.

It’s good practice to check what you have available in your car should you get a puncture while driving.

So, do the checks ahead of time so you know whether you have a spare wheel, puncture repair kit or if your car is fitted with run-flat tyres.

Final Thoughts

Being able to change a spare wheel can save you a lot of time and money when punctures occur out on the road, however, it’s important that safety and preparation are paramount in your mind when you’re considering changing the wheel yourself.

So long as you have the correct equipment and it is safe to perform the procedure yourself, it’s a great skill to have and one you will need to demonstrate when learning to drive.

Further Resources