How to change a wheel

You just know that if you get a puncture, it’ll be at the most inconvenient time, when you’re in a mad rush to get somewhere. The last thing you’ll want to have to do is hang around, waiting for somebody to come to your rescue – which is why you need to get to grips with doing the job yourself.

Of course the best thing to do is to avoid getting a puncture in the first place; maintaining your tyres properly could make all the difference. But if you do get caught out, here’s what to do. Start by ensuring that the items below are in your boot. Get a puncture in the middle of nowhere, and if you’re missing any of these, you’re stranded: 

  • A jack

  • A wheelbrace

  • A spare wheel with a correctly inflated spare tyre

  • It’s also worth carrying some hand wipes or rubber gloves, plus a bin bag to carry the damaged wheel and tyre in your boot. Keeping the owner’s manual in the car could also be useful, and we’d recommend carrying a hazard warning triangle too.
If you get a puncture, it’ll be at the most inconvenient time, when you’re in a mad rush to get somewhere

Step one: safety

Park your vehicle on level ground as far away from traffic as possible, and if you’ve got a hazard warning triangle, place it 20-30 feet behind your car. If it's dark, ensure you’re wearing a high-vis jacket and using a torch. If near traffic, turn on your hazard lights. Any passengers should also get out of the car, and any heavy luggage will need to be removed.

Step two: removing the wheel

Remove the wheel cover or centre cap (if fitted), to gain access to the wheel nuts, and give each one a couple of turns with your wheel wrench, to loosen them. Then place your jack under the jacking point nearest the wheel - these points vary from vehicle to vehicle and will be indicated in your owner's manual, so it's important to know where they are ahead of time. Failure to place the jack properly can cause damage to the car and may provide an unstable lift. Turn the jack handle clockwise until you’ve raised the wheel completely off the ground. Remove the wheel nuts and remove the tyre.

How to change a wheel insert.jpg

Step three: fitting the spare wheel

Fit the replacement wheel and tighten all the wheel nuts with your fingers. We've assumed there are five wheelnuts, but if there are just four, ignore nut number 5 as shown here. To ensure perfect alignment, you should tighten the nuts further (but not fully) in the following order either clockwise or anti-clockwise: first, third, fifth, second, fourth (if drawn out, the order looks like a five pointed star, as shown to the left).

Step four: finishing up

Lower the car by turning the jack handle anti-clockwise until the wheel is resting on the ground and the jack can be removed. Give those nuts a last turn (using the same pattern above) to ensure everything is secure, and make sure you pack everything back into the boot.

This article was brought to you in association with Nationwide Vehicle Contracts