Published: Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Thud. Thud. Thud. The sound of a flat tyre is one no driver wants to hear, whether they’re on a busy highway or a dirt road. And while it doesn’t happen very often, knowing how to deal with it when it does can be an absolute life-saver.
1. Come to a safe stop
Whether it pops in one go or leaks gradually, a flat tyre will affect your driving capacity. Try to slow the vehicle gradually and stop in a safe location, as far from the traffic flow as you can get, and put your hazard lights on. Don’t forget to apply the handbrake.
PRO TIP: Stop on hard and level ground to ensure safe use of the jack.
2. Gather your tools
Locate your spare tyre and tools for the job, which will probably be under the boot floor. You’ll need a jack, wheel brace and hubcap remover (usually incorporated on the end of the wheel brace). It can be a dirty job too, so a rag, a pair of sturdy gloves and something to kneel on would be helpful.
PRO TIP: Wedge something under a wheel (not the flat one) to stop the vehicle rolling. Use a wheel chock if available.
3. Take it off
Remove the hubcaps (prise off with the remover) or wheel nut covers, if fitted. Then, loosen the wheel nuts half a turn using the wheel brace. Fit the jack in the location recommended by your vehicle handbook, and jack the vehicle up until the flat tyre is off the ground. Remove the wheel nuts completely.
PRO TIP: Place the spare tyre just under the vehicle as soon as it’s off. If the jack fails, this will stop the car from hitting the ground.
4. New wheels
After removing the flat tyre (yup, they’re heavy), fit the spare. Whatever happens, don’t get under the vehicle while it’s on the jack. Once you’ve got the spare on, hand tighten the wheel nuts and lower the vehicle until the wheel touches the ground. Further tighten the wheel nuts in a star pattern using the wheel brace.
Once you’ve lowered the vehicle and removed the jack, re-check the wheel nuts and refit the wheel trim or wheel nut caps. Secure the flat tyre and tools in the vehicle.
PRO TIP: Re-check your wheel nut tension after 150km to make sure nothing’s come loose. Have the flat tyre repaired ASAP.