Chances are we’ll all eventually find ourselves in this sticky situation – stranded on the side of a busy road with a flat or punctured tyre.
No need to panic. Most people, whether they know it or not, are more than capable of changing a tyre – provided of course, the spare and tools haven’t been long ago ditched to make way for more boot room.
Be prepared to get your hands dirty unless you’re driving a Jensen Interceptor that comes equipped with white gloves in the tool kit.
Chances are it won’t happen in a driveway, that would be too convenient, though that’s where a slow leak would be more apparent. It’s more likely to happen driving along a busy highway.
In this situation, find a safe place to pull well off the road and pop your hazards on. Make sure the vehicle is parked on a flat surface that’s not muddy, sandy or rocky.
Straighten the steering wheel and chock the rear wheels by placing something behind them (a rock or chunk of wood will suffice if you don’t have a proper wheel chock) to prevent the car from rolling, then get the tool kit out of the boot.
Remove the hubcap, most will pop off if you give it a good heave although some might be stuck in place with road grime and dust.
Loosen lug nuts with the wrench, turning counter-clockwise (most of the time, but not for some ‘strange’ European or older cars).
Place the jack under the side of the car, close to the wheel you’re changing. Make sure it’s not directly under the side skirts, the top of the jack needs to be positioned under the rail of the car in order to withstand the pressure of the weight. Many cars will have an indicator, in the Fiat’s case there is an arrow showing the correct spot to position the jack.
Wind up the jack – this can take a while – until the weight of the car is off the tyre and the rubber is just off the ground.
Remove the lug nuts completely and slide the wheel off. This is easiest when standing, rather than kneeling or crouching beside the car. Place the tyre under the side of the car as an extra safety measure in case the jack fails.
Grab your spare tyre, line it up and place it in position. If it’s a space saver take note of the speed limit and plan to head straight to your tyre retailer.
It’s worth noting that technically it may be necessary to change two tyres. Space savers should ideally be fitted to the rear of front-wheel drive vehicles and the front of rear wheel drive vehicles. If the front tyre blows on a front-wheel drive car, it’s recommended to remove a rear tyre, fit it to the front, then fit the space-saver to the rear. Of course, in the real-world this isn’t always practical and changing two tyres on the side of a highway with trucks screaming past effectively doubles the danger factor. Change the tyre, get off the side of the road, stick to the speed limit and get it sorted ASAP.
Thread the lug nuts back on until they’re finger tight, working in a star shape, then tighten with the wrench until they are just firm.
Wind down the jack and remove it from under the vehicle.
Use the wrench to fully tighten the lug nuts, applying pressure in a clockwise direction.
Put your tools and the blown or punctured tyre away.