Tyre companies reckon that each of us can expect to have a puncture once every five years. For many of us that will mean using a sealant and inflation kit. However, some cars still come with either full-size or space saver spare wheels. And if that’s the case, you might have to do a car wheel change. Here’s how you do one in easy steps.
Park the car on a flat, level surface with the parking brake on and the car in first gear or park if it’s an auto. Make sure you have plenty of room around the wheel and that you can work a safe distance from passing cars.
Find the spare wheel, wheel brace and jack in the boot and track down the locking wheel nut key, if applicable. Before attempting a car wheel change, remove these from the boot and satisfy yourself that the spare is in good enough condition to use. If your boot is loaded up, remove all the luggage and ask any people in the car to step out.
Find the jacking points. The car’s user manual should tell you where these are. There may even be a sticker on the jack that shows you.
Loosen the nuts on the wheel you want to change. You may find that these have been done up too tightly. Having the weight of the car on the wheel will help you to undo the nuts without the risk of it falling off the jack. If you can’t undo them using reasonable force, you may have to call a breakdown professional. You don’t want to risk rounding off the nuts with the wheel brace.
Jacking it up
Position the jack beneath the jacking point nearest the wheel you want to change – this is important because they’re reinforced to bear the weight of the car – and jack it up. Do NOT get under the car or put your legs or anything else beneath the car. Jacks can collapse.
When the wheel is clear of the ground, undo the nuts and put them somewhere safe. Leave the bottom wheel nut until last to keep the wheel in position.
Remove the wheel you want to change. Be warned, it may not come off. Hubs and alloy wheels are different types of metal and can become welded together with heat. If this is the case, you will need to call a professional. Do NOT pull at the wheel, you could yank the car off its jack. A professional will use a much more stable trolley jack.
The actual car wheel change part
Lift the new wheel onto the hub, lining up the holes in the wheel with the screw holes in the hub. The wheel probably won’t stay there on its own so rest your foot against the bottom of it if you can while you screw in the bottom nut.
Tighten all the nuts, first with your fingers, then gently with the wheel brace.
Lower the jack until the car is resting on the ground again. Remove it, then tighten the wheel nuts as much as you can.
Now the car is on the ground again
Once you’re happy the wheel is safely located and the nuts are properly done up, replace the wheel brace, jack and damaged wheel/tyre in the boot. You can now reload the car.
Presuming you take the punctured tyre/damaged wheel in to be fixed/replaced, it’s an idea to have the experts check the wheel nuts if you’re keeping the replacement wheel on. If you’ve got a space saver spare, this won’t need addressing.
I’ve been writing about cars and motoring for more than 25 years. My career started on a long-departed classic car weekly magazine called AutoClassic. I’ve since pitched up at Autosport, Auto Express, the News of the World, Sunday Times and most recently the Daily Telegraph. When I’m not writing about cars and motoring, I’m probably doing some kind of sport or working in my garden.