Can you change a flat tyre?

Thursday June 10 2021
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Make sure your car is in ‘Park’ and the handbrake is on before you jack it up. PHOTOS/GODFREY LUGAJU

By Mustafa Ziraba

I know what you are probably thinking - an entire article dedicated to changing a tyre? Is he serious?

Well, I am. And if you have ever seen some people struggling to do it on the side of the road, or better yet, calling a friend and or paying someone to do it for them, then you shall understand the purpose of this article.

Changing a tyre is just one of those life skills everyone ought to have. Just because you do not think you will ever need to change a tyre, it does not hurt to know how to do it properly.

It is quite understandable why some people dread performing this task. Changing a tyre is not always as easy as it sounds. This is especially true if you have never changed one as people go on for months without the need for a tyre change.

It requires some muscle, a willingness to get a little dirty, and some basic knowledge about what you need to do before starting.

What to do

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For some people, after noticing that they have a flat somehow opt to drive it all the way to the nearest station to get help. This of course butchers the tyre beyond repair and you will definitely need a new tyre.

Before you even drive your car for the first time, make sure you have all the proper equipment needed for changing a tyre.

These tools are generally located in the boot.

Perhaps the most important piece of equipment you will need is the jack that is in good working condition.

Without one, you will not be able to change your tyre. If you are unsure about how to use the jack, consult your friend, neighbour, colleague or the local mechanic before you raise your car.

For example, find out where the proper place to position the jack is, usually, somewhere on the frame.

Before you attempt to elevate your car for the tyre change, make sure your car is parked on level ground. If you get a flat tyre on a hill and cannot make it to level ground for fear of causing further damage to the tyre, find something to block the downside wheels to prevent your car from rolling.

Loosen nuts

Even if the car is on level ground, it is a good idea to use something that will block the wheels and prevent the car from rolling once it has been elevated. Bricks, a log, or stone will do the job.

In addition, make sure your car is in ‘Park’ and the handbrake is on before you jack it up.

Possibly the biggest mistake a person who has never changed a tyre makes is not loosening the nuts before elevating the car.  Once the car is up, the wheel will turn freely, which will make it extremely difficult to loosen the nuts.

Depending on your car, you will either have a cap or wheel cover that needs to be removed before you tackle the nuts. Now comes the part where you are going to need some muscle, especially if you have never removed the nuts from the wheel before.

That is because they were likely tightened with a power tool or some equally  powerful guy.

Raise the car

Once you have loosened the nuts using the nut spanner, it is time to raise the car.

Insert the jack handle into the jack, apply nice and even strokes up and down until the car is high enough that the wheel is completely clear of the ground.

You should check under the car to make sure it is resting securely on the jack.

After you have checked everything and you feel that the car is going nowhere, remove the nuts completely. Remove the flat tyre and ready the spare one. Hopefully you have enough tyre pressure in the spare.

It is good to always check your spare tyre regularly to ensure it is properly inflated.

Since tyres are heavy, this is where some people may need assistance especially with the bigger ones. Do not hesitate to call someone or accept the help of a friendly face if one comes along.

Once the spare tyre is in place, replace the nuts and tighten them by hand. Lower the car to the ground using the jack. Once the car is securely on the ground, tighten the nuts as much as you can. So yes you have successfully changed a tyre.

Many cars have spare tyres that are smaller than normal in size particularly meant for temporary use, which is clearly stated on the tyre sidewall.

Think of this literally, where you immediately need to take the flat for fixing or if beyond repair you need a new tyre.

More importantly though is to check that you have all the tools for a tyre change including an inflated spare tyre of course, a  jack that works and a nut spanner which fits your car’s nuts.

Where tyres sit

Regardless of the drive type, we recommend not fitting the better tyres at the front, but always fitting them at the back. The reason is simple: The rear axle ensures the tracking stability of a vehicle.

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