The following steps are basic and apply to most types of car or truck.
You will need
- A car jack rated to take the weight of your vehicle.
- A set of gloves can be helpful, though are not essential.
- A correct-sized socket and bracing bar to be able to undo and tighten the wheel nuts on your vehicle.
- A lever to remove hubcaps (if fitted). Something as simple as a flathead screwdriver will do this job.
- A locking nut remover to remover a locking nut (only necessary if your vehicle is fitted with these). A locking nut is simply an anti-theft device to stop some-one easily pinching the wheels off your vehicle. A lot of vehicles are not fitted with them.
- You will, of course, need a spare wheel. Most vehicles have these either attached in a cradle on the underside or in a well beneath the boot carpet.
SEVERE INJURY CAN RESULT IF YOU ATTEMPT TO GO UNDER AN UNSUPPORTED VEHICLE ON A JACK OR FAIL TO CHOCK THE VEHICLE TO PREVENT IT FROM ROLLING WHEN JACKED.
It is important when setting out on a journey to check the condition of your spare wheel at the same time that you check the condition of the other road wheels. It is all too easy to neglect the spare and find that the tyre is flat on it in the moment of need!
Park the vehicle on a hard surface, preferably away from traffic. Avoid carrying out a wheel change on ground that slopes if at all possible and chock the vehicle using pieces of wood, bricks or suitable rocks to stop it from moving when on the jack. Apply the parking brake. Locate the jacking point and position the jack ready but do not begin jacking yet. The jack must be over a hard surface, or the weight of the vehicle will simply result in the jack sinking into the ground.
Remove hubcap if fitted and if required to gain access to the wheel securing nuts. Using the socket and bracing bar to loosen all the nuts on the wheel to be removed. Do not remove them fully – simply to loosen them is enough. If a locking nut is fitted, this can be removed with the tool that came with the vehicle. This will look similar to an ordinary socket and will fit to the same bracing bar that the regular socket fits to.
Begin jacking the vehicle until the wheel to be removed is just off the ground. Do not lift the vehicle any higher than you need to. Now you can finish removing the loosened wheel nuts and carefully remove the wheel. Careful as the wheel may be heavy. Take note of how the wheel is aligned to the hub. On most vehicles there will be a device to ensure the correct alignment of the wheel and this may be a lug or a pin. The spare wheel should be aligned to this to ensure that it matches up correctly to the hub.
Lift the spare wheel to the hub and align it. If the vehicle has bolts protruding from the hub it should be a simple task to line the wheel onto them then hand tighten the nuts. If the wheel is fastened via studs, it may require some careful alignment to match it to the hub and get the first stud into place. If necessary only partially tighten each nut/stud before applying the next one. Only once all are in place can you tighten them up. It may be helpful to wobble the wheel with your hands on the hub to ensure that is aligned centrally.
Tighten all the wheel securing nuts so that the wheel is secure to the vehicle. They do not have to be fully tightened yet. Lower the jack until the wheel is on the ground and taking some of the vehicle’s weight. You can now use the socket and bracing bar to fully tighten each nut. They need to be fairly tight to avoid them working loose when the vehicle is in motion. As a rough guide, it should take both hands and as much strength as you can reasonably apply to tighten each nut. Smaller people may find it useful to CAREFULLY apply their weight to tighten the nut by stepping with one foot on the bracing bar. If doing this method do not over tighten the nut and ensure that you support yourself against the vehicle in case the socket slips. Ensure at all times that the socket is FULLY INSERTED over the nut.
Replace hubcap (if required) and remove jack from under the vehicle. You can also remove any and all chocks used. Make sure that you stow all your tools and the spare wheel back in your vehicle! It is easy to accidentally leave something at the roadside if not careful. You can now continue with your journey. Ensure that you get the flat tyre on the wheel you have changed repaired at the soonest convenience, as otherwise you will have no useable spare wheel the next time you get a flat tyre.