Six mistakes to avoid when you’re changing a tyre

Here’s a quick round-up of six common mistakes that motorists make when changing a tyre.

We’re sure that confident tyre-changers will dismiss all six of our mistakes  as ‘just common sense’.

And maybe they are. But the thing is, common sense can disappear out the window when you’re late, tired and just want to get home.

And don’t forget that improvements in tyre technology mean that many people haven’t changed a tyre in years (if ever!)

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at some common tyre-changing errors. Steer clear of these and changing your tyre will be safer, quicker and less stressful.

1. Rushing and/or panicking

When you have a flat tyre, the worst thing you can do is to panic or rush things. Most of the mistakes below boil down to that.

It’s completely understandable that you just want to get on with your journey, or that you’re completely thrown by the situation. But our advice is to take a deep breath, step back and take things a stage at a time.

2. Not being prepared

Not being prepared is probably the most common mistake connected with changing a tyre. As you don’t know when or where a tyre might let go, we recommend that you always have the following in your vehicle:

  • the owner’s manual, so you can find the jacking points
  • a torch  – the one on your mobile might not be up to the job
  • a warning triangle
  • a high-vis jacket
  • the wheel nut key, if you have locking wheel nuts
  • a pump and pressure gauge
  • wheel chocks (because there’s never a brick around when you need one)
  • the jack, wheel wrench and spare tyre!

If you do get a flat, having these basics will make life so much easier.

3. Changing close to traffic

To change a tyre safely, you need a fair bit of room. On Britain’s narrow, crowded roads, that’s unlikely to be at the roadside. If the flat is on the driver’s side, you’re in danger of getting hit. But even if the flat is on the offside, you don’t want to be working on the car if it gets swiped by another vehicle.

If you can drive the vehicle safely to a lay-by or other safe area, get your hazards on, slow down and do that. The RAC comment that it’s far better to risk damaging the wheel than stopping on a narrow, busy road.

If it’s not really not safe to continue, then your best choice is phoning a breakdown service.

4. Changing on an unsuitable surface

The desire to get going as fast as possible can lead to another mistake: changing the tyre on grass, gravel or a slope. To change the tyre safely, you need the jack (and the rest of the vehicle) on a hard, level, stable surface.

If you have no choice but to change a tyre on grass or gravel, you can try a sturdy piece of wood under the jack to stop it from sinking or shifting so much,

5. Not ensuring the vehicle can’t move

Another common mistake when changing the tyre is not taking precautions to keep the car from rolling forward or backward.

Not parking on a slope is a start, but there’s more you can do. Firstly — and obviously — make sure the handbrake is on. However, this usually only locks the back wheels, and one of these could be off the ground. So, in addition, put a manual vehicle into first gear or reverse; if it’s an automatic, make sure it’s in park. This will lock up the driven wheels (typically the front ones, unless it’s a performance car).

We also recommend putting wheel chocks under the diagonally opposite tyre. For example, brace the nearside front if you’re changing the offside rear. Alternatively, you could brace that tyre with a couple of rocks or stones — assuming that you can find any!

6. Not using the correct jacking points

Each car has particular points on the underside that are designed to accommodate the jack. Missing these can damage the vehicle, or result in it slipping off the jack. You don’t want either to happen!

The manual will tell you where these are on your particular model. You do still have the manual in the car, don’t you?

Plenty more mistakes

There are plenty more tyre-changing mess-ups where those came from, but those are arguably the most common. For advice on all tyre matters and convenient tyre changes at your work or home, get in touch.

Oh, and Merry Christmas!

Wishing our customers and readers a fantastic Christmas and New Year. We’ll see you in January!