The wheels on the car go round and… flat

Every motorist gets a flat tyre at some point – but not every driver is happy to get themselves out of trouble.

14 Nov 2016

Getting a flat tyre isn’t an unusual occurrence, and it should be fairly straightforward to dig out the spare and get going again. However, it seems that more of us are reaching for the phone instead of the car jack.

 

Punctures

Some causes of flat tyres are avoidable, such as under- or over-inflating your wheels, but others are not. Punctures are often the cause of a flat tyre. According to our Fast-Fit survey, 90% of respondents who’ve had a flat tyre found that a puncture was the source of the problem, which means that you need to be prepared. For many motorists, rolling up the sleeves and having a go at changing the wheel is a simple solution. However, not all drivers are prepared to make an attempt.

 

Call a hero

If you can’t sort the wheel out yourself, you’re going to need some help. Saintly passers-by have bailed us all out on occasion, but a helping hand is not always forthcoming. In this case, we turn to our contacts list.

Parents, friends and even neighbours can be great ports of call in a crisis, but the most popular saviour is the breakdown service. However, calling up the experts means you have to wait for rescue.

69% of people would call a breakdown service rather than attempt to change the wheel themselves.

If you’re lucky, you can be back on the road in 10-20 minutes, but some less fortunate drivers in our survey had to sit tight for more than two hours.

 

Lacking the essentials

But why are some drivers reluctant to do the job? Kneeling on the road in your workclothes is an obvious deterrent, but for other motorists it seems that the main cause for concern is a lack of know-how.

28% of respondents said that they had never changed a wheel because they weren’t confident, lacked the necessary knowledge or wanted an expert opinion.

Not knowing what to do and feeling unconfident can turn changing a wheel by the side of the road into a stressful situation, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that some of us admit defeat and call for back-up.

A lack of knowledge may not be the only issue. In our survey, 23% of those who would ask for help admitted that they didn’t have the correct tools. Yet more motorists were worried about not being able to loosen the nuts on the wheel or finding the wheel too heavy to move. However, if you have the necessary tools and the right knowledge, you could avoid calling a rescuer and get back on the road by following just a few simple steps.

 

The right gear

Before you can become a wheel-changing expert, you need to have the right equipment. However, not everyone has the right tools in their boot.

16% of respondents confessed that they were unsure or didn’t have equipment such as a jack.

If you’re unsure about what equipment you have, check! You need to have the following:

  • Spare tyre or tyre sealant
  • Jack
  • Wheel brace or wrench (with extension if you want more leverage)
  • Locking wheel nut key (if necessary)

Watch our video at the top of the page to show you how to change a wheel safely.

 

The knowledge

Once you have the gear, you need to practise. To find out what to do, check out our handy video, which breaks the job down into simple and easy to follow steps.

Top tip: If the nuts on the wheel are too tight, using an extension on your wrench will give you more leverage – you don’t have to be muscle-bound to change a wheel.

You may still prefer to call out the experts, but if you happen to get a flat tyre in a place with no mobile signal and no help in sight, you may be glad that you know what to do.

 

Remember, changing the wheel yourself is a temporary measure. Always drive straight to your local garage to replace your spare tyre and to check that the replacement is fitted correctly.