Flat tyres are a leading cause of breakdowns on UK roads, and they’re stressful when they happen while driving. If you’re reading this from your car at the roadside or just curious about how to repair a flat tyre, our guide provides step-by-step advice on what to do when you get a flat tyre – including fitting a spare wheel and using an emergency puncture repair kit.

How to Change a Tyre at the Roadside

Punctures can happen anywhere at any time, so knowing how to change or repair a tyre at the roadside could get you out of a tight spot. There are a couple of ways to deal with a flat tyre at the roadside depending on the kit you have in your car.

Have a Spare Wheel? Change the Tyre

Some cars have a spare wheel stored beneath the boot floor, as well as a couple of basic tools for changing wheels in an emergency (including a wrench and jack). Changing a wheel is straightforward if you know what you’re doing, and is the safest option for continuing your journey.

Here’s how to fit a spare wheel when you have a puncture.

  1. Make sure you’re parked where it’s safe to work on your car; if you’re on the motorway, get right over to the verge if the puncture is on the driver’s side. Turn the engine off and engage the handbrake.
  2. Using the wrench, slightly loosen the bolts on the punctured wheel without fully removing them. If your car has alloy wheels, you’ll need the locking wheel nut adapter, so make sure you always carry it with you.
  3. Remove the spare wheel from the boot. Check the pressure and make sure it’s not damaged or punctured itself before fitting it to your car.
  4. Check the manual to find the safe jacking points on your car (there may be a small arrow or mark on the undercarriage to indicate this). Jack up the car so that the punctured wheel is off the ground.
  5. Because you half loosened the bolts earlier, the wheel should now be easy to remove without putting too much force on the jack. Remove all the bolts and slide the wheel off the lugs. Put the punctured wheel in the space where the spare was stored.
  6. Slide the spare wheel onto the lugs and begin replacing the bolts. You need to make sure they’re tightened evenly, so half tighten each bolt by hand first before fully tightening them all with the wrench.
  7. When you’re happy the bolts are tight and the wheel is secure, carefully lower the jack. You’re then ready to get back on the road.

Tip – if you have a space-saver spare wheel, make sure you adhere to the speed limit printed on the sidewall. Many spare wheels are speed restricted to 50 mph. You should also get the original wheel repaired and refitted as soon as possible.

Don’t Have a Spare Wheel? Temporarily Repair the Tyre

If you don’t have a spare, chances are you’ll have a puncture repair kit. These are provided by the manufacturer to help you get back on the road in an emergency, and will temporarily fix and re-inflate the wheel after a minor puncture. You can also buy aftermarket puncture repair kits, like Holts Tyreweld.

  1. Following the instructions provided by the manufacturer, attach the product to the wheel via the pressure valve and spray. The liquid circulates through the tyre, sealing small punctures.
  2. You’ll need to drive gently for a couple of miles to allow the product to circulate and coat the inside of the tyre. From there, keep to the recommended speed limit and get the tyre repaired as soon as possible.

Tip – some garages and tyre specialists may not be able to repair a tyre that’s been treated with a puncture repair kit, meaning you’ll need to buy a whole new wheel. Ask around before committing to a certain technician, as some may be able to repair the tyre at a fraction of the cost of a replacement.

Can a Punctured Tyre be Repaired?

Tyres can often be repaired after a puncture, but it does depend on the size of the hole and where the puncture happened. Small holes on the tread can be easily repaired by a trained tyre specialist, while those on the sidewall are unfixable because the structure of the tyre has been compromised.

You’re looking at around £20 for a tyre repair, depending on its severity and the work involved. This is much cheaper than a replacement, which will cost anywhere in the region from £40-£200 depending on the make and model of your car.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Flat Tyres

Tyres are exposed to all sorts of wear and tear in regular driving conditions, and are much more rugged and durable than you might expect. However, there are hazards out there that are likely to cause punctures, including:

  • Nails, screws and other sharp objects
  • Potholes
  • Kerbs
  • Under- or over-inflated tyres

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