A flat tyre can stop you and your car literally in its tracks, and can usually be relied upon to strike at the worst possible moment.
Repairing a flat tyre will ultimately mean a small outlay for the cost of a new tyre, but if you find yourself stranded at the roadside, what should you do?
1. Pull over safely
If your tyre pops while you’re driving at speed, it’s important to pull over as quickly as possible to prevent it shredding and subsequent damage to the wheel itself. Slow steadily without stamping on the brakes, to prevent a collision with unexpecting drivers, and come to a stop somewhere safe – away from moving traffic, if possible. Make sure you put on your hazard warning lights.
2. Locate the locking wheel nuts
Most modern cars come with a set of locking wheel nuts, which are designed to prevent the wheels from being stolen. You must keep these in the car; the glovebox is the perfect place.
The wheel nuts come with a key that unlocks them. Without this, you won’t be able to remove the wheel with the flat tyre; if this happens, you’ll need towing.
3. Locate the spare tyre
Many cars come with a spare tyre, as standard or as an optional extra. This will be either a full-sized wheel or a space-saver spare. Space-savers usually have a finite life (typically a few miles so you can reach the nearest garage) and are limited to no more than 50mph.
If you’re unsure whether your car has a spare, check before your next journey; a spare is typically situated beneath the boot floor, or is bolted to the underside of the car at the back. Famously, of course, some Land Rovers have them bootlid-mounted.
If you’ve bought the car recently on the used market, check that the spare is in good condition; a punctured spare is useless, and will earn you an instant MOT failure.
If you’re not confident about changing a flat tyre, at this point you can ask your roadside assistance provider to send help. It’s an especially good idea if you’re at the side of the motorway, just a few metres from speeding traffic. Once the spare is fitted, you can then stow the flat in the boot until you’re in a position to replace it.
If instead you’re feeling brave, or don’t have roadside assistance, you’ll need to dig out your…
This is a vital piece of equipment if you’re planning on changing your flat yourself, so keep it in the boot. Your car’s manual will tell you where to place the jack; make sure the engine is turned off and the car is in neutral. Only use the jack if you’re on a flat, level surface.
5. Replace the wheel
Remove the wheel with the flat, and replace it with the spare. Remember to jack the car up further than you need, as the spare will have a fully inflated tyre. Tighten the wheel nuts, slowly lower the car using the jack, and away you go.
What if my car doesn’t have a spare tyre?
Some new cars come with a puncture repair kit rather than a spare tyre. This typically includes a can of sealant (to patch the hole causing the puncture), which you inject through the tyre valve. The kit is completed by a compressed air pump, which is powered by the 12V power outlet and which can re-inflate the tyre temporarily. It’s worth familiarising yourself with the instructions in advance.
If your tyre has suffered a total blow out, and cannot be solved with a puncture repair kit, you’ll need professional assistance at the roadside so your car can be recovered.
Need to purchase new tyres?
At Inchcape you can now order your tyres online. Visit our genuine car tyres page to find out more.