Of all the jobs that have a reputation for being terrible and difficult, changing a tyre is probably one of the easiest. It’s a task that can be dangerous, but with proper precautions, as outlined here, the majority of risk can be eliminated. The following is a comprehensive set of instructions from professionals at a major Hyundai dealership.
Tools you’ll need:
- A jack
- A wheel brace
- Wheel chocks
- A spare tyre
Fortunately the jack, wheel brace, and spare tyre come with the car. Lift up the floor of the boot to find them. Wheel chocks probably do not come with the vehicle, but you can use an appropriately sized rock, log, or brick.
Obviously flats don’t happen in the most convenient of locations, but if possible, get as far to the edge of the road as possible, or coast off onto a side street. Also try to find as level a location as possible. Jacking up a car on sloped ground makes an already somewhat dangerous process extremely dangerous.
Once you’ve determined the location, chock the wheels. Chocking all wheels is best, but the most important wheel is the one diagonal from the flat. So if you’re changing the left front, then the rear right wheel is the one you chock. Simply jam something solid in front and behind the tyre to prevent it from rolling.
Set the parking brake. Chocking the wheels should prevent rolling, but two lines of defense are better than one.
Set the spare tyre on the ground under a solid point of the suspension. This is so that if the jack fails, there is still something solid between the car and the ground.
Locate and assemble the jack. It’s probably in two pieces: a scissor lift piece, and a crank. Set the jack under the door frame immediately adjacent to the wheel that will be removed. Raise the jack until it solidly contacts the car, but do not raise the car yet.
Use the wheel brace to loosen the lug nuts. You’re doing this now because with the wheel still on the ground you have good leverage. If you were to wait until the wheel were off the ground to loosen the nuts, the wheel would simply turn and you would not be able to get the nuts loose.
Once the nuts are loose, raise the car until there is about a two-inch gap between the wheel and the ground. There is no need to raise it higher.
Spin the nuts the rest of the way off.
Remove the tyre. With the nuts loose, the tyre should easily pull toward you off the bolts that hold it in place.
Put the spare tyre onto the bolts, and put the old wheel on the ground under the car where the spare was, as an added measure of safety.
Spin the lug nuts into place, making sure the wheel is seated all the way back onto the bolts. You can use the wheel brace at this point, but you won’t be able to get the nuts very tight until the wheel is on the ground.
Lower the car. This is done by screwing the jack handle in the opposite direction. If you’re using a hydraulic jack (the kind with a pump handle), you lower the lift arm by gently twisting the pump handle.
Once the wheel is on the ground, use the wheel brace to tighten the nuts using a star pattern. This means that if the wheel has five nuts, you tighten them in this order: 1, 3, 5, 2, 4. The goal is to get the wheel seated evenly, and this is best accomplished by gradually tightening all nuts at the same time.
Remove wheel chocks and e-brake.
Some tips to keep in mind:
Safety first! Cars are heavy. Notice that at no point do you ever need to be under the car.
Also notice that the times when you’re exerting the most force on the car (breaking loose and tightening nuts), all four wheels are on the ground.
Notice that a lot of effort is devoted to making sure the car does not roll at all. The small jack that comes with the car is not stable and will tip if the car moves while jacked.
Finally, notice that you almost always have a tyre under the car in addition to the jack. Even with all the precautions taken to ensure that the jack does not fail, it pays to plan for a worst-case scenario.
If you follow all of these precautions, the whole job should be relatively easy, and take no more than 20 minutes.