A simples guide

How To Change A Tyre

We all know we need to check our tyres but do we really know what to look out for? It’s important: a worn tyre will at the very least affect the performance of your car; at its worst it could cause a serious accident. So it goes without saying that tyres need looking after... so it's time to get up close and personal with them.


What's the legal limit for tyres

The legality of a tyre is based on the depth of the tread in the centre three quarters of the tyre, all the way round. This must be a minimum of 1.6mm. You could receive a fine of up to £2,500 and three points on your licence – per tyreif you're found to be driving with tyres under this limit. Remember – this applies to your spare tyre too (if you have one) so make sure you give it the once over too.


Most driving organisations recommend you change your tyres way before they get to this state. In fact the AA recommend you have a minimum depth of 3mm in the winter to safely handle weather conditions.

Bald tyres

Did you know ... if you have an accident and your tyres are under the legal limit, your insurance may not cover you?

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Checking your tyres for wear

A bulge in your car tyre could give way at any time causing a blowout. Worn treads could stop you from braking safely, particularly in wet weather, and cause a skid. So it's vital you check your tyres visually on a regular basis. Before you start, buy yourself a tyre tread depth gauge. It's the easiest way to measure the depth.

1) Get down on your hands and knees and inspect the tyres – you're looking for excess wear like blemishes, bulges or cuts.

2) Turn your front wheels to get an easier look at the inside. Grab a torch for a good look at the rear tyres.

3) Next grab your gauge and check all four tyres and also your spare. If you can't get hold of a gauge you can use a 20p coin. Place it between the grooves – if you can still see the outer band of the coin, the tread is too worn and the tyre need changing. Remember you need to check in several places across the tyre and check the whole circumference.

If you find they do need changing there are many companies to consider. You can go to your regular garage, visit a drive-in tyre specialist like Kwik Fit or National, or you can even buy online with companies like etyres.co.uk. Some will come to your home or work, so you can fit it in around your busy schedule.

The benefit of using a garage is that they can advise you on what kind of tyre you need. If you're buying online you'll need to have the information to hand about the size and type of tyre – you'll find this on the side of the existing tyres or in your owner’s handbook.

Check your car tyre pressure

Get in the habit of checking your tyre pressure every fortnight. It'll only take a few extra minutes at the petrol station when you fill up. Or, you might have a pressure gauge and pump at home.

Whichever you use, make sure you have the correct pressure amounts. They can be found in your owner’s handbook. Remember when you’re travelling with a full car you may need to change tyre pressure – depending on what it says in your handbook.


When you have your tyres changed it's always a good idea to have your tracking (or wheel alignment as it’s sometimes known) done. This is where a garage will check that your wheels are still straight and haven’t been knocked out by driving over potholes or speed bumps to make sure you don’t have excessive wear on a particular area of your tyre. Some places offer it for free so make sure you shop around.

What to do if you get a puncture

So the thing you've always dreaded has happened, you've got a puncture. What do you do?

Be prepared

It's a good idea to keep an essential kit in your car for all eventualities. In this kit make sure you have some strong gloves and sturdy shoes as you might need to change your tyre yourself. A reflective vest and a warning triangle are also a must.

Warning Triangle

Keep calm

Getting a puncture on the move can be quite scary, but try to keep calm. The safety of you and your passengers is the most important thing. Here's what you should do:

1) Find a safe place to pull over. Make sure you put the handbrake on.

2) Switch off the engine, keeping the car in a low gear.

3) Switch on your hazard lights.

4) If you have a reflective vest, put it on.

5) Place your warning triangle at the side of the road approximately 100m behind the car.

At this point you'll need to decide whether it is safe to change the tyre – if you have one that is. Make sure you check whether you have a puncture repair kit, a space saver or a full size spare so that you’re prepared should you ever get a puncture.

If you're on the side of the motorway or a busy road then don’t attempt it. You'll then need to get everyone out of the car and to safety (which might be up the top of the motorway verge). Assuming it’s safe to continue and you know what you’re doing:

1) Equip yourself with your gloves, user handbook, jack, spare tyre, wheel chock (wedge) and a wheel wrench. Make sure you read the instructions in the handbook carefully before you start.

2) Ensure everyone is out of the car.

3) Remove the wheel trim if applicable.

4) Place the jack on the car's jack head, as per your handbook (don't put it anywhere else) and start to turn the handle until you feel the car lift very slightly.

5) Loosen the wheel nuts, but don’t remove them yet.

6) Carefully raise the car so it's just clear of the ground.

7) Remove all wheel nuts apart from the top one. You'll need to balance the wheel on the hub with your knee or toe. Once you've removed the top nut lift the wheel away.

8) Now fit the spare, doing the reverse of the above. Ensuring that you have tightened the nuts sufficiently.

You should always visit a garage to have the punctured tyre replaced and fitted professionally. Don't just leave your spare tyre on as you'll obviously not have a 'spare' anymore. If you’re worried about tyre changing, you can always call a breakdown service such as the AA, the RAC or Green Flag to come and help you.

Top Tip

Make sure you know what type of spare you have in the boot and if you can, practice changing a tyre at home when you aren't under pressure. Get to know the process, so it's one less thing to worry about if it ever happens for real.

tyre puncture

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