We All Know How to Chane a Tyre Right? Wrong!
According to a survey, two out of five Australian drivers do not know how to change their tyres.
Changing a flat tyre is inevitable for all drivers. Therefore, it is a necessary skill that you should acquire.
Some people rely on their phones to help them in this kind of emergency.
However, there is always a chance they forget to charge it, there is no phone network in the area and the wait for help can sometimes be a long one.
Flat tyres can happen to anyone at any time. Having your phone ready is not the solution.
Instead, you should be prepared and skilled enough to change a flat tyre on your own.
In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about changing a flat tyre, as well as the rules and regulations surrounding tyres in Australia.
If you are also looking for tyre recommendations, this post is also for you.
How Do You Know When You Need to Change Your Tyre?
If you are driving and you hear a loud pop, it is mostly because your tyre has gone flat. If you did not hear anything, you would still feel that thump, along with some vibration. Most of the time, a loud flapping sound can be heard, which comes from the flat tyre itself.
Tyre punctures can happen to you while you are driving. It is not always noticeable because it can occur with a slow leak. The under-inflated requires your attention right away. One sign is when the steering wheel is shaking or unsteady, which suggests the tyres are not balanced. Another is when it feels like the steering wheel pulls to the side where the puncture is on.
If steering has become less responsive and cornering is difficult, it means you have a flat tyre or at least one with low pressure.
Other reasons why you need a tyre replacement include:
- Uneven tread means that the more worn tyre could blow out anytime
- Tyres in low pressure are under stress, which can lead to a blowout
- Vibration is a sign to look for, which shows that at least one tyre is damaged. It may also be due to poor suspension. Have the mechanic check it right away.
- There is physical damage to the tyre, such as a cut or bulge.
The coin test will help you determine if a tyre needs replacement. To perform, place a 20c coin with its head positioned on tread grooves. If you see that the tread does not come in contact with the platypus’ bill, your tyre only has 3mm left of tread on it.
To stay safe on the road, you should replace your tyre as soon as possible. Make sure you do the test on all your tyres.
Important Terminologies to Know About
We will keep the guide simple, but it does not hurt to understand certain terms relating to tyres and changing them.
Some terminologies include:
- Air pressure: Pertaining to the amount of air within the tyre, the air pressure is measured typically in pounds per square inch or PSI. Sometimes, companies use bars to talk about air pressure. The correct amount for your tyre will depend on the specific vehicle you are driving, so make sure to read its handbook. You can also consult the petrol tank flap for this information.
- Bar: If the manufacturer uses bar, it is the metric unit for air pressure. One bar is equivalent to 12.503 PSI.
- Alignment: Proper alignment ensures the correct positioning of the wheels and suspension.
- Sidewall: The sidewall is the tyre’s side, located between the bead and the tread surface.
- Bead: The bead is the round hoop where the steel reinforcements and wire, which are inside the tyre.
- Tread: The tread is the outer tyre layer, which is the part that touches the road.
- Tread life: The expected life of the tyre before it starts to wear out is known as the tread life and is measured in kilometres.
Section height: It is the measurement of the tyre from one side to another.
- Section width: This measurement tells you where the tread and sidewall meet.
- Radial: This type of tyre that comes with wires inside to make it safer and firmer than traditional tyres.
Remould: When an old tyre gets a new surface, the process is known as remoulding.
With such knowledge, you can now proceed to change your worn or flat tyre.
Step by Step Guide on How to Change a Tyre
Replacing your old tyre may look easy – until you do it on your own. It takes skill to carry it out. However, it should not keep you from learning since it is one of the most important things that you should know about.
With the right gear, along with the basic steps, you should be fine.
Flat tyres are such an inconvenience, and they can happen to anyone at the worst possible time and location. While out on the road, the most significant step to bear in mind is to find a safe spot first.
Before you start changing, you should pull over to a place where there is no traffic. Also, it helps if you change on a hard, flat, and smooth surface.
Here are the steps to follow:
Step 1: Prepare All the Things You Need
Before any tyre trouble, you should already have these necessities:
- Spare to replace the flat tyre with
- Wheel brace to loosen the lug nuts
- Socket with a long handle if a wheel brace is not available
- Sturdy car jack
- A chunk of wood for stabilising the car
- A brick as an alternative to the piece of wood
If you end up at a soft spot and there is no other choice for you, a solid board can be a lifesaver. You can stick it under the jack before lifting the vehicle. Having the owner’s manual can also be handy in this situation.
For drivers who no longer have the original manual, wrench, or car jack, it is necessary to have them replaced right away. You should also regularly inflate your spare tyre according to the recommended pressure of the manufacturer.
Whenever you check your installed tyres, you should also check the air pressure of your spare. Inspect it monthly and before you go on a long trip.
Other things that you may need are:
- Headlamp or flashlight
- Paper towels
- Tyre gauge
- Raincoat (in case of rain)
Step 2: Lift Up the Car
Safely position the car jack, which should be at the grooves or notches located on the underside of the vehicle. Keep checking its stability and placement before proceeding.
Once you are satisfied with it, you can begin to turn the wheel brace slowly. You will know it is enough when adequate weight is lifted off of the flat tyre.
However, it is still necessary that there is enough weight on the tyre. This way, you can be sure that you can loosen the wheel nuts while keeping the wheel in place.
Step 3: Slacken Off the Wheel Nuts
Most people, especially the beginners in replacing flat tyres, tend to use brute force to loosen the wheel nuts.
Rather than utilising your strength, you should know the proper technique for it. Here are the steps:
- Get the wheel brace connected onto a nut.
- A quick jolt to the anti-clockwise direction should loosen it.
- Keep the brace onto the nut with both of your arms and back straight.
- Loosen the nut with each turn.
An effective technique here is to keep the brace horizontal to the ground. Your body weight should do almost all the work.
Step 4: Remove the Flat Tyre
With all the nuts free, the next step is to take the jack and lift the car. It should be high enough so that you can replace the flat tyre with the new one.
Most of the time, an inch or two above the ground would be sufficient for many cars. You should not lift it more than you need to.
The next thing to do is to remove all the wheel nuts and the wheel from the car. By now, you should have the old tyre completely off the vehicle.
Step 5: Replace the Flat Tyre With the New One
Grab the new wheel and position it against the assembly. Keep it in line with the wheel holes, which will make the process easier. You should be able to lift the wheel straight to the car with just a single try without the need to twist it.
Once the wheel is already in position, place all the lug nuts and tighten them using your hand. At this stage, you do not have to tighten the nuts all the way. The goal is to have them in the right place. Fully tightening them should only be done once the car is entirely stable and is off the jack.
Step 6: Finish The Process
Finally, the last step is to lower the car by winding the jack down. The tyre should now be on the ground and taking the weight of the vehicle. Take it off the jack and tighten the wheel nuts completely.
Just like when removing the lug nuts, you should utilise your body weight, not the strength of your arm. Maintain the wheel brace’s position, which should be parallel to the ground.
With the new tyre installed, you can now store the jack and wheel brace back to the boot. You should also put the old tyre in the storage. This way, it will not slide around the recess as you drive.
How to Repair Small Tyre Punctures
Sharp debris on the road, such as glass or nails, can cause your tyres to be punctured.
It may sound ridiculous, but some Australians have seen screwdrivers stuck in their tyre. They had to pull them off using a pair of long nose pliers. The damage means they cannot be repaired and the tyre should be replaced.
Another reason why tyres get punctured is a large pothole on the road. Rocks can also rupture them, causing damage not only to the tyre but the rim as well. In some cases, they can also lead to the tyres splitting.
As much as possible, you need to be careful when driving. Avoiding potholes and debris can truly help even though it may seem challenging. A good practice is to check the condition of the road before you drive to prevent punctures.
However, if your tyres already have small punctures, you do not always have to resort to changing them. We all know replacing tyres is expensive and time-consuming. If the holes are small, you can repair the damage before it is too late.
Here are some tips for fixing a punctured tyre:
- Instead of buying a new one, simply patch the tire that has a hole. Remove the valve caps when you fix it.
- Make sure no one is inside the vehicle when you fix the damaged tire.
- It is usually better to remove the tyre first before you get rid of the cause, such as a screw or nail.
- Make the hole bigger using a raspier tool. You may need a lubricant to insert the tool. Many kits come with a lubricant; otherwise, you can use vaseline or WD40.
You will also need a rubber repair plug, which you should insert just like with the raspier tool.
Other tools that you will need are repair cords, cord insertion tool, reamer, and pliers.
If you have a tubeless tyre, you can use a tyre puncture kit.
Even after you have fixed the punctured tyre, it is still necessary to visit a mechanic.
Safety Precautions When Changing a Flat Tyre
Changing your tyre is not just about successfully replacing the flat tyre with a new one. It is also about ensuring your safety and your car’s as well. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Always change your tyre in a safe location. When you know that you have a flat tyre, it is unsafe to turn or step on the brakes abruptly. Scan your surroundings first as you slowly decelerate.
- Look for a flat side of the road. If you find an empty car park, it is best to go there. You need a level ground so that your car will not start rolling as you replace the tyre. A straight road is also ideal, so you do not have to worry about not being seen by oncoming vehicles.
- Some cars have specific steps to follow. While changing the tyre involves common methods, it is best to consult your owner’s manual before you proceed.
- Keep your hazard lights on. These flashers enable other drivers to see you while you work on your car. You can turn them on as soon as you notice that you have a flat, which will signal other drivers that you need to pull over.
- Use the parking brake. It will help reduce any instance of your car rolling.
Utilise wheel wedges. Put them in front of the tyres or even behind them. They help keep your car from moving while you fix it. Put the wedge in front of the tyre if you are working on the rear tyre.
- Aside from these precautions, it is also required that Australian citizens understand the laws concerning tyres and changing them.
Rules and Regulations to Follow in Australia
You need to check your tyres to make sure they function properly regularly. It also helps avoid accidents, which may be due to lack of driver’s control over the steering wheel and the car itself.
In Australia, it is part of general maintenance of the vehicle to check the tyre pressure at least once a month regularly.
The amount of tread can tell whether or not the car is still eligible for a roadworthy certificate. If it is less than 1.5mm, it should be replaced right away.
A study showed that Aussie drivers who are at least 65 years old are the most competent when it comes to essential car maintenance, including changing flat tyres. Those who are 18 to 25 were mostly unaware of the steps.
Flat tyres, when not replaced, can cause accidents. However, not parking safely while fixing the problem can also be the reason for an unfortunate event. In fact, tragically in 2017, a woman was killed while changing her tyre after getting hit by a bus on the Warringah Freeway.
To avoid accidents, the Australian Design Rules (ADR) specified the regulations governing tyres:
ADR 42 states that the guard should effectively cover both the wheel and tyre.The standard also covers the distance between the centre of the wheel and the guard. Since there is a rule, low-riding and modified cars may be illegal.
All tyres are required to meet ADR 23 regulations before they are fitted to any car. ADR 23 does not specify the type of construction for tyres. Therefore, older styles are still legal for use and fitting. However, these tyres should meet test standards first, such as bead unseating, tyre endurance and strength, speed performance, and resistance.
When changing tyres, it is essential that you see that the new one comes with a service description. Inspect it first and see that there are speed rating details and dimensions among others.
What to Consider Before You Hire a Towing Service
If your car is no longer driveable or you fail to fix the flat tyre issue, you can call a towing service for help. The assistance that you will receive will depend on a few things.
Most of the time, your roadside assistance provider will determine if they should tow the car to a nearby mechanic. You can be charged extra if you go over the kilometre limit.
The car towing industry in Australia is benefiting from the rise of the number of vehicles on the road. With many vehicles around, there is always a potential of a breakdown, which stimulates the demand for a towing service.
The industry is projected to increase 0.3% annually over the next five years starting from 2018. With that in mind, many drivers who get in trouble on the road due to a flat tyre want to know how much the service will cost them.
Some factors affect the towing price, including:
- The distance between the location of the tow truck to the pickup destination
- The exact location where your car should be dropped off
- The day of the week and time where after-hours and weekends typically cost more
- Your vehicle type and size
- Your special instructions, such as when the vehicle is no longer driveable or steerable
It is always a good idea to save the numbers of reputable car towing service providers on your phone. This way, you can get help no matter where you are in Australia.
Make sure the companies are accredited and licenced with tow truck drivers complying with the Accident Towing Services Act and the Accident Towing Services Regulations.
And Finally Our Thoughts on Best Rated Tyre Brands
Even if you have the best tyre out there, it will not prevent unavoidable blowout. Nevertheless, a high-quality one can withstand many challenges, and therefore, they have a longer life than inferior brands.
A good tyre also presents enhanced stopping distances and better fuel economy. In wet conditions, it has better grip and does not produce a lot of noise.
Some of the top tyre brands in Australia are:
Michelin: For SUVs, the Michelin tyres are among the best brands out there, scoring high on value for money, wet weather performance, and overall satisfaction.
Pirelli: For sports cars, Pirelli is considered the most popular brand. However, the tyres are not ideal for family vehicles. They are also quite pricey and may not last as long as the other tyres.
Goodyear and Continental Tyres: For small cars that are looking for reliable tyres, these two brands are among the top options. They offer value and longevity.
Roadstone: If you are searching for an all-season tyre brand, Roadstone is a trusted company across the country.
Despite having an excellent brand of tyres for your car, it will not replace your knowledge in changing a flat tyre.
This skill is necessary so you do not have to be stranded on the road or wait for a towing service or roadside assistance.