Changing your Tyres: A Guide - AllCarIndex

Changing your Tyres: A Guide

Jan 31, 2023

Your tyres perform an important function on your car. As such, they should never be neglected. You might find that by treating them properly, and replacing them regularly, you'll be able to enjoy a range of performance, safety and economic benefits. 

Specifically, it's a good idea to use a tyre that's specialised for the conditions you're driving in. That means a summer tyre during summer, and a winter tyre during winter.

What tools do I need?

A second-hand car might not come with all of the equipment you need to change a tyre. As such, it's worth taking a look through the handbook and determining exactly what's required. If there's anything missing, then you might ask for a discount – before going shopping for replacements.

You will definitely need:

- A jack

- A spare wheel

- A locking wheel-nut adapter

Other items, like pressure gauges, torches, gloves, emergency triangles and wire-clippers are nice to have – but they're not essential. You can buy spare tyres online, so make sure your car comes with one.

What tyre do I need?

All of the important characteristics of a given tyre should be written on the sidewall. This information is expressed in a kind of short code. It's a bit like your car's registration number: not just random characters, but clusters of information, each of which tells you something significant.

The first number indicates the width of the tyre. It's in millimetres.

The second number shows the height of the sidewall. It's expressed as a percentage of the first number.

The next chunk is a letter, usually R. This tells you how the tyre has been constructed.

Next is a number: the diameter of the wheel the tyre is made to fit, in inches.

Next is the car's load rating. This gets a little bit complicated – what matters is that your new tyres should be rated as highly as the old ones.

Next we have another letter, the speed rating. Performance vehicles will need high-performance tyres. If you don't plan on travelling faster than 87mph, then you don't technically need a tyre that's rated better than N. In practice, it's worth going much higher than that.

Finally, you'll get a pair of characters which indicate that the tyre has been tested by regulators. 

Changing a tyre

So, how do you go about changing a tyre? It's a procedure that can be a little bit intimidating, especially if you've never done it before.

First, make sure the handbrake is on and the car is unoccupied. Then, put the wheel chocks on, loosen the nuts, and jack the car up. Remove the old, flat tyre, and replace it with the new one. You'll need to tighten the bolts when the car is low enough for the tyre to touch the ground. Check the pressure when you're done.

Using a pressure sensor

Many modern tyres come equipped with a direct system for monitoring tyre pressure. This makes life slightly more complicated if you're changing the tyre. Get a professional to do it instead.