How to change a flat tyre on rough roads

How to change a flat tyre on rough roads

It’s a great skill for all drivers to know how to change a tyre, especially if you aren’t able to call for help. A flat tyre can happen anywhere, so it’s best to learn how to change a tyre for emergencies. The process isn’t hard, and it takes about 15-30 minutes to change a tyre. There are step-by-step manuals that guide you on how to do this in case of an emergency.

Causes of a flat tyre:

  • puncture – nails or glass. Vehicles travelling on rough roads should be aware of sharp stones or other sharp objects that can puncture through tyres.
  • failure or damage to the valve – air leaks out which is caused by corroded, loose or dirt clogged stem
  • rubbed or ripped tyre – worn-out tyre, worn areas, deeply scuffed
  • vandalism
  • tire bead leaks
  • over-pumped tyres (tyres normally have the maximum amount of air needed). Vehicles going over rough (non-tarred) roads need to be deflated a bit less than the maximum for extra grip and to prevent a tyre burst.
  • under- pumped tyres – when carrying a heavy load, tyres need to be pumped enough compensate for the extra kg’s
  • separation of the tyre and rim caused by a collision with another object
  • road hazards

Items required when changing a flat tyre

These items will come with the car. However, if they aren’t there or have been misplaced, it’s required to purchase new ones immediately.

  • Jack
  • Lug wrench
  • Spare tyre
  • Car owner’s manual
  • Orange or yellow road cones/triangle to protect yourself from moving vehicles on the road.

The next few items don’t come with the car, but it’s best to have them, these items can be used during dark nights and rainy days, to secure the wheels from rolling, and to prevent dirt, and cutting your hands with small objects.

  • Torch with working batteries
  • Raincoat
  • Wheel wedges
  • Gloves
  • Wooden 2″ x6″ plank to secure the jack – this is essential in the bush where you may be on soft sand roads! It will stop the jack from sinking.
  • It is always good, when going into the bush, to carry a tubeless puncture kit and a small compressor to plug into your cigarette lighter.

Step-by-step to change a flat tyre

Step 1 

Create/find a safe location where you can change the tyre. Make sure that you park away from oncoming traffic and avoid curves that hide your car, to prevent other drivers from hitting you. 

Check your surroundings for any animals, and if there are wild animals close by, wait and enjoy the scenery until they are a safe distance from you.

Reduce your speed limit radically while driving with a flat tyre, driving with a flat tyre will rip it and damage your wheel rim, and possibly even the car. Find level ground or a straight stretch of road. You can use the manual as a guide on what to do.

Make sure to turn on your hazard lights when you pull off on the side of the road or use orange or yellow safety cones or triangles. 

This will make other drivers aware of you and will prevent an accident from happening. After parking the car, make sure you pull up the hand brake to keep the vehicle motionless. In the bush, stop as quickly as you can safely do so, in the middle of the track. You don’t want to be brushing up against thorn bushes. Look around for a LONG time before leaving your vehicle to ensure there are no dangerous animals around. Keep an eye out for snakes and spiders. If you have passengers, have them keep a constant lookout for you.

Step 2 

If you own wheel wedges, place them behind or in front of the tyres to minimise movement. Place it in front of the front tyres if you are changing the rear tyres and if the front tyre is flat place the wheel wedges behind the rear tyres. Another alternative if you don’t own wheel wedges is to use bricks big enough to do the job. In the bush, look for small to medium rocks to wedge the wheels.

Step 3

Some cars have wheel covers, covering the lug nuts. Remove the wheel cover using the flat end of a lug wrench or a tool specifically made to remove wheel covers, before lifting the car with a jack.

Step 4 

After removing the wheel cover, the lug nuts will be exposed. Using a lug wrench loosen the nuts counterclockwise to about ¼ or ½, only remove them completely when it’s time to remove the tyre. If you find it difficult to loosen the nut use force using your body weight or foot.

Step 5 

Lift the car using the car jack by placing it under the car frame and make sure that the car jack is secure and won’t damage the car. On soft sand roads, place the jack on a plank – so always keep one in your vehicle so that your jack doesn’t sink into the soft sand. Don’t go under the car while it is being lifted or any time after that. Raise the car until the flat tyre is six inches above the ground.

Step 6

Once the car has been lifted up, you may now completely remove the lug nuts by hand. Use both hands to remove the tyre. Grip the treads and pull it towards you carefully and put it on its side when it’s entirely removed from the hub.

Step 7

Take the spare tyre and place it where the flat tyre was, line up the rim with the lug bolts and gently push it until the lug bolts show through the rim. Put the lug nut back on the lug bolts, tighten the lug nuts by hand as much as possible. Once the lug nuts have been tightened by hand, and the spare tyre is secure, use the jack to lower the car till it touches the ground. Fasten the lug nuts with the lug wrench turning it clockwise, use your body weight to tighten the lug nuts.

Step 8 

Bring the wheel all the way down to the ground and remove the jack, making sure that the lug nuts are tight. Put the wheel cover back over the wheel if it fits. When you’re done, make sure all the tools that you used are packed back in the car, as well as the flat tyre!

Step 9  

If you are in the bush, I can guarantee that your passengers have broken out the cooler box and have been cracking a cold one while you have been busy with that tyre! So, now you can join them!

Download a step-by-step guide to changing a flat tyre.


You can’t completely prevent a flat tyre, but maintenance goes a long way to avoid one. Regular tyre checks will ensure that your tyres are not worn too thin, and therefore reduce the chances of a flat tyre, and will improve performance – and fuel usage.

  • Safety first – On the open road, always make sure that you are changing the tyre without risk of being hit by another driver. Put out the road cones and triangles a few meters around the vehicle so that they have enough place to move around yourself.
  • Ensure your hazard lights are on.
  • Make sure to keep tyres inflated including the spare tyre for emergencies
  • Check for tyre pressure on the spare tyre to ensure a safe drive
  • Monitoring tread wear for any worn or damaged tyres
  • Clean rims of dirt and rust from lock ring and gutter
  • Discard damaged, corroded or worn parts
  • Take the flat tyre to a technician for a repair or replacement
  • Check your surroundings for any animals if you are in the wild. Buck are safe and will quickly disappear but stay in your vehicle if there are elephants, buffalo and rhinos around.