Change a Flat Tire by Yourself

The abruptly changing driving experience tempts many surprised drivers to brake hard or steer hectically. However, this can cause them to completely lose control of their car and lead to serious accidents.

A car with a flat tire usually remains quite controllable. So keep your head cool and keep steering straight. Then switch on the hazard warning lights and drive to the side of the road in a controlled manner.

If an exit or service area is within reach, you can reach it at walking speed.

If the puncture occurs on the motorway, you should drive onto the hard shoulder.

In order to protect yourself and warn the rest of the traffic, you should then put on a warning vest and position the warning triangle at an appropriate distance. This will prevent serious secondary accidents from occurring. Once you and your passengers have been brought to safety, the question arises as to how the breakdown can be rectified.

Repairing the car tyre? The breakdown kit

The tire’s flat, what now?

Depending on how damaged the tyre is in the event of a puncture, different approaches can lead to success. For smaller cracks or perforations, a repair kit can be helpful.

The sealant it contains – a tyre sealant spray, for example – only fixtures the tyres to such an extent that you can carefully drive a short distance – for example to the nearest workshop.

The set has the advantage of being quickly at hand in the event of a puncture. It takes up very little space in the car. But keep in mind: By intervening, you prevent your car tyre from being repaired. The sealant contained in the set means that the treated wheel may no longer be repaired in Germany. This is determined by the StVZO.

If the car tyre has burst, no repair is possible for the car tyre. In this case, a set offers no help. Even a defective valve cannot be repaired.

After the tyre has been sealed, it should be inflated again using a tyre inflation compressor.

Spare tyres or runflat tyres?

It becomes clear that no set can help with some punctures. If the tyre is too damaged – for example because the tyre has burst – it must be replaced. There are two possible options: The spare wheel and the emergency wheel.

In principle, drivers are perfectly equipped with a spare wheel: It is a fully-fledged car tyre that is adapted to the respective car. In the event of a puncture, it simply has to be fitted instead of the broken tyre and the journey can continue without restriction.

However, you should exercise caution during the first few kilometres and head for the next petrol station: spare wheels usually have too little pressure.

However, a spare wheel takes up a lot of space in the car. If there is no suitable holder under the car, the spare wheel often takes up half of the boot.

Emergency wheels for passenger cars score points in comparison with a smaller size and a lighter weight. However, the mounting effort is just as high as for a spare tyre. But an emergency wheel offers only a temporary solution: drivers must not drive faster than 80 km/h with it and must try as quickly as possible to find a new car tyre to replace the puncture tyre.

Burst tyres? The emergency service helps with punctures

If you feel overwhelmed by a puncture, you can contact a breakdown service. To do this, you can compare different providers on the Internet. The best known is probably the ADAC. After calling a breakdown service, helpers will come to your location as soon as possible to repair the breakdown.

If the breakdown occurred in a dangerous place, your car may have to be towed to a garage before the puncture itself can be repaired.

Each breakdown service offers different services. It is worth making an extensive comparison to find out which provider suits you best.

The driver is himself: step by step through tyre changing after a puncture

The tire blew, what now? When changing tyres, pay attention to the information in the vehicle documents.
The tyre has burst, what now? When changing tyres, pay attention to the instructions in the vehicle documents.

Not every puncture has to be dealt with by reaching for the telephone. If you are not at a dangerous point on the road, you can also change the defective tyre without a breakdown service. The following steps have to be considered:

  • Switch off the engine.
  • Apply the handbrake and engage a gear in addition.
  • Have the spare wheel and tools ready.
  • Loosen the wheel nuts of the broken wheel approx. half a turn.
  • Attach the jack and lift your car to the appropriate height.
  • Pay attention to the instructions on the stickers on the jack.
  • If the floor is soft, stabilise the jack by placing a board under it.
  • Loosen the wheel nuts completely and mount the spare wheel.
  • Tighten the nuts by hand.
  • Lower the trolley again.
  • Tighten the nuts crosswise with the wheel nut wrench.

Remember to collect all tools and your warning triangle and stow them safely before continuing. Check the air pressure of the new tyre at the nearest petrol station. After about 50 to 100 kilometres, the nuts should be retightened.

If it is a fully-fledged spare tyre, not an emergency wheel, you should replace it as soon as possible. Otherwise the next puncture will be much more difficult to master.

How does a flat car tyre develop?

According to the ADAC, a puncture occurs every ten years. Statistically, almost every driver is confronted with a flat tire at least once. But how does this happen? Knowing why a tyre bursts or loses air can help prevent it: If you take a few points into account, you can significantly reduce the risk of a puncture in your car.

Defective valve: The puncture is pre-programmed

The tyre valve can be used to regulate the pressure of the tyre by letting air out or pumping it in. Each car tyre should be inflated to a certain pressure to run optimally.

The valve is a certain weak point: At this point, otherwise closed system of tyre is open. It must be able to withstand the overpressure from inside the tyre. A faulty valve will allow the air to gradually escape.

Depending on whether the valve is simply leaking or otherwise defective, the air may only escape under load at higher speeds.

This is expressed by the fact that the car “pulls” more and more in one direction.