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Flat tyre? Read this for sensible (perhaps life-saving!) advice

  • Check tyres before you leave home
  • Know where the jack is – and how to use it 
  • First task: call freeway emergency service
THERE'S MANY BRANDS: Indeed, and many sizes and designs according to what you vehicle will be expected to do - but all can be punctured. Image: Supplied
THERE’S MANY BRANDS: Indeed, and many sizes and designs according to what you vehicle will be expected to do – but all can be punctured. Image: Supplied

LONDON, England – Sometimes the roads we drive on can be unpredictable,hich can cause a tyre puncture. This could mean cancelling our plans and waiting in a safe place for the breakdown recovery team.

In South Africa, of course, the risk of stopping on a freeway or main road can be serious, perhaps even fatal, given the current state of violence in the country. Call your dealer or roadside assistance insurer for help as soon as you stop.

Richard Gladman, IAM UK RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, has some useful advice on how to change a tyre…


If possible, pull off the road and into a safe area. If you have to stop on a road, place your warning triangle at least 45m behind your vehicle -except on a motorway (UK). Activate your hazard warning lights; raise you car’s bonnet or boot to advertise that you have a problem.

If you have a passenger get then to act as spotter to warn of approaching traffic.

Make sure the ground is flat, level, and unable to allow you jack to sink into it.

Locate the jack and wheelbrace: in the interest of speed, you should have checked where they are an how they can be accessed (this could be life-saving in South Africa!). Also, make sure you know how to locate your vehicle’s jacking points.


(Having, we hope, read this, do the above at the weekend in the safety of your driveway or parking garage. – Editor)

Make sure the handbrake is on, particularly if you are parked on a gradient. If there’s a handy rock or other solid object lying by the road, use it to chock a wheel on the side opposite to the punctured wheel.

Loosen the wheel nuts slightly before you start jacking the car – it will be unstable on three wheels. Remember one of the nuts might have a lock – make sure you can locate the key.

Having switched wheels, replace the wheel nuts at first by hand (it’s easier fitting the first two nuts opposite to each other!) Then tighten them each progressively before dropping the jack and do a final tighten when the tyre is on the road.


Remember that a  space-saver spare wheel has a speed restriction (usually 80km/h) and should be replaced by the correct tyre as soon as possible.

Gladman added: “Punctures are rare but the risk associated with a wheel-change has increased with the volume of traffic. And in South Africa, well, you know the danger these days…

”Safety has to be your main concern but, unless you cannot get to a safe area to make the change, get the vehicle off the road and call for assistance.

”A vehicle recovery service will have access to professional equipment which will allow a much speedier repair to be conducted.”

And a final note: Make a note of the tyre dimensions in case your tyre is destroyed by the puncturing object so the assistance team know what to bring. The details are on each tyre – if you’re not sure, ask your local garage or tyre dealer to show you

  • If on a South African freeway call the traffic management service immediately.

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