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How to jack up a car and fit a spare wheel

Next Level - Common Maintenance Jobs

How to jack up a car and change a tyre

What’s the best way to jack up your vehicle when you need to change a wheel? A trolley jack provides the best degree of stability and strength, but your emergency jack (also known as a scissor jack) is designed to lift one corner of the car to enable a wheel change. There's also one other type of car jack.

How to jack up your car

The safe way to jack up your car

Always observe the following precautions when jacking up a vehicle:

  1. Park the vehicle on firm, level ground and block the wheels.
  2. Put the transaxle/transmission in Park (automatic) or neutral (manual).
  3. If applicable, any passengers should exit the car and move to a safe area, even if the weather is poor.
  4. If you’re changing a tyre, loosen the wheel nuts before you raise the vehicle. It’s dangerous to try to loosen them after the wheel is off the ground.
  5. Where does the car jack go? On some vehicles, you’ll find a notch in the longitudinal seam that protrudes downward below the rocker panel; on others, you’ll find lifting pads on the underside of the vehicle, right behind the front wheel housings and immediately in front of the rear wheel housings. If you can’t locate the designated jacking areas on your vehicle, refer to your owner’s manual.
  6. Get the jack out of the boot (If you can’t find the jack, refer to your owner’s manual). It's usually beneath the spare wheel, so remove that, too.
  7. Place the jack in position under the side of the vehicle and closest to the wheel to be changed, and adjust the jack height until it fits between the notches in the vertical rocker panel flange - or touches the lifting pad.
  8. Operate the jack with a slow, smooth motion until the wheel is off the ground.
  9. Remove the wheels nuts by hand, pull off the wheel, install the spare and thread the wheel nuts on with the beveled sides facing in. Tighten them snugly, but wait until the vehicle is lowered to tighten them completely.
  10. Lower the vehicle to the ground and remove the jack. Don’t forget to tighten the lug nuts. If possible, tighten them to the specified torque (see your owner’s manual), in a criss-cross pattern. If you don’t know the torque specification, tighten the lug nuts securely and have them checked by a service station as soon as you get to the next town.
  11. If your vehicle is equipped with a space-saver spare wheel, remember that it’s intended only for temporary use until the regular tyre can be repaired. Do not exceed 50 mph while using the temporary spare.

Safety precautions when changing a tyre on your car

The scissor jack supplied with your vehicle is designed by the manufacturer only for raising the vehicle to change a tyre in an emergency. Don’t even think about using it for anything else!

No matter what jack you are using, you should never rely on it if your life is on the line, and only get under the car once jack stands are holding it securely. You could receive serious injuries working under the vehicle using a jack as the only means of support, and OEM spare tyre jacks fail or allow the car to roll with alarming frequency.

Always observe the following precautions when jacking up a vehicle:

  • Park the vehicle on stable, level ground and block the wheels you aren't going to remove.
  • Put the transmission in Park (automatic) or leave in gear (manual) and set the parking brake (both).
  • Locate and remove the jack, wheel nut wrench and spare tyre from the car. If they are not in the boot, check behind storage panels in the cargo area or under the back seat. Occasionally they are also stored under the bonnet next to the motor or under, or behind, the front seat of a pick-up truck.
  • Never work under the car while using a scissor jack.

How to use different types of jack

Lift your car correctly

The jack that sits with your spare tyre in your boot is really only meant for emergencies. In this short video we show you how to use the different types of jacks and when you might want to use them.