Spare change

Here’s the lowdown on what to do when your van cops a flat.

Motorhome & Caravan Trader - - Front Page - Words

Chang­ing a car­a­van tyre is one of the sim­plest ‘tech­ni­cal’ things you can do, but get it wrong and it’ll end in tears. There are some things about chang­ing a wheel on a car­a­van that are very dif­fer­ent to what you might be used to on a ve­hi­cle.

Be­fore you even go on tour and dis­cover that you’ve got a flat tyre, you need to in­clude your spare tyre in your pre-trip checks.

One thing that is easy to for­get with a spare tyre – es­pe­cially one that you have been lucky enough to not need to use be­fore – is that they only last so long.

Rub­ber hard­ens over time and, af­ter five years, a tyre be­comes more likely to blow out when used on the van, no mat­ter how much tread it has re­main­ing.

Hav­ing a spare wheel cover will help the tyre last a bit longer, as ex­po­sure to sun­light in­creases the rub­ber’s age­ing process. But if I was go­ing on an ex­tended trip, I’d re­place an un­used spare tyre not long af­ter it had reached its sixth birth­day.

You can find out how old the tyre is by find­ing its four-digit con­struc­tion date on the side­wall. It’ll look some­thing like ‘4216’, which means, in this case, that the tyre was made in the 42nd week of 2016.

The spare tyre should be in­flated to the rec­om­mended pres­sure on the van’s com­pli­ance plate.

One fi­nal thing to check be­fore you go is that your van is equipped with a jack and wheel brace. You might’ve only re­cently bought the van and never thought to check, or you’ve taken it out and for­got­ten to re­place it.

Many older vans don’t seem to have a jack and wheel brace, so now’s the time to buy them.

It’s a good idea to also buy a cou­ple of wheel chocks and a block of wood to take along.

We’ll ex­plain why be­low.


To re­cap, you need to check the spare tyre has enough tyre pres­sure and that it is within its use pe­riod.

You will also need a wheel brace to suit the wheel nuts of your van, a jack that suits your van, a tyre pres­sure gauge, wheel chocks, a block of wood, a warn­ing tri­an­gle and a high-vis vest.

When you dis­cover you have a tyre punc­ture, park the van on ground that’s as level and firm as pos­si­ble.

If it’s a slow air leak that you’ve dis­cov­ered dur­ing

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