Can You Change A Tire With Someone In The Car?

It’s Monday morning, and you are on your way to work. Suddenly there is a bang, and the front left corner of the car drops. With a sinking feeling, you realize that you have had a puncture. If you have occupants in the car, what do you do with them? Do you change the tire with them in the car or force them to disembark?

You can’t change a tire with someone in the car because the car could become unbalanced and slip off the jack, damaging the car and injuring the person changing the wheel. In addition, it is illegal to change a wheel if a person is left in the car.

Punctures and tire blowouts don’t always happen in convenient places; they often occur on the side of a busy road or uneven paths out in the countryside with a car full of people.

The circumstances are probably not ideal, and there is a temptation to take the easy route and not force all passengers to get out of the car while changing the wheel. However, the question remains is this legal, and is it safe?

How Safe Are Car Jacks?

Original car jacks supplied by most manufacturers can temporarily lift the car for a quick tire change and subsequently lower the wheel back to the surface of the road.

The problem with car jacks is not that they are underpowered. The issue is that the vehicle is lifted at the corner where the damaged tire is. When raised, the car is much less stable, and only three wheels remain on the road.

You can quickly feel the car’s instability every time another vehicle speeds past. If the ground is even slightly unlevel or the surface is not as hard as you like, the instability of the jacked-up car will be worsened.

You may believe that the weight of your passengers is insignificant, but the jacked-up car’s balance is so precarious that even a slight shift in the passengers’ weight can send the car toppling. If the car wobble too much, it may slip off the jack, which could damage the wheel hub, chassis, or even worse, someone is injured.

The action of taking the heavy spare wheel out of the trunk could upset the balance of the vehicle. Therefore, removing the spare wheel from the trunk is essential before raising the car with the jack.

The Safest Way To Change A Tire

When you change the tire, follow the steps listed below to achieve this as efficiently and safely as possible:

  1. Turn on your hazard blinkers
  2. If possible, choose the safest place to pull over; this should be level, solid, and away from the road and passing traffic.
  3. Activate the handbrake, put the car into park (automatic transmission) and first gear (manual transmission)
  4. Ask everyone to get out of the car. They should sit on the verge as far away from moving traffic as possible. Open the compartment where the spare wheel and tire changing kit is kept; typically, the compartment is located in the car’s trunk.
  5. Take your spare wheel out of the trunk.
  6. Place the jack supplied with the car in the correct position to raise the damaged tire off the ground.
  7. Loosen the lug nuts on the wheel; however, do not take them off completely.
  8. Fit the jack to the correct part of the car’s underside (you can find where this is by studying the vehicles manual)
  9. Raise the jack
  10. Remove the lug nuts completely
  11. Take the damaged wheel off the hub
  12. Install the spare wheel in its place.
  13. Attach the lug nuts and lightly tighten them
  14. Drop the jack and remove it from the car
  15. Tighten the lug nuts. You should tighten them to where they can’t rotate anymore. It is vital to tighten them sufficiently. You don’t want a bad day to get worse by watching your tire part company with your car!
  16. Put your spare wheel back in the trunk
  17. Pack up the changing kit and store it safely.
  18. You can proceed on the route. Depending on the spare tire specifications, you may have to restrict the speed you travel at and the distance traveled.
  19. Have your main tire repaired a soon as possible.

While raising the car, you must implement as many safety rules as possible. The most important are listed below.

General Safety Checklist For Changing A Tire

  1. Never lie under a car that is only supported by a single jack.
  2. Always use vehicle stands on a hard floor if you work under the car.
  3. Never allow a passenger (person or pet) to remain in the vehicle while being jacked.
  4. Always use the jack which was supplied with your vehicle. Preferably do not use another vehicle’s jack to raise the car and never exceed the capacity of the jack.
  5. Always jack the vehicle upon solid level ground.
  6. Never use stands that are not explicitly designed to raise a car. Don’t use blocks of wood or bricks.
  7. The handbrake must be on, and the car should be in Park (Automatic transmission) or first gear (Manual transmission) before you raise the car.
  8. Always ‘chock’ the wheels on a raised vehicle to stop the car from rolling forward or backward.
  9. Always partly loosen the wheel nuts before raising the car. Once the car is lifted, you can completely unscrew and remove the wheel nuts.

Why Would You Want To Let Someone Stay In the Car While Changing Tires?

Murphy’s law states that “what could go wrong will go wrong.” With tire puncture or blowouts, this law invariably seems to apply; conditions are rarely perfect when tire damage occurs.

It may be pouring with rain; surfaces may be slippery; traffic may be flying past on busy roads. The occupants may be young children or older and infirm adults.

Getting them out of the car may be inconvenient and time-consuming.

Whatever the inconvenience is, the danger of the occupants unbalancing the vehicle is too great to risk possible injury and damage. The risk of harm to people is so significant that some jurisdictions have made it illegal to change a tire while people or pets remain in the car.

Once the occupants are out of the car, ensure they stay safe and away from the road. If they are young children, make sure a responsible adult looks after them while changing the wheel.

 If you need assistance in keeping the occupants safe while you change the wheel, call a family friend, a roadside assistance service, police, or a similar party to come and help you.

Safety is always the priority, and, in these circumstances, it is better to make sure you and the other occupants stay safely in the vehicle until help arrives rather than trying to change the wheel yourself while looking after vulnerable people.


You cannot change a tire while a person or pet remains in the car. Changing a tire while someone stays in the car is a safety violation that can have significant consequences should the car fall onto you.

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