Just imagine, you are driving in a country road when suddenly you hear the flop flop of a flat tyre. Disheartening, isn’t it? Especially if it happens in the middle of nowhere. However, it is not something to worry about if you have a spare tyre and the tools to change the flat tyre. A flat tyre is one of the most common car problems that could happen at the most unexpected time and place. The number of cars I have bought that did not have a full set of tools and a good spare to go on with, is incredible. In fact, I think I have not ever bought one that had everything right without me asking. Seriously. So check yours out; or your children’s, especially if one of them may have purchased a used vehicle.
Having the right tools to change a flat tyre is critical. First it could save you money by not having your car towed to the nearest auto-shop or mechanic, not to mention having to pay the auto-shop for changing the flat tyre. Let me tell you, that will add up big time! Secondly, it could save you time. Getting a flat tyre in the middle of nowhere without the right tools and having to walk or wait for a passersby to help, is great pain. You also lose valuable time you will never get back! By having the right tools in place, you don’t need to wait for someone to help you out, or wait for a tow-truck to bring your car to the nearest auto-shop. Sure there might be people willing to help, however you have to wait and hope. Maybe you can take a ride with some good Samaritan and leave your car; although it is not really advisable to leave it especially if you happen to be on a country road. Who knows what could happen to your car if you leave it out there unattended. Changing the flat tyre would probably take around 20 minutes.
So what are the things we need to change a flat tyre?
1. Spare Tyre – obviously, you cannot change the the flat tyre without a ‘good’ spare. From time to time, I make it a point to check the pressure on the spare tyre to ensure that in case it is needed the spare tyre has the right pressure. It always makes me laugh when I look at the more modern vehicle spare tyres. They are not like they used to be. Some are like a bicycle tyre. And watch the speed rating on these too. Some are only rated to 80KM/hr or less. Be very careful if you have one of these in the boot!
2. Jack – The jack is used to lift the car enabling you to remove the flat tyre once it’s off the ground. Make sure to check your car’s user’s manual for the correct placement of the jack before cranking it. You want to replace a flat tyre, not to create further problems to you or your car because the jack is placed somewhere it’s not supposed to be. IMPORTANT! Remember that a car that is jacked off the ground is very dangerous!! Do not get under the car when it is jacked up. It can be risking your life to do this. Do not jack the car up in a dangerous place on the road where busy traffic is going to run you over. Also be aware that if you try to jack the car up on an incline it may fall off the jack!! Soft ground is also a no no. Make sure the hand brake is on and the car is in a low gear or in park. If you are at all unsure about jacking up a car safely do not do it! Get an expert to help. I have put these comments in here because this can be a deadly adventure if you are not aware of what you are doing.
3. Lug Wrench/Wrench – we need this to loosen the bolts or nuts from the wheel. Remember though, don’t remove the nuts or bolts from the wheel completely as it will make the car unstable. Breaking the lock of the nuts is best done prior to jacking the car up. Don’t undo them too much. Just a turn of the wheel brace at the most. Otherwise if you have the wheel in the air, it can spin or be quite springy and make it very difficult to crack the nut lock. Place the jack and crank it up until it has contact with your car’s frame. Again check your car’s user’s manual as to where the jack should be placed. Once the car is lifted enough, remove the bolts or nuts by hand and remove the flat tyre. Make sure to lay the tyre flat. You don’t want to have it rolling somewhere.
4. Tyre Pressure Gauge – I always have this tool handy and present in my car’s boot. Tyre pressure affects your car performance wise. Incorrect pressure on tyres can make the car unstable and hard to control, probably increase fuel consumption(most likely in under-inflated tyres) and can be a cause accidents. Having this tool and using it to determine that the tyres have the right pressure not only helps maintain the optimum performance of our cars but as well as contribute in our safety while driving.
Make sure to put the tools away too. It’s very easy to forget one or leave a mess in the boot. Here’s an important point. GET THE PROBLEM TYRE FIXED IMMEDIATELY! I don’t know how many times I have been caught with a flat tyre in the boot because I thought I’ll get that fixed tomorrow! Or, the problem tyre is the first of the batch ready to go. In the next day another one let’s go. What I have found is that often when the tread is low, nails and screws etc can penetrate that much easier. So don’t push your luck!
Of course we should have these tools in the boot of our cars, however for those who do not want to go through changing flat tyres themselves because of some reason or another I would suggest the following:
1. Have a Tyre Sealant Kit with you. Tyre Sealant Kits are devices that inject air and sealant into flat tyres when used. They are quite handy especially for people who do not have the strength to remove the bolts/ nuts from the wheels or don’t have a spare tyre. Using one of these products, is very easy and does not require much physical effort, except maybe patience in waiting for the tyre to be completely sealed and inflated. Make sure to read and follow the instructions given for this to work properly. However, there are some limitations on using Tyre Sealant Kits. One is, these are not permanent solution to the problem. After applying the kit, the tyre would still need to be changed or fixed. There’s also a limit to the number of miles and the speed that the car could be driven at using the sealant kit. Also, depending on the location of the damage on the tyre, the tyre sealant kit may not work so you need to check the damage on the tyre and find out if the sealant kit will fix it.
2. You don’t want or don’t have the means to change the flat tyre and the Tyre Sealant Kit you have, did not work because of the location of the damage on the tyre; then you may want to make use of the Emergency Roadside Assistance. This is a service provided to give aid to a motorist whose vehicle has a mechanical failure either at home or on the road. An example of such service is the RACV Emergency Roadside Assistance. They provide assistance if you encounter mechanical failure, flat tyre or even battery-related problems. To know more about the services and the plans they offer, you can just click on the link.
Given these options and tools that we could use, having a flat tyre should not be that great of a problem. It can happen at the most inconvenient of times but that is just the way it is. Things could happen that are beyond our control and the only means for us to lessen the inconvenience is to be prepared.