We’ve all been there. For so long, we drive our cars thinking “it’ll never happen to me” until one day the inevitable happens – the dreaded flat tyre.
In fact, it’s likely that you’ll find yourself having to change a tyre at the worst possible time (late for a job interview) and/or worst possible place (the side of the freeway during peak hour).
We can’t stop you from experiencing a flat tyre, but we can equip you with a few tips to avoid the common problems that most people encounter when changing a flat tyre. Read on to know the ways of changing a car tyre quickly and safely so that you can soon get back on the road.
It Happens On A Busy Road
If all flat tyres occurred on a quiet residential street with plenty of space, life would be a whole lot easier. However, this is rarely the case for most motorists.
Safety is paramount in this situation, so it’s important to be cautious. Try and pull your car over in a safe spot with a relatively flat surface. If you need to drive a little further at crawling speed, do so to get yourself a safe spot (remember to turn your hazard lights on). Once you have reached a safe area, ensure your handbrake is firmly applied.
Some vehicles have warning triangles that come in the boot, so it’s a good idea to set this up at least 10 metres away to warn oncoming drivers. Nobody wants to be rear-ended or side-swiped by a passing car!
The Lug Nuts Are Too Tight
Of course, the one time you need to remove the lug nuts they are much too tight (probably because the mechanic used a drill last time). If you want to be well prepared, you can loosen the nuts in the comfort of your garage before you ever anticipate getting a flat (loosen them half a turn and then re-tighten firmly, ideally to the manufacturer’s specifications using a torque wrench).
If you haven’t had the foresight to do the above, you’ll find yourself with some work to do. In this case, leverage is your friend. If you had the foresight to pre-pack a water pipe to use as an extension you’ll be thankful. If not, you may find yourself tempted to stand on the wrench for greater force (be warned though, this can result in the wrench slipping off the nuts and causing damage or injury, hence this is not recommended).
Remember, the nuts loosen in an anti-clockwise direction.
Tools? What Tools?
Modern cars come with the appropriate tools to fix a flat tyre, but it’s always a good idea to check that they are indeed where they should be and are in working order. The necessary tools include a jack and a lug wrench.
You may also want to consider complementing the toolkit with a few extras: An extender pipe for greater leverage with your wheel wrench, a hydraulic jack to help lift the car easily, some rags (and gloves), a torch, and even a 12-volt air compressor if you want to be prudent.
Where Does The Jack Go?
Sometimes changing a flat sounds relatively easy and logical to fix, but when the time comes the finer details are not apparent. A commonly encountered issue is jack placement.
Every car has specific jacking points and these are detailed in the instruction manual and also often stickered onto the doorsill and the jack itself.
Become familiar with your vehicle’s jacking points or ensure you have the manual in the car in case of such an emergency.
The Wheel Won’t Come Off
So you’ve removed all of the lug nuts but the wheel won’t budge. You can try sitting down and giving the sidewalls a slight nudge with your foot, which should loosen it. Don’t use too much force, as you don’t want to damage anything or knock the car off the jack!
If this doesn’t work, screw a couple of opposing lug nuts back on by hand, remove the jack and try to drive the car back and forth a small amount.
It’s easy to forget about the spare tyre buried in the boot of your car until you actually need it. It’s crucial that you check the condition and air pressure of the spare tyre on a regular basis as it loses air too (nobody wants to be stranded with a flat tyre and a flat spare!).
To save boot space, many modern vehicles are fitted with a space-saving spare tyre, which is a smaller version that is rated to a much lower speed. These are usually enough to get you to the workshop, but it’s often a good idea to replace this with a full-size spare to match your car’s other tyres.
With the right planning and knowledge, a flat tyre doesn’t have to be the nightmare people make it out to be.