Imagine you are speeding off to work on the express, you look at your watch and smile because you know that today, you will beat the traffic and make it in time for the office breakfast. Just when everything seems to be going fantastic you hear a loud noise from your car and a whistle of air, that’s your tire making the most saddening noise. YOU HIT A NAIL! And now you have a flat tire in the middle of the highway! Talk about village people!
In such situations, trust me you don’t want to panic before you get yourself in more harm’s way, I know from experience. The Federal road safety commission gives us a few tips on what is best to do in such situations.
- SLOW DOWN. It is first and foremost the responsibility of other drivers to slow down when they see vehicles at the side of the road and to change lanes away from the stalled vehicles using their turn signals.
- Grip the steering wheel. At the first sign of tire trouble, firmly grip your steering wheel.
- Don’t slam on the brakes. Let the car slow down gradually by removing your foot from the gas pedal.
- If you have to, change lanes. Use your signal and do so carefully. Watch the traffic around you closely.
- Don’t stop in traffic. It’s better to roll your vehicle off the roadway and into a safe place than it is to stop in traffic and risk a rear-end car accident or side collision with other cars.
- Move to safe grounds. Drive to a traffic-free area. The area should also be stable and flat. Driving a short distance on a flat tire to a very safe, traffic-free area could literally save your life. Don’t worry about your tire. You can drive on a flat if you avoid sudden movements.
- Turn on your emergency flashers. Just because you are in a safe area away from traffic doesn’t clear you. Make sure your flashers are on so other drivers can see you and so they realize there is a problem with your vehicle.
- Don’t stand behind your car or next to your car. Stay in your car and wait for help to arrive if you’re on a busy highway and it is not safe to walk to a secure place.
Once you are in a safe zone where you can change your tyres(always have a good spare tyre in the boot), get out the tools which you will need, which include:
- Lug wrench
- Fully inflated spare tire
- Wheel wedge
REMOVE THE HUBCAP OR WHEEL COVER
If your vehicle has a hubcap covering the lug nuts, it’s easier to remove the hubcap before lifting the vehicle with the jack. If your lug nuts are exposed, you can skip ahead to Step 6.
Use the flat end of your lug wrench to remove the hubcap. This will work for most vehicles, but some hubcaps need a different tool to come off. Consult your owner’s manual for proper hubcap or wheel cover removal procedures.
LOOSEN THE LUG NUTS
Using the lug wrench, turn the lug nuts counterclockwise until you break their resistance. You may have to use force, and that’s ok. Use your foot or all of your body weight if necessary.
Loosen the lug nuts about ¼ to ½ of a turn, but don’t remove them completely yet. Save that for when it’s time to remove your tire/wheel from the vehicle.
PLACE THE JACK UNDER THE VEHICLE
The right place for the jack is usually beneath the vehicle frame alongside the tire that’s flat. Many vehicle frames have moulded plastic on the bottom with a cleared area of exposed metal specifically for the jack. To safely lift and avoid damage to the vehicle, follow the instructions for jack placement in your vehicle owner’s manual.
RAISE THE VEHICLE WITH THE JACK
To prevent the jack from settling under the weight of your vehicle and coming off balance, place a small cut of 2×6” wood beneath it before attempting to raise your vehicle. This tactic is especially helpful on asphalt.
With the jack properly positioned, raise the vehicle until the flat tire is about six inches above the ground.
Never put any part of your body under the vehicle during or after raising the vehicle with the jack.
UNSCREW THE LUG NUTS
Now it’s time to remove the lug nuts all the way. Since you’ve already loosened them, you should be able to unscrew them mostly by hand.
REMOVE THE FLAT TIRE
Gripping the tire by the treads, pull it gently toward you until it’s completely free from the hub behind it. Set it on its side so that it doesn’t roll away.
MOUNT THE SPARE TIRE ON THE LUG BOLTS
Now place the spare on the hub; by lining up the rim with the lug bolts. Push gently until the lug bolts show through the rim.
TIGHTEN THE LUG NUTS BY HAND
Put the lug nuts back on the lug bolts and tighten them all the way by hand. Once they are all on, check each one again, tightening as much as possible. You will tighten them with the wrench after lowering the vehicle to the ground.
LOWER THE VEHICLE AND TIGHTEN THE LUG NUTS AGAIN
Use the jack to lower the vehicle so that the spare tire is resting on the ground but the full weight of the vehicle isn’t fully on the tire. At this point, you should tighten the lug nuts with the wrench, turning clockwise, as much as you can. Push down on the lug wrench with the full weight of your body.
LOWER THE VEHICLE COMPLETELY
Bring the vehicle all the way to the ground and remove the jack. Give the lug nuts another pull with the wrench to ensure they’re as tight as possible.
REPLACE THE HUBCAP
If the hubcap you took from the flat tire will fit your spare, put it in place the same way you removed it initially. If it doesn’t fit, stow it away with the tire when you stow your equipment.
If this feels all too cumbersome to do alone or you rather would have a mechanic help you out instead of getting your hands dirty and sweaty, you can easily find one on Gatekrasher app that will help you out immediately.