So you’re cruising down the highway, top down, wind in your hair, exhilarated about your brand new driving license when you hear a splat and a hiss followed by a slight rhythmic flapping coming from one of your tires. Having a flat tire is never a fun experience, and as most drivers will enlighten you, it happens at the most inopportune of times – late at night, on a dark, lonely stretch of road with no living being in sight and no cellphone signal (or a drained battery, choose your evil), when you are late for a game, or worse, a hot date.
And while you may have roadside assistance, there’s nothing much you can do to call for help without your trusted cellphone. You have no signal, remember? Moreover, depending on where you’re stuck and the time of day (or night), it could take hours for the professionals to get to you.
So why not learn how to change a flat yourself? It’s not that difficult, and once you know what goes where, it doesn’t take too long either.
What you need to change a tire
➢ Spare tire (always ensure that you have a spare tire stored in the trunk of your car for days like this)
➢ Car Jack
➢ Lug Wrench aka Tire Iron
First things first
The minute you realize you have a flat, pull out of traffic and find a safe place to park. Pick a spot that is firm, stable (avoid gravel or grass) and far away from traffic even if it means driving for some distance on a flat. Trust me, being rear-ended on the highway is way worse.
- Turn off your engine, switch on the hazard lights and engage the emergency or parking brake.
- Pop open the hood and trunk of your car. Use reflectors if you have them (or flares, if needed) and place them around the vehicle. All of this increases visibility and serves to alert other drivers of your presence.
- Locate your tools: Spare tire, car jack and tire iron.
- Find a large rock and wedge it under the tire that is diagonally opposite the flat. For example, say you have a flat on your left front tire. In this case, your rock will have to be placed directly behind the right rear tire.
Get the job done
- Start by removing the hub cap (use the flat end of the tire iron for this) and loosening the lug nuts. Don’t remove them yet.
- Consult your owner’s manual and find the best place to attach the jack. Then raise the car off the ground by an inch or two.
- Remove the lug nuts and keep aside. You cannot afford to lose even one of these. Pull off the tire and place it under your car…just in case your jack doesn’t hold.
- Then roll the spare over and position it in place. Put the lug nuts back on and tighten.
- Slowly lower your car back to the ground. It is important to now tighten the lug nuts as much as you can.
- Pile everything back into the trunk of your car. Leave no mess behind.
- Then drive to the nearest auto garage and have them check the lug nuts and the air pressure of the tire you just installed.
Remember. Get your flat repaired as soon as possible. You never know when you might need it again.