Changing a flat tire is not a very pleasant thing. However, sooner or later this nasty problem will happen to every car owner. Sometimes it seems that your car tries to get a flat tire at the mostly inappropriate moments, when you are hurrying to the work in the morning, for instance. Or you are driving along and thinking over an important meeting agenda and suddenly your car pulls to one side and you hear that terrible flapping sound of a flat tire.
Of course there are some lucky owners of run-flat tires or a low tire-pressure warning system. In this case a driver may avoid the icky process. Many drivers nowadays call to roadside assistance service; they come and fix the flats. However it is smart to know how to change the flat tires yourself. As its a very common occurrence, car manufacturers try to make the tire change process so easy that anyone can do this.
Before You Start Out
It is very useful to have the car serviced before starting a road trip. Particular attention should be paid to tires. Carefully examine any spot. Iffy tires must be changed into new ones as it?s better to start out with new tires than change them later in the middle of nowhere.
Every driver should be familiarized with the set of tools used for tire change. Most cars are equipped with a jack, lug wrench and spare tire. If you don?t know how to use these tools read your owner?s manual. Examine your spare tire to make sure that it is in a good shape.
Remember: it will take you only a few minutes to check your tool set but if you do this it will help you later when you find yourself on the roadside with a flat.
Besides the lack, lug wrench and spare tire you should put into your boot the following items in order to make flat change as easy and comfortable as possible: flashlight (with extra batteries), gloves, mat to kneel on, plastic rain poncho, tire gauge and tire blocks.
Changing a flat tire
1. Find the right spot. Getting off the freeway is what you must do even if you have to drive on a flat tire. But keep in mind the longer you drive on a flat, the greater the chance you?ll damage it beyond repair. So look for the first suitable spot to repair your car and if possible pull it on shoulder. Never park in the middle of the curve, as approaching cars won?t be able to see you. Also do not park you car on the hill as it is dangerous to jack it up there. Don?t forget to set your parking brake. To be really safe put two bricks in front of and behind the tire opposite the flat. This will prevent your car from rolling. And don?t forget to turn the emergency flashers.
2. Get the spare, wrench and the jack from the boot of the car and bring them to the working area. Use other tools if necessary.
3. Loose the lug nuts with the wrench. There are usually 4 or 5 of them. Sometimes they are hidden under a hubcap. Remove it. Don?t remove the lug nuts at this point, just loosen them. If the nuts are very firmly tighten place the wrench on the nut and stand on the wrench arm to use your full weight or just try to hit the wrench arm with a rock.
4. To get the wheel off you need to raise the corner of the car. So lift the vehicle off the ground with a jack. Keep in mind that different models of cars have different places to put the jack. If you can?t find this place on your car consult with your owner?s manual. When the jack is firmly fixed raise the car until the tire is about six inches off the ground.
5. Remove the old wheel. For this you should remove the nuts with your hand and put them aside. Take the wheel by two sides of the tire. Pull the wheel straight out and off. Then roll it to one side.
6. Place the spare wheel on the car. Match the lug nut posts to the holes in the spare. Then fix the spare in a wheel base firmly.
7. Tighten the lug nuts in the proper order. But don?t fix the nuts very tightly just make sure that the wheel can stay on the car for a moment.
8. Lower the car to ground level fully with the jack. Remove the jack from underneath of the car.
9. Now when the car is lowered on the ground you can tighten the lug nuts. Don?t tighten them one by one in order. Start with one nut, tighten it about 50%, move to the opposite one (across the circle) and tighten it just like the previous one. Go on tightening the lug nuts in such order until all of them are as tight as they can be.
10. Put the flat tire and the tools into the boot of the car. Look around if you haven?t left anything on the side of the road.
Additional Tips and Warnings
* Together with tire change equipment it is good to have a strong, hollow pipe, about 2 feet long, for leverage.
* If a lug nut sticks, squirt penetrating oil around its base and wait a moment, then try again. Repeat if necessary.
* Mind your hands while removing a flat tire as you can cut them with strands of steel sticking out of the back of the rubber.
* Cars can slip off jacks. Keep this in mind and be very careful.. Never get under a car if it?s held up with only a tire changing jack.
* Be careful when pulling on the wrench and pipe to avoid a strained back.
Easy and Quick Fix
There are cases when the tire is not completely destroyed when it goes flat. If your tire is damaged by a nail or another sharp thing and you can?t or don?t want to change it right on the roadside you can add a few miles by using a flat-fix spray. While using it follow the manufacturer?s directions. If you do everything correctly the flat-fix spray will let you to get to the nearest service station or at least to find more suitable place for tire change.
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