ONE too many horror movies feature a woman who is stuck on a lonely road because she has a flat tyre. When she tries to call for help, she realises that she has no cell reception, and she now has no choice but to walk barefooted through the lonely woods (because her heel broke, of course) into the arms of the serial killer or ghost who is waiting to attack her. Frankly, she would have lived to die another way if she simply knew how to change a car tyre.
Movies are never too far away from reality. Many women do not know how to change a flat tyre, and become helpless the moment they have to deal with one. And so Sean McDonald, owner of Xtreme Autosound and Electronics, provides step-by-step instructions to change a busted tyre without busting a sweat.
Pull over at a safe location
The safety element of it is always paramount. If you notice that you have a flat while driving in a dimly lit area, continue to drive until you are under a streetlight. Pull the car off the road as far onto the kerb as possible, so you don't present yourself as a hazard to other road users who may be travelling in the same direction.
Locate the required tools
You will need a jack, lug tool, wheel lock key if applicable, spare tyre, and a wheel chock/wedge. A large stone or block of wood can be used instead of a wedge.
Remove the hubcap from the affected tyre
The lug tool usually has a pry bar surface that can be used to remove the hubcap, just by wedging it between the edge of the hubcap and the rim, and prying it forward. That takes the hubcap off.
Loosen wheel locks/ lug nuts
Wheel locks may secure your car's wheels from theft as they can only be removed using a special 'key' that comes with the set. These are installed in place of either one or all lug nuts on the wheel. The wheel lock key will be inserted into the wheel lock, and the lug tool on the other end. The lug tool will be turned anticlockwise (to the left) to loosen it. For regular lug nuts, just place the matching end of the lug tool directly onto the lugs.
Locate the jacking point
Most vehicles have a jacking point forward and back under the running board of the car (the midsection under the doors). There is a little lip under there that has a ridge. That ridge is where the jack should be placed to lift it, because that area of the metal is strengthened for that purpose.
Position the jack
Ensure that the jack is placed on as level a surface as possible, so that it doesn't flip over when you are jacking up the car. Then wind the jack up with your hand until it rests on the base of the vehicle. Then insert one end of the jack handle into the jack, and attach your lug tool to the other end, as will be used to jack up the car.
Jack the car up and remove remaining lug nuts and tyre
Turn the lug tool to elevate the car just enough for the affected tyre to leave the ground. Remove the loosened wheel locks or lug nuts with your hands. If they are not loose enough, continue to use the lug tool.
Remove flat tyre and put on spare tyre
Grab your spare from your trunk and attach it to the car at the same location from which you removed the flat tyre. Perform steps 4-7 in reverse order, ensuring to tighten the lug nuts/wheel locks when the wheel is on the ground. Hub caps usually don't fit on spare tyres, so you don't need to try to put it back on.
Put flat tyre and tools away
You don't have to fit them back in the slots that they came from right away, as the key thing is to get away from that spot as soon as possible. When you get home you can arrange them neatly.
•'Donut' spare tyres are not meant to be driven on for long periods of time, or at speeds higher than 80 kilometres per hour.
•Change tyres according to the wear. Tyres have wear indicators between the threading at specific intervals. As soon as the tyre is worn to that point, it is time to change the tyre.
•Try to get your hands on a tyre pressure gauge. This is useful tool to have in your glove box or toolbox, as when you maintain your tyre pressure they last longer and are safer.
•A good investment is a mini-tyre inflator (pump), as many gas stations don't provide air for you to fill up an underinflated tyre if necessary. If you have a flat tyre and it's leaking slowly, you can use your pump to inflate enough to take you home instead of risking tyre damage in an unsafe spot.