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One of peoples' worst nightmares is a flat tire in the middle of rush hour traffic. In many cases there is no one around who knows how to change a tire, which creates the expense of calling a professional to do the job. Even when people are aware of the tire changing process they will often find themselves with a spare that has gone flat or needs air before you can drive on it. Or when everything appears to be perfect for changing a tire you find that parts of the jack are missing or the incline you have parked on is too steep or will not support the jack. These tips will help you to prevent all these headaches when your tire goes flat.
The first thing you should remember is to always check the pressure in your spare tire every time you check the tires. As a preventative, tires should be checked at least once a month. When you check the pressure be sure to check for any irregular wear. Remember that the pressure in your tires will drop when there is a big change in the outside temperature. During the winter months when your tires are getting more wear and tear on them to check them at least twice a month. When the pressure is low add air as quickly as possible. A tire gauge is a handy and inexpensive item to add to your toolbox. Since air tower gauges are generally inaccurate, it is best to use a tire gauge for checking air pressure.
Next check the tire changing tools in the trunk of your car. Many times these will be stored under the spare tire. If your trunk has carpet it may be necessary to lift it to find your jack storage area. You should always carry a complete jack assembly, a large 1\2 inch thick board and a 3 foot length of strong pipe that will fit over the end of the lug wrench.
If you are driving when your tire goes flat, take your foot off the gas pedal and allow the car to slow. Put on your flashers so that other drivers will know you have a problem and scan the side of the road for a safe place to pull off. You will need to be able to pull far enough off the road to have workspace on the driver’s side of your vehicle in case that is the side your flat tire is on. If at all possible find an area that is level. Since driving with a flat tire can ruin the rim on your tire, you will want to find a safe place as quickly as possible. Leave your flashers on and have all your passengers exit the vehicle. If your vehicle has an automatic transmission put it in park. When your vehicle is manual you will need to put it in reverse. Set your emergency break and turn off the ignition. Be sure to check for traffic before you exit your vehicle.
When you first exit the car look for a large rock and chock the wheel diagonal to the flat. Remove the jack, wooden board, pipe, wrench and spare tire from your trunk. Using the flat end of the wrench pry off the wheel cover and put it aside. Place the pipe over the flat end of the wrench for leverage and loosen all the nuts one turn. Unless you have been fortunate enough to park on concrete you will need to set the jack up on the piece of board. All vehicles have what is known as a jacking point. This is a area under the fender or side of your vehicle that the notch on your jack will fit into. It is important to find this notch since this area is designated as the best place to hold the weight of you vehicle while you change a tire. If you are unsure where yours is or cannot find it after looking your owners manual should tell you where it is located. Place the base of your jack on the board then place the jacking mechanism inside the base of the jack. Then place the jack handle in the groove or if you do not have a jack handle, remove the pipe from the flat end of the lug wrench and place the flat side in the groove. Align the cup of the jack with the notch in your vehicle. As you begin jacking the car up check to be sure that the jack is sitting flat under the vehicle and if it is, continue jacking until the wheel is 3 inches off the ground.
Next you will need to finish removing the wheel nuts. As you remove them place them inside the wheel cover so you can easily find them. Slide the wheel off and replace it with your spare. It is necessary for the wheel to sit flat on its mount before you thread on the nuts. Remember when doing this that the nuts go on the wheel, flat side out. When the nuts are finger tight lower the car and remove the jack. Using a crisscross pattern tighten the nuts in stages with the wrench. Put your wheel cover back on by tapping it into place with the heel of your hand. Place your flat tire and tools back in the trunk and remove the rock from under your wheel.
In most cases people prefer to use a tire fixative when they have a flat tire. It is good to know that although these fixatives will many times allow you to get to a service station to have the tire changed, they can also make it very difficult or impossible to fix the tire. The best preventative measures you can take to protect yourself from having flats is to check your tires often. Check for bubbles or waviness in the sidewalls that could indicate internal damage to the tire. The depth of the tread can be check by sticking a penny into the grooves headfirst. If the top of Lincoln’s head is above the tread rubber the tires should be changed out before you drive on them. Front tires tend to wear more around the edges and rear tires will wear evenly if you vehicle is properly aligned. Any time your front tires are wearing in a spotty fashion you should have your tires balanced and the suspension check for looseness. If you tend to brake hard or your shock absorbers are worn you will notice that your tires have large flat spots encircling the tread. Breaks that grab will also create this pattern on your tires.