Spare Tire and Changing Equipment
Spare Tire and Changing Equipment
No one wants to be stranded at the side of the road with a flat tire, especially at night or in cold or stormy weather. Being able to change a tire can help remedy the problem and get people out of potentially dangerous situations. While some people might prefer to rely on roadside assistance services, having the spare tire and correct changing equipment is useful for anyone who drives a vehicle.
Tires can go flat for many reasons. Sometimes a nail, jagged piece of metal, or a chunk of glass can puncture or tear the tire, letting the air out quickly. At other times, air escapes through small gaps between the tire and the rim as the weight of the vehicle settles onto it. It may take weeks or months for the tire to deflate, but eventually it gets to the point of needing to be refilled.
A 2015 Consumer Reports online article explains that cold weather can also be a cause of flat tires, even without an obvious cause such as a puncture. As air cools, it contracts and becomes denser, thus decreasing air pressure in the tire. When the wheels warm up with driving, the air inside expands and begins to fill the space more fully once again. Still, if a tire pressure warning light comes on at any point, it is still a good idea to check the tires and add air if necessary.
The Spare Tire
Sometimes, changing to the spare tire is necessary. Many vehicles come with a spare tire already included. Some of these spare tires are in the trunk, either in the open or under the floor. On other vehicles, the spare tire is attached to the back of the vehicle. In other cases, vehicles come with no spare tire, leaving it to the owners to buy spares.
Checking the spare tire regularly to make sure that it is fully inflated is important for ensuring that it is usable in an emergency. In addition, drivers should remember that spare tires are intended to be temporary solutions. Often, these tires are smaller than the regular ones and can cause an imbalance in driving. If it is necessary to use the spare tire, the driver should have the regular tire repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
For some drivers, the best and most practical solution is to call for roadside assistance. Most, if not all, automobile associations have services for flat tires, providing that the spare tire is usable. For example, mechanics working for the Canadian Automobile Association of South-Central Ontario will change a tire only if the spare is in good working order. Otherwise, the vehicle may have to be towed to the nearest service station for repairs.
Even when drivers have the knowledge and ability to change a tire themselves, they should be sure to have the correct equipment to deal with the problem. Besides the spare tire, several tools can help ease the process and make it as quick and safe as possible.
Preparing to Change a Tire
Finding a flat piece of ground for changing the tire is important for making sure that the vehicle does not roll away. Even then, it is a good idea to have a piece of wood or other firm object to wedge behind one of the wheels to make sure that the vehicle does not roll away. As the Carfax website notes, a spot behind one of the rear tires is the best place to choose. This block need not be anything fancy or expensive, but it should be able to wedge in under the tire and be large and solid enough to prevent the wheel from turning.
Unless the flat tire occurs in bright sunshine or on a well-lit city street, drivers are likely to need flares or some other method of warning other drivers to keep the area clear. Turning on the hazard lights is a good idea, and a passenger can potentially warn other drivers away. In some cases, flares or possibly a lamp or flashlight that the driver can set on the road can help reduce the chances of being hit. Keeping a set of lights in the trunk is a good way of preparing for the possibility of a flat tire.
Once the vehicle and warning signals are in place, the driver can begin to change the tire. At this point, a car jack is necessary, and it is best to use a good quality, official jack that can carry the weight of the vehicle without slipping or breaking. Drivers should be careful to place the jack at a designated spot, especially reinforced for this purpose, as using the wrong spot can damage the vehicle’s undercarriage. The owner’s manual should have information on its location, or a look under the vehicle might be enough to find the right place.
Once the vehicle is raised about two or three centimetres off the ground, the driver can begin to remove the flat tire. Depending on the vehicle, the driver might need a tire iron or lug wrench, or both. If the wheel has a hubcap, a tire iron could help with removing it. Either a tire iron or a wrench is useful for loosening the lug nuts that secure the tire. Once the spare time is in place, either of these tools is good for tightening the lug nuts to ensure that the tire does not fall off and cause a serious accident.
In addition to these basic tools, drivers may wish to consider a few additions. For example, the Driving.ca website recommends a dolly for moving tires back and forth, thus reducing back and muscle strain. An air compressor or tire inflator can help drivers who need to add air to either the main tire or the spare, and a plug kit is useful for sealing any holes or rips in the tire.
Flat tires can make people late for work or cause all kinds of problems on trips. However, with a good spare tire and the right tools, drivers can take care of this problem with a minimum of trouble.