Learning to drive a car and then qualifying for a driving license are no easy tasks; you have to dedicate your time and attention. It would be a good thing if, after all these, all you would have to do for the rest of your driving career is drive, drive, and drive. But do you know what to do when you have a flat tire?
Unfortunately, that is not the case because you may have to deal with icky stuff once in a while, such as your car catching fire, a dead car battery, losing control of your car, your car failing to start for an unknown reason, or, well, a flat tire.
Being a good driver is not enough: you have to learn to deal with these occasional problems. Lacking the skills for dealing with them can be as dangerous as reckless driving.
So What Do You Do BEFORE You Have A Flat Tire While On The Road?
To adequately explain what you need to do when you have a flat tire, we need to start with what you need to do BEFORE you even have a flat tire. So these are the things you should do in anticipation of a flat tire:
1. Always Have a Spare Tire and the Necessary Tools
It would help if you always had a spare tire in your car because you never know when you will need to change a tire; you can run on a nail or sharp metal anywhere anytime (day or night), resulting in a flat tire. Moreover, it would be best if you had the following tools in your toolkit for changing a flat car tire:
- Wheel wedges.
- Lug wrench.
2. Check Your Tire Pressure Regularly
It is easy to forget about checking the tire pressure, so always remember to check them to ensure they are at par with the recommended pressure for your car. Some slow punctures may not be easy to detect until when it is late. A hissing sound coming from your tire is a warning sign that there is a leak.
3. Inspect Your Tires For Cuts…
Before any journey, take the time to ensure the tires have no serious cuts, cracks, bubbles, or damages that likely result in flat tires along the way when you are in the middle of nowhere.
4. Replace Old Tires
Everything comes with an ‘expiration date’ tag. Most tires are designed to take you up to 60,000 miles, after which you should consider replacing them to avoid inconveniences while you are on the road rushing to or from work, or ferrying a customer in your car taxi.
Front tires are always the first to wear down because they usually bear more weight and handle much of the steering and braking stress.
6. Practice How to Change Flat Tires
You may comfort yourself that should you have a flat tire
e one day, you would search the internet on how to save the situation, using your Smartphone. But remember that you may have to deal with a flat tire at a remote place with no internet access. Again, you will not always be having your Smartphone.
Changing a flat tire is something you should practice and master at home; you do not need to wait to learn it when you experience the problem. Did you know that there are 220 million flat tire incidents every year, according to a study? That is seven flat tire incidents per second. So chances are high you may have a flat tire this year or next year.
As a full-time driver, you are likely to change at least 5 flat tires in your lifetime.
How Would You Know You Have A Flat Tire?
When your car suddenly or gradually slows down no matter how fast you drive, it has to be a flat tire in most cases. If it is a tire burst, you may hear a deafening sound (like a bomb, some people say) followed by a grinding or groaning sound.
So, What Do You Do When You Have A Car Tire?
1. Calm Down
It is easy to panic and even lose focus when you hear a tire burst. You can even imagine it is a gunshot or that the tire has been shot! Whatever the flat tire’s cause, we can only urge you to calm down before anything else. Remember, you can end up causing more problems for yourself and other road users if you panic and press the emergency brake without thinking it through.
2. Reduce Speed
When you realize you have a car puncture, you should gradually reduce speed as you scan the surroundings for a level ground by the roadside to stop the car. Do not stop to change a tire at a curve or roundabout because other road users may not be able to see you fast enough.
Driving slowly until you find the right spot to stop may damage your rim, but that is nothing compared to what may occur to you when you stop to change a tire at a dangerous place like a sharp bend.
3. Turn on the Hazard Lights
Turning on your hazard lights should come immediately before or after reducing speed, depending on the traffic and risks at hand. Anyway, to alert other road users that you are having an emergency, turn on the hazard lights as a warning.
4. Apply Wheel Wedges
After stopping and applying the parking brake, remove the wheel wedges and put them behind the rear tires if you are to change a front tire or in front of the front wheels if it is a rear tire that is flat. By this time, you should be wearing your gloves and making good use of your flashlight if it is dark.
5. Loosen the Lug Nuts
Use your lug wrench to loosen the lug nuts by turning them anti-clockwise until they are loose enough to be removed by hand. But do not remove them entirely until it is time to remove the tire from the vehicle.
6. Raise the Vehicle with the Jack
Place the jack under the vehicle close to the flat tire. Many vehicles have spots for the jack. Follow the car’s user manual so as not to damage the car while using the jack. You should have known how to use the jack. With everything in place, raise the car until the flat tire is 6 inches o so above the ground.
Do not go under the car during or after it is raised by the jack.
7. Remove the Lug Nuts
Now is the time to altogether remove the loosened lug nuts. You can use your bare hands to unscrew them.
8. Gently Pull Out the Flat Tire
After firmly taking hold of the flat tire, pull it out as gently as you can towards you and have it lie on its side.
9. Insert the Spare Tire
Put the spare tire on the hub and align its rim with the lug bolts. After pushing until the lug bolts are showing through the rim, place the lug nuts back on the lug bolts and use your hand to tighten them as much as possible.
10. Lower the Car
Using the jack, lower the car until the spare tire slightly rests on the ground; that is, the car’s full weight should not be on the spare tire for the moment.
11. Tighten the Lug Nuts with the Lug Wrench
Now is the time to fully tighten the lug nuts with the lug wrench. Turn the wrench clockwise while pushing down the lug wrench with the full force of your body weight.
12. Lower the Car Completely
You should now lower the car to its original position on the ground and remove the jack.
13. Check the Spare Tire Pressure
Before you drive away, ensure the spare tire has adequate pressure.
Wrapping It Up
Your spare tire is designed only for temporary use, so make sure you repair the flat tire or buy another tire, then return the spare tire to the trunk for emergencies.
Having a flat tire can be a significant risk to you and other road users; that is why we started by telling you how to avoid having a flat tire in the first place.
Do you know of anyone who would like to learn how to drive or take a refresher course in New York? You can refer them to us (Pierre Paul Driving School). We are based in Brooklyn. We now offer even online classes.