Many drivers live in dread of having to change a tire should they pick up a puncture whilst on the road. For them, such an event constitutes a motoring nightmare. But this doesn’t have to be the case.
If you know what you’re doing (and if you keep reading, you soon will) fitting a spare needn’t be an ordeal.
Here are the golden rules;
1) Check Your Tires Before Setting Out
You’ll always hear doctors say ‘prevention is better than cure.’ This same thinking should apply to maintaining your vehicle. Check your tires before each journey and make sure they are in a road worthy state. This will significantly reduce the chances of a problem developing when you are out on the road.
Check to see that your tire pressure is at an appropriate level and that the tread isn’t too worn down. If there’s less than 1.6mm of tread depth on the tire, it’s not going to be safe to drive on. Make sure that you check to see if your spare is also inflated to the correct pressure.
2) Be Prepared
It’s no good knowing what to do if you don’t have the tools for the job. You’ll need a wheel wrench, and a jack on board (as well as a spare tire!) and it can also be a good idea to have a high visibility jacket and a torch, in case you end up having to work at the side of the road in the dark.
3) Get to a Safe Place
If the worst does happen and you need to change your tire, make sure you get to a safe place first. You’ll want to be somewhere where you are visible to other traffic with a level surface that isn’t slippery, otherwise the jack won’t take the weight of the car properly.
4) Fit The Spare
Only now can you fit the spare. This is actually not so hard to do. First loosen the wheel nuts with your wrench, but don’t take them off. Next jack the car up, so the tire you want to change is off the ground (you can find out where the jack point is in the owner’s manual.)
Now, remove the wheel nuts, placing them in your pocket so they don’t get lost. Remove the punctured wheel and mount your spare in its place. Lightly place the nuts back, just using your fingers.
Lower the car off the jack and tighten the nuts fully using your wrench. Simple!
5) Get to a Garage
Though you’ve done an admirable job, it’s important you now get to a garage ASAP. Most spare tires these days are designed only for emergency use and will become unsafe to drive on after about 50 miles or so.
Even if your spare is a brand new tire, identical to your others, you still need to go to a garage as ideally, you should never replace just a single tire, but do it in pairs, placing the new additions together on the same axel, preferably the back one.
Finally, though your efforts with the wrench have got your spare on, you really still need to get it mechanically tightened in a garage, or it will soon come loose, which will cause a real problem if you happen to be driving at the time!
Daniel Livingston writes on motoring issues for UK Net Guide.