Friday, September 2, 2011

MrsDrPoe: How to Change a Flat

The inspiration of this Foto Friday post* came from a lone trip a few weeks ago. I found my mind wandering to several things that could go wrong on the road, which lead to the possibility of a flat tire...without Mr. Poe or any friends in the area to aid me. As I mentally went through the steps in the process of changing a flat, I thought that this subject would definitely make a helpful post for myself, and I hope that you agree!

Step 1: Pull over.

If you get a flat, your car will try to veer to the side that the flat is on. When this happens, stay calm, firmly grasp the wheel, turn on your hazard lights, and carefully make your way to the shoulder. Don't freak out if you can't immediately pull over- a ruined wheel is a lot easier to replace than a life. If you're on a one-way stretch of road like the interstate, try to pull off on the shoulder that allows you to have your vehicle as a barrier between you and traffic as you work (ex: flat is on the left side, pull off on the left shoulder). Be sure to pull off the road as far as you can while keeping the car on relatively flat ground.

Step 2: Take precautions.

When you're safely pulled over, turn on your hazard lights if you've forgotten; turn off the car; and put on the parking break to help stabilize the vehicle during the tire changing process. Text or call a friend to let someone know where you are and when you stopped- be sure to tell them to check on you if you don't touch base again in 30 minutes.

Step 3: Get out your gear.

Your spare tire/doughnut, lug wrench, and jack will be in different locations depending on what type of vehicle you have. For our car, all the stuff is in the trunk underneath a section of carpet:

Make sure you've located the necessary equipment before the time comes that you actually need it. You'll also want to periodically check your spare/doughnut to ensure that the tire is at its proper pressure (this pressure can be found in your car manual or on the tire).

Step 4: Remove the hubcap.

Most newer vehicles have a lovely cover over the center of the actual wheel; this must be removed before you can get to the lug nuts. The decorative covers over the lugs will probably be plastic, so be careful with them (you may not need the wrench at this point). After these covers are loosened (A), remove the cap (B), exposing the lugs (C):

Next, you'll want to use the lug wrench to loosen the lug nuts at this point (it's ok to kick or stand on the wrench...see A in the figure in Step 6); if you don't loosen the lugs before you raise the car, you'll literally just be spinning your wheels when you try with the tire in the air.

Step 5: Set up the jack.

There should be a long, thin metal piece on the underside of your vehicle (like Mr. Poe is pointing to in A). This piece should fit in the groove of your jack (B). To ensure that this happens, set the jack up and start raising it; when the top of the jack nears the underside of the car, line up the groove with the metal strip (C):

Continue to raise the jack (and the car at this point) until the wheel is entirely off the ground and can spin freely.

Step 6: Remove the tire.

Hopefully you loosened your lugs (A) in Step 4 (if not, lower the car, loosen them, and then repeat Step 5). Once all the lug nuts are removed (B), place the lugs in the hubcap (C) or some other place where you don't loose them:

Carefully grasp the tire with both hands and remove it from the vehicle, pulling out and then down to the ground. As an additional safety precaution, you can lay this tire with its tread perpendicular to the ground under the car beside the jack. That way, if something crazy should happen and the jack fails, the car will land on the tire and not your foot.

Step 7: Put on the spare.

There are two sides to a doughnut (if that's what you have). One side (A) has an extruded flat piece in the center of the wheel; the other side has a concave flat piece (B). The extruded flat piece is the back of the wheel; this side should face the car when you're putting the doughnut on:

If you have little to no upper body strength (like me), you can set the spare on your foot/feet and use it/them to help you lift the new wheel (A). You'll want to first line up the top hole in the spare wheel with the top screw; prop the wheel on this screw and then rotate it until the other screws and holes line up (B). Place the lugs back on with your fingers in a star pattern (bottom left, top, bottom right, top left, top right) (C); then use the lug wrench to tighten each lug nut down as much as possible (until the tire spins...again using the star pattern). You'll need to go over the first ones that you tighten a second time (D):

Step 8: Finish up.

Remove the old tire from under the car and slowly lower the car to the ground. Using the wrench, tighten the lug nuts one final time, ensuring they're as tight as you possibly can get them:

Pack your equipment back into your car and wipe up if you have some napkins (unless you have gloves, you're going to get a little dirty). Call or text your friend to give him/her an update; turn on the car; take off the parking break; and carefully merge back into traffic. Once you're up to speed, turn off your hazard lights.

So that's it! I hope this has been as useful for you as it has been for me, and until next time...happy motoring!

*A special thanks to Mr. Poe for some additional safety tips, reviewing this post, and being my photographer and an all-around great husband.


Post a Comment