Monday, May 26, 2008

Woah! You Are Having A Flat!

Have you ever driven the highway at night and heard a "hissing" noise and then felt the steering wheel *shake*?

Then the whole car started to tremble?

Guess what?

You probable just had a blow-out, or at least you were having a flat tire--that's what happens when all the air goes out of a tire.

Do you know how to change a tire?

It's different on most cars.

And then there's that little *toy* tire somewhere in the back that you have to put on to get to where you are going (if it's not too far).

It all depends on the type of vehicle you are driving.

If it's a pickup truck, you're in luck. At least your spare will be either in the back of the truck, or, underneath the bed near the rear bumper.

That could be good, or it could not be good. It all depends on where you are and which tire went flat, the front, or the rear.

Anyway, let's assume you can get to it on a pickup.

Usually, the manufacturer has it fastened up to the bottom of the bed with a cable that has a crank or twist mechanism.

If you are in a passenger car, or van, or station wagon you will find the spare tire in the back, or in the trunk (where you store your luggage when you go visit your in-laws).

On my wife's Ford Taurus station wagon the spare is located in the back, on the left, behind a panel...the *toy* tire.

But, in the very back there is a flap you can pull up and get to the *real* tire if you have one.

Usually the jack is stored with the spare but sometimes, like hers, the jack is under the flap in the floor bed and the spare is stored in the side panel.

This brings up another situation.

Does your vehicle have *locking* wheel lug nuts?

Hers has them, and if you don't have the key (a special lug nut looking thing with a funny-looking end on it, you can't get that locking nut off.

Okay, we have the spare, the lug wrench, the jack, the locking lug nut tool.

All we have to do now is break the lug nuts loose, while the vehicle is still flat on the ground (no pun intended).

Take the lug wrench and place it onto one of the lug nuts and turn it to the *left* (I don't think there are anymore left-handed nuts around, unless you own a Chrysler product from the '60's). :-)

After you break all the nuts loose (you did use the little tool to loosen the lock nut, didn't you?) you can put the jack under the car to jack it up so the tire will roll free.

Now you can remove all the nuts and then the tire so you can put the spare on.

Where are you going to put the jack?

That depends on the vehicle.

Newer vehicles have a *rib* in the body, just under the body. That is the best place to put the jack.

Now, if you have a pickup, or an older vehicle that doesn't have that rib, you need to put the jack under the rear axle (if it's a rear flat), or under the lower control arm (where the shock is bolted to) if you have a flat on the front.

Jack the vehicle up just enough to replace the tire. The higher you go the more risk you take of the vehicle sliding off the jack.

I could have left that part out, uh?

But seriously, you do want to be very careful...several accidents have happened from a vehicle jacked up too high.

Of course the newer type jacks are more do have the scissor type jack, yes?

Get all the nuts off, remove the flat tire, put the spare onto the lugs, start all the nuts, and then run them up snug (with the wrench).

Now you can let the jack down, and put it back in the vehicle.

Go back to your tire.

Start with one of the nuts and put some, not a lot, pressure on it (turning it to the right).

Next, go across from it and tighten the next one (you want to tighten them in a criss-cross fashion, top, bottom, left, right, etc.).

After you have all of them tightened slightly, go back over them in the same (or close) manner and tighten them pretty good.

You don't have to *stand* on the jack, most vehicles only torque around 80-100 pounds per square inch. That is not a lot.

But, you don't want to over-tighten them as most places do with the 1/2 inch impact wrench.

Put everything back in the car and you can go on your way feeling self-sufficient.

You did do a good job though! :-)

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