Dubai: One of the most frustrating experiences for anyone who owns a car is being stuck on the side of the road at some point while you are driving. Though mechanical breakdowns cannot always be prevented, the most typical breakdown that will leave you stranded can be easily fixed.
Most of us have a general idea on how to change flat tyres, but a general idea is barely enough when you end up with a flat tyre on a rainy day, for example. First thing’s first, turn on your emergency flashers and pull over on the side of the road. You definitely don’t want to feel uncomfortable by the amount of traffic surrounding you. Most importantly, turn the engine off, put the gear selector in park, engage the emergency or parking brake, and place your warning triangle outside.
According to Sreekaenth from AAA Service Centre in Al Barsha, “Any driver will notice the changes and realise that he/she needs to change the tyre immediately.” If there is a noticeable difference in tyre pressure, or if the tyre noise starts getting a bit too loud, or if you suspect an uneven balance in the vehicle’s height, you know what to do.
If you’ve never changed a tyre before in your life, or watched one get changed, this is the part you might get wrong because plenty of people do: You have to loosen the lug nuts before jacking the car off the ground. If you put the jack under the car and lift the car first, you’ll have a hard time trying to loosen them with the wheel floating in the air and able to spin.
Once loosened, place the jack under the car and raise the car just enough so that the tyre you are changing is slightly off the ground, then remove the lug nuts completely and set them aside. Slowly pull the flat tyre off and set it still on the ground. Then take the spare tyre and place it carefully on the car. In the next step, replace the lug nuts and tighten them by hand and lower the jack completely. Once the tyre is on the ground, tighten the lug nuts, using the lug wrench to tighten them as much as possible. Place the remaining components back in your truck, release the emergency brake, and start your car.
Stop to get a flat tyre fixed or replaced as soon as possible. There’s more than one reason for that; firstly, many spare tyres are basically designed to get your car from the scene of the flat tyre to a tyre repair shop. It’s not a regular tyre, so don’t treat it like one. Secondly, driving on one tyre less could mean you run into more unwelcome surprises along the way.
If, at any moment, you feel incapable of changing the tyre, or are bothered by someone who has offered you help, do not hesitate to call 999 for assistance immediately. Changing a flat tyre for the first time may seem stressful, but it surely beats waiting for a tow truck for two or three hours.
— Marina Makary is an intern at Gulf News
Safe and easy steps to follow:
1. Pull over at a safe spot and make sure it’s a flat surface — pulling over on a hill can cause disasters. Deploy the emergency brake, hazard lights, and your warning triangle. It is also recommended to put a block on the front tyre.
2. Remove the hubcap to loosen the lug nuts and use it to hold the nuts. Then grab your lug wrench and place it on the flat tyre’s lug nuts. Loosen the nuts by turning them counterclockwise, but don’t take any of them off yet!
3. Check your owner’s manual for the correct placement of the jack. Turn the hand crank at the end of the jack to raise the jack until it comes into contact with your car’s frame.
4. Start cranking the jack until the wheel is clear off the ground to remove the tyre. Don’t stick your hands or legs under the car — it could fall and injure you.
5. Remove the lug nuts from the wheel by turning them anti-clockwise and keeping them in your hubcap so they don’t roll away. This should be easily done because you’ve already loosened them. Then remove the flat tyre and lay it flat; you don’t want it to roll away either.
6. Take your spare tyre and line up the lugs, or bolts, with the holes in the wheel and slide the wheel on. Once the wheel is on, take your lug nuts and tighten them by hand until you meet firm resistance.
7. Keep lowering the jack until your wheel stands firmly on the ground.
8. Finish tightening your lug nuts well. These must be on super tight so the wheel doesn’t come flying off while driving to the tyre shop to get the flat tyre fixed.
9. Put the flat tyre back in the car — and don’t forget your jack.
10. Drive as short a distance as possible because spare tyres aren’t supposed to be driven on for long. Drive slowly and get your flat tyre replaced as soon as possible.