Be prepared for unexpected travel emergencies this summer by learning how to change a tire, suggests the Tire Industry Safety Council.
"Changing a tire isn't as difficult as some people think, and making sure everyone who drives the family car knows how to properly change a tire is good policy," said Council Chairman Donald B. Shea. Your car should have jacking instructions in the owner's manual or on a decal located in the trunk.
"The first thing you should do is check the air pressure in the temporary or full-size spare tire. You should check the spare's inflation pressure at least once a month, when you check your other tires," Shea adds. On those rare occasions when you may have a tire emergency, the Tire Industry Safety Council offers these tips for putting on the spare:
Shea also adds that the following precautions should be taken while driving on a temporary spare tire:
- Park the car. If you get a flat tire while driving, pull off to the right as far as possible (on the paved shoulder of the road or on an unpaved, flat, hard surface). In many municipalities today, breakdown lanes and paved shoulders often double as travel lanes during busy rush hours, so make sure the shoulder you're parked on is clear of traffic.
- Put the car in park (or, if you have a standard transmission, put it in gear or follow the instructions in your owner's manual) and put on the emergency brake. You should place emergency triangles at intervals behind your vehicle to warn other vehicles that your car is stopped. You may also wish to raise your hood to signal other motorists that your car is indeed stopped for an emergency. If it's a night emergency, you should use flares to warn other motorists.
- Find your tools. Remove the jack, lug wrench, and related items from your trunk. Also take out the spare at this time.
- Anchor the wheel. If possible, put blocks or large rocks in front of and behind the tire diagonally across from the wheel you are changing.
- Remove the wheel cover, if necessary. Do this with the end of the jack handle or screwdriver. Using the wrench that came with the jack, loosen the lug nuts one full turn, but do not remove them. Most turn counterclockwise.
- Position the jack. Your vehicle owner's manual will specify where the jack should be placed. Make sure the jack is resting on a solid surface and the base is flat on the ground.
- Lift the car with the jack. Slowly lift the car until the wheel you need to change is about 2 - 3 inches off the ground. Never lie under the car while it is on a jack.
- Remove lug nuts. Finish unscrewing the lug nuts, remove and place them inside a wheel cover or other secure receptacle so you won't lose them. Gently remove the flat tire and roll it away. (Don't forget to take the old tire with you for repair or responsible disposal.)
- Position the regular spare or temporary-spare tire. Place the regular or temporary spare on the car and tighten the lug nuts by hand so the wheel is securely attached to the bolts. Be careful not to jar or shake the car.
- Lower the car. Lower the car until the tread contacts the ground, anchoring the tire. Tighten the lug nuts with the wrench until they are evenly tightened. Work diagonally -- tighten one on top, then on bottom, then one on the left and so on. Finally, lower the car completely and give the lug nuts a final tightening.
"It's important to check the inflation pressure of the newly-installed temporary spare before driving away," Shea says. He adds, "Also check the owner's manual for any speed restrictions that may apply while operating the vehicle with the spare installed. Cole also advises motorists to check the spare's sidewall for additional information, such as maximum speed and inflation pressure.
- Do not exceed the maximum vehicle load rating noted on the tire placard.
- Do not tow trailers when using a temporary spare.
- Do not use tire chains on the spare tire.
- Do not attempt to repair or remove the temporary spare from its wheel.
- Do not drive through an automatic car wash with a temporary spare tire. (The temporary spare is smaller than conventional tires and thus reduces the vehicle's ground clearance. The vehicle may get stuck, possibly resulting in property damage.)
Finally, Shea advises motorists to proceed as soon as possible to a tire dealer or other service facility to get the damaged tire replaced or properly repaired by a trained tire service person.
The Council offers a free brochure on tire care for cars and light trucks. To order the guide, send a self-addressed, stamped business-size envelope to: Tire Industry Safety Council, P.O. Box 3147, Medina, OH 44258. The Council also offers a tire care kit which includes an air pressure gauge, a tread depth gauge, four valve caps and a tire care brochure. To order a kit, send a check or money order for $4.00 to the above address.
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