There’s nothing worse in the world of motoring than being on your jolly way only to be stopped in your tracks by an unexpected flat tyre. There is no escaping it – you’re going to have to get the spare out and change it if you want to be on your way.
Or you could phone your breakdown service, but that can take ages. What if you have somewhere to be? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Here is what you need to do.
Spare Tyre Health and Preparation
The spare tyre is one of those things we only ever remember when we need it. As such, we tend to ignore it most of the time. Don’t do that. Instead, once a year at least, do the following.
Check the condition
Is the tyre still inflated, and if so, is it at the right pressure? Furthermore, what about the condition of the wheel? Some are located under the car, so has your spare succumbed to corrosion? Finally, check the condition of the tyre – are the sidewalls still good or are they cracking? Is the tyre still of a serviceable age? If not, it’s time to change it.
Location, location, location…
For most of us, the spare tyre is in the boot. However, for you 4x4 drivers, it’s on the back. For others, it might be suspended under the boot floor in a steel cage. If this is you, be sure to check the bolts securing it. Keep them lubricated so they don’t freeze up. The last thing you want is a trapped spare.
Prepare your tools
Make sure your jack, your locking wheel nut key, the little tool for prying off the centre cap and the wheel brace are all present and correct. Do you really want to be stranded on the side of the A14, in the rain, without a clue as to the whereabouts of your locking wheel nut key?
Changing the wheel
01 Chock and lock
Is the puncture on the back? If so, turn the front wheels towards the side of the road, and then put chocks under them. This will reduce the likelihood of the car falling or rolling into t a live road. If the puncture is at the front, chock the rear wheels securely.
02 Flat on flat
If you can limp the car to a flat surface, do so. You should never, ever jack a car up on a gradient, as this will dramatically increase the risk of the car falling on the jack, and that’s the last thing you want. Not only can it cause injury, but it will also completely strand the car.
03 Warning others
Most cars have a reflective warning triangle in the boot. Before you do anything with the car, place this triangle 45 meters (147 feet) behind the car so as to warn other motorists of your position.
04 Keep it under you
When you jack the car up, keep the spare under the car. When you take the flat wheel off, swap it for the spare under the car. Factory jacks are for emergency use only and are far from stable. If you always have a wheel under the car, you’re giving the car something to fall on other than your feet or hands.
05 Observe the warnings
Finally, if you’re fitting a slim, space-saver wheel, take note of the warnings on the wheel. Many of them are speed limited, so be sure to follow what the warning states. If you work a space-saver too hard, it can break up and fail. Leaving you stranded once more.