My move to graduate school started off like a hallmark movie. Nebraska was just in my rearview mirror, a perfect metaphor for me closing one chapter to open another (cue Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” here).
And then, BAM…
I had blown a tire a mere 3 miles out of town. Needless to say, this mishap ruined my poetic moment; however, it also left me savvy about how to handle such an emergency. Here are some tips for you as you go off to college to prevent, prepare for and ‘patch up’ a flat tire.
Proactive Prevention. Except for an unexpected puncture, many flats can be prevented through routine tire care. To actively avoid preventable flats, be sure to do the following:
- Check your air pressure with a tire gauge. To find out what your pressure should be, check in your car owner’s manual (usually located in the glove box).
- Keep an eye on your tire treads or the grooves in your tire with the penny test.
- Rotate your tires when you change your oil.
- Don’t overload your vehicle.
When ‘POP goes the…tire?” If you are driving at higher speeds when you pop a tire, keep calm and keep in mind these do’s and don’ts. Watch here for a great overview.
DON’T push the break
DON’T jerk the steering wheel before the car has slowed.
DO put on your emergency flashers/ hazard lights and keep the car going straight in your lane.
DO pull over once the car has slowed naturally to around 30 miles per hour.
Step by step Tutorial
- Safely put your car in park on level ground, engage the emergency break.
- Take off your hub-cap and use your wrench to partially loosen the lug nuts in a star-pattern.
- BEFORE you jack up your car, place a rock, brick, or piece of plywood in front of the wheel diagonally opposite the flat tire to prevent the car from slipping.
- Check your owner’s manual for the safest place to put your jack. Insert the handle and turn it clock-wise to raise the car.
- Remove the lug nuts completely and remove the tire.
- Put your spare tire on correctly by making sure the air valve is facing out.
- Replace your lug nuts in the same order that you loosened them, first partially and then completely.
- Lower the car by turning the jack handle counter clock-wise until the tire just hits the ground.
- Grab your tools, brick, rock, or plywood and get back on the road!
Here are some great videos to watch for an example of the steps above:
Check out other blogs in this series: