by Laurel Smith
Be familiar with your spare
before you hit the road
Imagine being at the side
of the road on a busy Interstate highway with a flat tire.... ...Alone....
In the dark.
Do you know how to change
the tire, or will you be stuck for hours waiting for help? I surveyed
a few of my friends. Only one of them knew what to do. The others had no
I found myself in a flat
tire situation recently. I was alone and about 50 miles from home
out in the countryside on a dark interstate highway on a short 200 mile
road trip. It was 7 pm in January so it was pitch dark and very cold.
My tire went flat. There was not a freeway exit in sight, so I pulled off
the road as far as I possibly could. Changing a tire by the side
of the road is dangerous and somewhat scary. Some of my anxiety was
relieved though, because I knew what to do.
I had followed my father's
advice, and when I first got my minivan, I spent an hour getting familiar
with how to remove the spare tire and operate the jack.
His advice: Be familiar
with your vehicle's tire-changing procedure before you go anywhere!
It's different for every make of vehicle. You will stay safer, and you
will minimize further damage to your car if you already know how to remove
your spare and operate the jack rather than try to figure it out in a break-down
situation when you are already stressed. This is some of the best advice
I have ever recieved (thanks Dad), and I want to emphasize it to all drivers
On my current
minivan, the spare tire is underneath the car centered near the front
just behind the front wheels. My owner's manual told me how to access
it. I have to lower the spare tire on a cable by using a bar inside
the car between the driver's seat and passenger's seat. Once the tire is
lowered, I can remove it from it's protective covering. My owner's manual
also taught me how to remove the jack from the storage compartment in the
back and how to use the irons to operate it. Even more importantly, it
told me where to place the jack under the car where it was designed to
recieve it (for safety, and in order not to damage the vehicle).
I would have had great
having to figure this out in the dark and the freezing cold, by the side
of the road with traffic whizzing by me.
Here are some basic instructions
for how to change a tire to get you started:
to Change a Tire on Wikihow
to Change a Flat Tire on eHow Video
These are great for basic
know-how, but neither of these shows you how to remove your spare tire
from it's storage. Make sure you know how your spare is stored so you can
remove it. Only your owner's manual can tell you that. In fact, practice
removing it. And while you have it out, check that spare tire once
in a while. Many people drive around with flat spares and they don't even
great advice: Make sure you have a working flashlight in your car
at all times! I recommend one that you can keep in your car and wind up
such as a crank flashlight, rather
than have to worry about batteries going dead . My recent flat experience
went fairly smoothly, but it would have been much easier if I'd had a working
flashlight with me. Instead, I had to use the light from my cell phone
to see the lug nuts and exactly where to place the jack. I can't imagine
how my scenario would have gone if I were not already familiar with changing
the tire on my car.
At any rate, instead of waiting
for hours for roadside help (that I may not have even been able to get
if I had been out of cell phone range), I was able to change the tire myself
and be on my way in only a few minutes.
One more bit of advice I
learned from my dad -- keep jumper cables in your car and know how
to use them too! Thanks Dad!
--Laurel (Road Trip Mom)
~ ..· ´¨¨))
..·´ Road Trip Mom -:¦:-
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