School of the air
It’s easy to iron out those flat spots, writes Mark Hinchliffe
BETTER roads and tougher tyres have reduced the rate of flat tyres over the years, but thousands of motorists still get stranded every week and many don’t have a clue how to change a wheel.
You can avoid being stranded if you follow some simple advice.
PUNCTURES are often caused by the sidewall hitting a sharp object because the tyre pressure is too low.
Regularly check your tyre pressures are at the level stipulated on the plate on the inside of the driver’s side door or in the owner’s manual.
Electronic air hoses are more accurate. Mechanical gauges can be as much as 18 per cent out.
Buy your own tyre pressure gauge. The more you pay, the better the quality. Motorists should also check tyres for wear and foreign objects such as screws and nails.
If you discover one, drive to a tyre shop. They can be quickly and safely repaired before a dangerous blowout.
Also, check your spare tyre. There is no point in changing to a spare tyre that is bald or flat.
IF YOU are driving and a tyre has a sudden loss of pressure caused by a puncture, you will notice the steering pull one way. Slow down and pull off the road. If possible, park on a flat surface with as much room between the flat tyre and the road as possible.
Changing the wheel
MANY modern cars, particularly lux- ury and small cars from Europe, don’t have spare tyres.
Manufacturers consider the owners of these cars would ring for help, rather than change the wheel themselves.
Some cars have run-flat tyres which will continue to operate up to about 80km/h for a limited distance. Others have a canister in the boot which you fit on to the tyre’s valve. It releases a ‘‘goo’’ that seals the inside of the tyre and re-inflates it.
This is a temporary measure and you should drive slowly and carefully to the nearest tyre service centre.
Some spare wheels are called space-savers, which are narrower than the original tyre. Again, drive straight to a tyre service centre at the recommended speed and load ratings.
If your car has a temporary or full- size spare wheel, it will be under the floor of the boot, under the rear of the car or on the tailgate.
Make sure the handbrake is on and the car is in gear.
Unscrew the spare wheel from its housing and lift it out. The wheel brace and jack will be in the boot.
Find out where the jack goes because you can damage underbody parts, and put your safety at risk, if the wrong jacking location is used. Check the handbook.
Use the brace to loosen the nuts on the wheel with the flat tyre. These will be tight and you might have to use your boot to give it a kick.
Now jack the car up until most of the pressure is off the tyre, but it is still in firm contact with the ground before loosening the nuts further.
Raise the car a little further so the wheel spins freely. Take the nuts off with your fingers and remove the wheel. Roll it around to the back of the car and roll in the spare.
Lift the wheel on to the bolts and replace the wheel nuts with your hands.
Drop the jack so the wheel is touching the ground and not spinning and then use the brace to wind the nuts in.
Finally drop the jack all the way down and remove it. Now, screw the nuts on with the brace to the same level of tightness they were before.
Replace the spare tyre, jack and brace in the boot securely so they don’t roll around.
Air traffic control: know how to change a wheel in an emergency.