School of the air

It’s easy to iron out those flat spots, writes Mark Hinch­liffe

Herald Sun - Motoring - - How To -

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.

Pre­cau­tions

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.

Blowout

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.

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