Here’s the lowdown on what to do when your van cops a flat.
Changing a caravan tyre is one of the simplest ‘technical’ things you can do, but get it wrong and it’ll end in tears. There are some things about changing a wheel on a caravan that are very different to what you might be used to on a vehicle.
Before you even go on tour and discover that you’ve got a flat tyre, you need to include your spare tyre in your pre-trip checks.
One thing that is easy to forget with a spare tyre – especially one that you have been lucky enough to not need to use before – is that they only last so long.
Rubber hardens over time and, after five years, a tyre becomes more likely to blow out when used on the van, no matter how much tread it has remaining.
Having a spare wheel cover will help the tyre last a bit longer, as exposure to sunlight increases the rubber’s ageing process. But if I was going on an extended trip, I’d replace an unused spare tyre not long after it had reached its sixth birthday.
You can find out how old the tyre is by finding its four-digit construction date on the sidewall. It’ll look something like ‘4216’, which means, in this case, that the tyre was made in the 42nd week of 2016.
The spare tyre should be inflated to the recommended pressure on the van’s compliance plate.
One final thing to check before you go is that your van is equipped with a jack and wheel brace. You might’ve only recently bought the van and never thought to check, or you’ve taken it out and forgotten to replace it.
Many older vans don’t seem to have a jack and wheel brace, so now’s the time to buy them.
It’s a good idea to also buy a couple of wheel chocks and a block of wood to take along.
We’ll explain why below.
ON THE FLAT
To recap, you need to check the spare tyre has enough tyre pressure and that it is within its use period.
You will also need a wheel brace to suit the wheel nuts of your van, a jack that suits your van, a tyre pressure gauge, wheel chocks, a block of wood, a warning triangle and a high-vis vest.
When you discover you have a tyre puncture, park the van on ground that’s as level and firm as possible.
If it’s a slow air leak that you’ve discovered during