Ladies, Here’s Your Flat Tire Checklist!
There's an old saying: "God watches out for fools, babies, and disc jockeys."
Okay. Maybe we in the radio business added the last part, but I qualify for two of the three. He was watching out for me recently before I began a drive down interstate because the indicator lights in my car let me know that one of my tires was flat. The Almighty's work was far from over with those dashboard lights, though.
I pulled into a parking lot and couldn't reach my husband by phone. I convinced myself that I was an educated woman, I could read directions, and I was going to get the job done.
I opened the trunk of my car and lifted the flap to reveal the spare tire that sat there. I unscrewed the mechanism that held it in place and lifted it out. First hurdle crossed.
There sat what I could only assume was the jack. I must admit that I almost laughed. Luckily, the instructions to change the flat and use the jack were also there.
As I sat on the ground trying to figure out which step I was actually supposed to be referencing, God sent an angel. A young gentleman came over and asked if I needed assistance. My pride wanted to answer with a confident "no," but the sane part of my brain quickly flattened that, too. I told him I sure would appreciate any help he could provide.
What this young man did do for me was walk me through each step and allow me to do as much as I could myself so that, in the event I'm stuck in a similar situation, I can do it alone!
So from one lady to hopefully several others, here's your checklist and some stuff that may save you some grief if you find yourself flat.
Not all spare tires are in the same place in every car. Not all of them are secured in the car the same way. Find yours as soon as possible and figure out how to take it out of your vehicle. Make sure it is inflated properly.
The jack for your car probably looks like a torture device. If you don't know how to use it when you need it, it will feel like one. Chances are that part of that jack serves as a tool to get the lug nuts off and onto the spare tire, as well. Read the instructions today and learn to assemble the jack now. Also, there will be a spot under your car where the jack fits to raise your car up so you can get the tire off and the spare on. Find those spots, or you will damage the under carriage. Take it from me.
These things may prove to be the most difficult part of the job, at least for me. They hold the wheel on the car, and they are on there very tightly. They will not be easy to loosen. The thing I learned from that helpful young man was that you must "crack the nuts" before you jack up the car. As a matter of fact, another kind gentleman walked up to us as we were working and asked us, "Did you crack the nuts?" Apparently, it's a really big deal! If you jack the car up first and then try to twist the lug nuts off, the tire will just spin. However, don't take them all the way off until after you've jacked the car up and you're ready to remove the tire. So the order is crack, jack, take them off, remove tire. And don't lose the lug nuts! You'll need them to attach the spare.
Thinking I was home free and feeling pretty smug, I grabbed the spare to put it on. The bolts wouldn't match up with the holes in the spare. I, literally, almost cried. I turned it and tilted it, to no avail. I finally handed it to my friend. He simply jacked the car up a few more inches and slid it into place. I wasn't accounting for basic geometry. Once you've got the spare situated, you put the lug nuts back onto the bolts. Make sure they are tightly in place! If they aren't, you risk the tire flying right off your vehicle.
I now have these stylish dot gloves in my trunk after having lost at least a layer of skin off my knuckles. Not only that, I don't have the best grip in the world, and the gloves will help.
If you have a trunk like mine where the spare tire is under a flap, there may be a hook in there you've been wondering about. At least, I did. Now, I know! It's to hold up the flap so you can get the stuff underneath the flap without it hitting you in the head while you're digging around underneath it. How clever!