Yesterday I went to pick up my daughter and her dad at the Wickford Station. They were returning from a week in L.A. and took the commuter rail from Boston to Wickford. BTW, this is a wicked awesome, easy and cheap way to get to and from Boston.
We were driving along Route 1 in Charlestown when I heard a “POP!” under me. My daughter was driving and I was in the back seat passenger side. I immediately told her to pull over, that I thought she blew a tire. She puts the hazards on, pulls over into the break-down lane and Stu & I hop out of the car and do a quick visual on the tires…nothing. BUT then we hear a loud hiss…sure enough, the back right tire was leaking. Back in the car, drive up about 100 feet to pull off of Route 1 to a safe place.
Just look at that monster screw!
Turn off the car, unpack the back, get out the spare and the jack, pull the emergency brake and Stu turns to our daughter, Emma, and says, “Okay, you know how to change a tire?” And with a little trepidation, she grabs the lug wrench and tries to remove the lug nuts. Now she’s 18 and very athletic, but these tires have been on the car for about 18 – 24 months and the lugs don’t budge. So Stu shows her how to do a quick stomp on the wrench to kickstart the loosening process and she is off to the races! She loosens all the lugs enough and then jacks up the car. Next, she removes the lugs and attempts to remove the tire. Won’t budge, remember it’s been on the car for a long time. So Stu steps in and gives it a few swift kicks to knock it loose. After about six kicks and a number of wiggles and pulls, the tire is finally ready to let go.
Emma now has the rapidly deflating tire off and is putting on the spare donut. She puts on the lugs, hand tightens them and gently lowers the jack. Next, she does a few stomps on the lug wrench (in a criss-cross pattern) for each lug to make sure they are on nice and tight and we are good to go! This whole endeavor took about 15 minutes, start to finish. They drop me back off at the office and zip up to Spaulding’s Tire. Spaulding’s is able to repair the tire for about $45 right then and there and Emma is able to make it work by 4p!
Now, what’s the point of this blog? It’s twofold. First, it’s important that everyone that drives a vehicle knows how to change a tire. Sure we could have called AAA, but this took us 15 minutes, we likely would have waited over an hour for AAA to arrive. And second, to remind you the safe steps to take when changing a tire on the road.
- Pull over to a safe spot. If you can not get to a parking lot, or side road, pull as far over to the right as possible, while staying on flat, stable ground.
- Turn on your hazards. If it’s a busy street, take out a hazard marker and place about 50 feet behind your disabled vehicle.
- Get your tools and spare tire out and at the ready.
- Remove the hubcap/wheel cover.
- Loosen the lug nuts (DO NOT REMOVE)
- Properly place the jack. If you are unsure, check the owners manual. Many cars have little indicators on the vehicle for best placement of a jack. If you have wheel wedges or rocks/wood you can wedge under other wheels to further stabilize the vehicle.
- Expand the jack until the tire is about 4-6 inches off the ground.
- Fully unscrew and remove the lug nuts and place in a secure location (maybe in the hubcap/wheel cover).
- Remove the tire. You may need to wiggle or kick to dislodge but NEVER climb under the car to try to dislodge the tire.
- Align the spare with the lug holes and hand tighten the lugs (DO NOT tighten with the lug wrench with the tire in the air).
- Slowly lower the jack until the spare is fully on the ground and tighten with the lug wrench.
- Replace the hubcap/wheel cover if it will fit the spare.
- Get to a tire shop as soon as possible. Most spares are the “donut” type and are only good for about 50 miles.
Those are the basics of changing a tire, but I would also recommend that you go and check the spare and equipment in each of your vehicles. Make sure the spare is properly inflated and that you have the lug wrench and jack. For safety check to see that you have an emergency marker or flares as well.
Happy and safe motoring!