Auto Talk

Essential Tips for Fixing Flats

It is important to be equipped with a strong and reliable jack.
February 2018

For many Americans, fixing a flat remains a mystery. According to a survey from AAA, nearly 20 percent of U.S. drivers don’t know how to change a flat tire and what’s more, every driver is predicted to experience up to five flat tires in their lifetime. Before hitting the road, study up on these flat-tire-fixing hacks and build up the confidence to complete this All-American road test:

• Be spared: Knowing how to change a flat is all for naught if a spare tire is not along for the ride. Spares are usually hidden under the carpet in the trunk area, but aren’t always included in newer vehicles. When purchasing a new vehicle, ask the dealer about the inclusion of a spare.

• Flatlining signs: A flat tire is usually accompanied by a loud noise or rubber flapping. The vehicle will feel like it’s being pulled toward the side of the flat tire, and as if the vehicle can no longer accelerate. When in doubt, activate hazard lights and move the vehicle safely out of traffic, with enough space on the side of the road.

• Hit the road, Jack: Having the right tools on board is critical, and that’s where a jack comes in. Having a compact, strong and reliable partner in replacing the bum tire and raising up the vehicle is vital. Remember, the jack is only used to get the vehicle off the ground, not to hold the vehicle in place. That’s where jack stands — like ones included on Northern Tool + Equipment’s Strongway Jacks — come in to ensure a safe and sustained lift.

• Rider’s block: A common, and dangerous, error when changing a tire is not using blocks to prevent the wheels from rolling once the vehicle is raised. A tire-changing tool pack should include bricks or wooden wedges to be placed behind the wheels at the end of the vehicle that isn’t being raised.

• Get loose: Once the jack has been cranked up, and the wheel is slightly off the ground, remove the hubcap, use a tire iron to loosen the lug nuts and pull off the flat tire. Be careful not to strip the lug nuts.

• On the road again: With the flat tire off, line up the spare tire’s holes with the wheel bolts and push on, hand-screwing the lug nuts back on. Then, lower the jack a touch so the wheel is in slight contact with the ground. Use the tire iron to secure the lug nuts in a “star-like” pattern —(BPT).


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