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Changing a flat tyre

HAVE you ever gotten stuck on the side of the road with a flat, or do you dread someday getting trapped in that kind of scenario? Do you want to be able to change a tyre without having to ask for help? Fortunately, changing a tyre is a pretty simple task, if you don't mind a little bit of grease!


1. Find a stable and safe place to work. You need a solid, level surface. Avoid soft ground and hills. If you are near a road, park as far from traffic as possible and turn on your emergency flashers (hazard lights).

2. Make sure that the car cannot roll. Apply the parking brake and put car in "Park" position or in first or reverse if using a standard transmission. If possible, it is a good idea to place a heavy object (such as a brick) in front of the front tyre (if changing a rear tyre), and vice-versa.

3. Take out the spare tyre and the jack. Place the jack under the frame near the tyre that you are going to change. Make sure that you place it where it will meet the metal portion of the frame.

4. Many cars have molded plastic along the bottom, and if you don't place the jack in the right spot, it will crack the plastic when you start lifting. If you are not sure about the right place to put the jack, read the owner's manual.

For most modern cars, there is a small notch or mark just behind the front wheel wells or in front of the rear wheel wells where the jack is intended to be placed.

Raise the jack until it is supporting, but not lifting the car. The jack should be firmly in place against the underside of the vehicle. Make sure that it is lifting straight up and down.

5. Remove the hub cap and loosen the nuts by turning counterclockwise. Don't take them all the way off. Just break the resistance. Having the wheel on the ground means that you are turning the nuts instead of the wheel.

Use the wrench that came with your car or a standard cross wrench. Your wrench may have different sizes of openings on different ends. Place the right size of the wrench on the lug nut. The right size is the one that slips easily over the nut but does not rattle.

It can take quite a lot of force to break your lug nuts free. If all else fails, you can use your body weight or stomp on the wrench (be absolutely certain you are turning it the right way).

6. Pump or crank the jack to lift the tyre off the ground. You need to lift it high enough to remove the flat tyre and to put the spare on it. As you lift, make sure that the car is stable. If you notice any instability, lower the jack and fix the problem before full lifting the car.

If you notice the jack lifting at an angle or leaning, lower and reposition it so that it can lift straight up. Chock the tyres if you notice the car starting to roll. You can use logs, large stones or other heavy, solid objects to help keep the car in place.

7. Remove the nuts the rest of the way. Turn them counter clockwise until they are loose. Repeat with all lug nuts, then remove the nuts completely.

8. Remove the tyre. Place the flat tyre under the vehicle so in event of jack failure the vehicle will fall on the old wheel, hopefully preventing injury. If the jack is placed on a flat, solid base, you shouldn't have any problems.

9. Place the spare tyre on the hub. Take care to align the rim of the spare tyre with the wheel bolts, then put on the lug nuts. Tighten the nuts by hand until they are all snug. They should turn easily at first.

Using the wrench, tighten the nuts as much as possible. To ensure the tyre is balanced, don't completely tighten the nuts one at a time.

Going in a star pattern around the tyre, one nut across from another, give each one a full turn until they are equally tight. Tighten the lug nuts again once the car is down and there is no risk of it falling.

10. Lower the car to the ground. Do not put full weight on it yet. Finish tightening the nuts as much as possible. Lower the car to the ground fully and remove the jack. Tighten the nuts again. Replace the hubcap.

Tyre Safety Check

Before heading out for a long trip, it is important to check that your tyres are in top condition. There are some very simple steps that you can follow to reassure yourself that they're up to the task.

* Check the inflation pressure. The best time to check this is when the tyres are cold. When testing them, check against the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations for tyre inflation and make sure that yours reflect this properly.

* Check the valve caps. It is important to see if the valve caps are tight so that the possibility of air leakage is minimised, along with preventing the entry of dirt into the tyres. Tighten if necessary.

* Check for signs of irregular wear. If there are any signs of irregular wear on your tyres, this may indicate a need for wheel alignment, rotation of the tyres and balancing. Check ahead in enough time to book the car in if this is needed.

* Check for damage. Damage to tyres may not necessarily result in an instant puncture but you may have foreign objects gradually working their way through your tyres. Look for nails embedded in the tread, sidewall damage and stone damage. Have the tyre repaired before you undertake your big trip.

Source: New Straits Times - Wed, Jul 27, 2011 - 1Klassifieds
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