Monday, March 29, 2010

Tired Out

When I was in high school, and friend of mine blew a tire down the street from my house. She called AAA on her car phone, but they were backed up and said they couldn't get there for an hour. So she called me and said, "Of all of my friends, you are the one I would expect to know how to change a tire". It was one of the nicest compliments anyone could have given me, and I was so flattered I said I'd be right there. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I really had no idea how to change a tire.  My dad wasn't home, and this was in the days before you could find the answer to anything on helpful blogs on the internet (If you're doing mental math thinking, "Hmmm... car phone, no internet... the mid-90s?," stop it, please). So I went in blind, fooled around with the jack, got my favorite Express jeans and my hands all dirty, and managed to get half the lug nuts off before AAA arrived. On that day, I vowed that I wasn't just going to be the kind of person who people think can change a tire, but would become someone who actually could.
And now I pass that can-do spirit on to you. Feel free to print this out and put it in your glove box. You'll be able to fix your tire and get back on the road in no time...flat.

Step 1: Get to safety. Pull the car as far off the main part of the road as possible, without allowing any wheels to go onto soft dirt or sloped ground.  Ideally you want all four tires to be on flat, solid ground, on a straight part of the road where approaching cars can see you from a distance. Turn on your emergency flasher lights, and get any passengers out of the car and safely away from the road. Secure the car from rolling- put on the emergency break, and, if you can find one, put a heavy rock or brick in front of the front tire (if you are fixing a rear tire) or the rear tire (if you are fixing a front tire).

Step 2: Get your tools out of the trunk.  You should find a spare tire, a lug wrench, and a jack (if it's after dark you may also need a flashlight). Place the jack under the frame of the car near the tire that you need to change. Make sure it is on the metal (NOT plastic) part of the frame.  When in doubt, get low and take a peek under the car- on most cars there will be groove marks just behind the front wheel wells, and in front of the rear wheel wells which indicate where the jack should go. Once it is in place, raise the jack so that it is supporting, but not lifting the car.

Step 3: Remove the hubcabs and use the lugwrench to loosen (but not remove) the lug nuts. (Remember: lefty loosey, righty tighty) The nuts might be on there real tight, so you might need to step on the wrench to get them loose.

Step 4: Raise the jack until it lefts the tire about 6 inches off the ground.  Don't stop just because the flat tire is off the ground- you will need more clearance to get the inflated tire on. As you lift, make sure the car is stable and not moving.

Step 5: Fully remove the lug nuts (you can use the hubcap as a dish to hold them, just make sure you don't pull a Christmas Story and send them flying into the road). Pull the flat tire off- it's easiest if you put your hands on either side of the tire and pull it straight toward your chest.

Step 6: Put the new tire on, aligning the tire bolts with the holes on the tire. Put on the lug nuts and tighten by hand. Use the lugwrench to tighten the bolts, but not all the way- tighten them a little at a time, going around in a "star" pattern, until they are equally tight.

Step 7: Lower the car to the ground, and re-tighten the lug nuts. Remove the jack and replace the hubcap. Put all your tools back in the trunk, and remove any blocks from the tires.

Step 8: Let your friends get back in the car, take off the emergency brake and get back on the road! Make sure to call me on the car phone and let me know you're okay.


Lindsay N. Strickland said...

Love the post, and your blog! I too know how to change a flat tire in a pinch. It's an elating feeling, not having to call my hub, dad or brother!

I randomly found your blog thru google (my best friend!), and as I scrolled down your blog, I literally laughed out loud. Before getting married I was an obsessive Martha Stewart Wedding magazine reader. One in particular featured a fabulous wedding with vintage china similar to what I collect. I searched high and low for vintage ribbon akin to that wrapped around the Bride's bouquet, I just loved it. Long story short- it was your wedding! Just wanted you to know it was unique and fabulous!

Jenna said...

Lol. I recognize this story! I still haven't learned how to change a tire. Thanks for the post!

Lily said...

Lindsay- small world! I'm so flattered you liked my wedding pics.

Jenna- you caught me! I hope you are doing well- I sometimes stalk you on Facebook, and it seems like you are shining, as always (well maybe not at car repair, but who am I to judge?). Lots of love to you and your family!