The question may seem trivial, but not everything is so simple in the world of tire puncture. If you are lucky, and your car model lends itself to it, you have installed so-called “run flat” tires like those of GoodYear or BF Goodrich which, even if they are flat, can drive a few kilometers to get to the garage the most close.
But, most often, you find yourself in a more ordinary situation: your tire is flat, and you have in the trunk a spare tire. Now you have to change it ..
A small gesture that may seem simple at first but which, as I myself proved with some colleagues, is not as easy as you might think.
On a beautiful Saturday morning in January, as melting snow floods the paved roads, four automotive journalists (whose name I will not mention in order to prevent to damage their reputation) are on the road to the Detroit Auto Show at the wheel a big Chrysler SUV.
Arriving in the heart of Montreal, the tire pressure warning light flashed and displayed the word “flat”. Because this technology was still new and not always reliable, our four companions decided not to take it into account … until a few hundred meters later, the tire deflates completely, forcing the vehicle to stop, thankfully on a safe secondary road.
It’s okay, our reporters friends said, just change the wheel. They take the suitcases installed in the trunk, place them directly on the second row so as not to put them in the snow, and lift the floor of the cargo area. No luck, there is no tire or jack. In fact, the tire was housed under the cab, and held by a steel cable. Cable that can be untied with the help of tools and jacks … placed under the second row.
It was therefore necessary to remove all the suitcases and put them in the snow, take the tools and untie the spare tire. First stage.
Then, to install the jack and lift the car, which is normally done at the edge of the wheel, nothing to do. It took one of the four occupants to lie down in the snow to hold the jack end under the frame, behind the wheel. Of course, if we had taken the time to read the owner’s manual, we would have been aware.
How to change a wheel
This is where the practical tips begin. To change the wheel, follow these tips:
Remove the wheel by pulling it parallel to the axle. Remember that the wheel is heavy.
Once you have removed it, place it on the side to prevent it from rolling. Replace the punctured wheel with the spare wheel by aligning the holes and studs. You can tighten the wheel nuts, first with your hands, then firmly with a wrench.
When replacing the wheel nuts, tighten them one after the other following a star pattern, by jumping one nut each time, not clockwise. If your wheel has four nuts and not five, then tighten them in a cross pattern, by tightening the opposite nuts.
You can now slowly lower the car on the ground (do not drop it, as this may damage it and you could be injured). Tighten the nuts again (again using the star or cross pattern) as firmly as possible.
The sequel for our journalists
We will spare here the swear words uttered by our journalist friends. While two were driving to change the wheel, one was pacing and fuming while the other was trying to reach the roadside assistance that was not serving Canada at the time!
Once the spare wheel is in place, it’s time to put away the flat tire. To make matters worse, his shape does not allow it to get back under the truck. It was therefore necessary to replace all the suitcases and lock it in the trunk by force, which left a smell of rubber all along the journey!
There is a better way to change the wheels. And the journalists I was part of did not choose the easiest.
But before doing as they do, find out what you need. Is your spare wheel in good condition? Is it temporary tire, because if it is, you can not exceed 80 km per hour for a short time? Do you have other solutions, like the compressor with the swelling foam that allows you to repair quickly?
In any case, always think of security. Make sure to stop on a quiet road and use roadside assistance. This will save you a lot of trouble!