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Guest Post: The Importance of a Car Tire Change Kit

Preparedness doesn’t have to just involve zombies, terrorism, and alien invasions – you may just break down on the side of the road. Are you prepared?

 - Rourke


The Importance of a Car Tire Change Kit

by Liz Becker

 

Most of us have been there before. We are driving down the road without a care in the world. Then, without warning, disaster strikes. You feel a bump in the road; your car jerks. It becomes harder to steer, and you hear a dull grind by your wheel. You pull over to the side of the road to investigate, and sure enough, your worst fear has come true. You have a flat tire.

Many people don’t realize that their jack and tire-changing kits aren’t in up to par. It is times like these when it is critical to have a working and up-to-date tire change kit in your car at all times.

 

Tire Change Kit Items

A standard tire change kit usually includes a jack, a spare tire, and a lug wrench. The wrench should have a pry bar on one end and a socket on the other. Depending on what model of car you are driving, your tire change kit may contain additional tools. These tools may include alignment studs, extension bars used to lower the spare tire, and a wheel lock.

There are several different types of jacks available. Scissor jacks are the most common. Bottle jacks contain more power. However, they are less compact than scissor jacks. Many times scissor jacks are included in multipurpose knives, which are good tools to have on hand anyway in case you need to cut a piece of rubber loose from a tire, or remove an obstruction from the tire well. Check out Knifeart.com to find custom knives that will complement your car tire change kit.

There is a variety of similar tire kits that have several unique parts, but each piece is essentially the same to the parts mentioned above. Now that you have all the piece you need, the next step is knowing how to change it, and how to change it safely. Changing your tire on the open road, especially at night, can be a difficult and fearful process – cars rushing by at highway speeds, the lack of knowledge how to change a tire, and the difficulty of the whole process can leave you distressed and helpless, but one you know how to safely set up the process of chaining a tire, there won;t be any need for fear or confusion.

 

Changing a Tire Safely on the Road

Whether you are changing a tire on the highway, a country lane, or even a side street, pull as far into the emergency right lane area as you can. Turn on your emergency flashers. If you have road flares, place them roughly 75 feet behind your car. You want the flares to be far enough away so that people are able to see them and slow down by the time they approach your car. If your car is on a curve, place the flares before the start of the curve.

Before you begin to jack up your car, make sure all the passengers in the car are safely out of the vehicle. If it is possible, remove any heavy objects from inside the car. The point is to remove any unnecessary weight from the car to make it easier to jack up, and safer if an accident occurs and you have to remove the jack.

Next, make sure you are on a completely flat area. Never try to jack the car if you are on gravel or on an incline. Inclines mean the car is more susceptible to tip or fall back down again, making a chance for extreme injury. Always make sure you’re on flat ground before changing a tire.

 

Periodically Check your Tire Change Kit

Hopefully, you will never need to use your tire change kit. Most people have access to roadside assistance, trained professionals who know exactly what they’re doing. Still, knowing how your car works and what to do in an emergency is something everyone should know.

If the need ever arises, and you have to change the tire yourself, you want to be sure everything is in working order – clean, safe, and ready to use. The jack is perhaps the most important item, to use and to keep clean and ready on a regular basis because it is mechanical and can break or malfunction, just like any other tool. Take it out every few months and jack up your car with it to test it out. Make sure your wrench has not become corroded or rusted. Inspect the spare tire and make sure it is in good condition.

Being prepared for a flat tire is easy, so there is no excuse to not have the right equipment. Having these few items with you at all times can prevent a simple problem from turning into a potential nightmare. Once you learn these crucial tips on how to be safe and smart with your tires, you can drive anywhere without ever fearing a flat.


 

Liz is a blogger, freelance writer and recent college graduate. She currently performs market research for an online marketing firm when she is not contributing her own thoughts and observations to the online community.

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10 comments to Guest Post: The Importance of a Car Tire Change Kit

  • Al from NYC

    This is a good article with sound advice but lacking in the most useful:

    You don’t want to have to change a tire to begin with. Don’t wait until you have no treads left. A tire is good for about 40,000 miles. When it wears down, you will be increasingly vulnerable to road hazards. The most common is a nail or drywall screw. Steer clear of wooden pallets, dywall, plywood or any such road debris. It’s a good way to get a flat.

    Carry TWO electric pumps, TWO rubber vulcanizing kits, knee pads, a folding camp stool and a piece of carpet. Also a pair channel lock pliers, a very strong knife, and a spray bottle filled with windshield washer and dishwashing detergent. Don’t bother changing a flat tire if it’s only a nail.

    Inflate the tire and spray it until you see bubbles: There’s your puncture.
    Mark it with chalk, yank out the nail. Your kit has a hand reamer: ream out the hole. Put a vulcanizing strip into the applicator (it looks like a push-dagger with a large-eyed needle head. It’s usually open at the end so the plug will slip off). Apply rubber cement. You can also light it with a match or lighter. Push the needle head into the puncture with a twisting motion. Pull the plunger out from a sharp angle flush with the tread. Cut off the loose
    end. Inflate to proper tire pressure. You’re ready to go without breaking a sweat. Five minutes. This is your 90% scenario.

    Have on hand some WD-40. If you haven’t rotated your tires in over a year,
    I have some bad news for you: That tire will probably NOT come off. I use a
    4-foot iron pipe as a breaker bar to loosen the lug nuts. And even with that, I’ve stopped for people only to bend their lug wrench into a pretzel trying to remove a wheel. That is the flat tire from hell!

    I have full-size spare but I would highly recommend an extra “donut” spare
    as well. Also have a hazard dome light, triangular road reflector, and a reflective safety vest.

    Above all, minimize your window of vulnerability: I met one young man who
    stopped to change a tire for his Mercedes Benz. Bad move! He was robbed at gunpoint and shot in the torso by a team that didn’t want to leave any witnesses. He narrowly survived with his life. I once stopped for a mother and daughter: They stopped because of an air conditioner belt. The daughter was standing by the roadside wearing a short sleeve blouse with cut-off shorts and looked like an easy, tasty meal. Ladies please: If your car is still safely running (unless it’s the engine light) – for Heaven’s sakes, don’t stop on the roadside – drive to an intersection with plenty of traffic.

    If you’re elderly or handicapped, consider investing in run-flat tires. They’re good for 50 miles after losing pressure.

  • Al from NYC

    (Revised for clarity and to correct typos)

    This is a good article with sound advice but lacking in the most useful:

    You don’t want to have to change a tire to begin with. Don’t wait until you have no treads left. A tire is good for about 40,000 miles. When it wears down, you will be increasingly vulnerable to road hazards. The most common is a nail or drywall screw. Steer clear of wooden pallets, drywall, plywood or any such road debris.

    Carry TWO electric pumps, TWO rubber vulcanizing kits, knee pads, a folding camp stool and a piece of carpet. Also a pair of channel lock pliers, a very strong knife, and a spray bottle filled with windshield washer and dishwashing detergent. Don’t bother changing a flat tire if it’s only a nail.

    Inflate the tire and spray it until you see bubbles: There’s your puncture.
    Mark it with chalk, yank out the nail. Your kit has a hand reamer: ream out the hole. Put a vulcanizing strip into the applicator (it looks like a push-dagger with an oversized needle head. It’s usually open at the end so the plug will slip off). Apply rubber cement. You can also light it with a match or lighter. Push the needle head into the puncture with a twisting motion. Pull the plunger out from a sharp angle flush with the tread. Cut off the loose end. Inflate to proper tire pressure. You’re ready to go without breaking a sweat. Five minutes max. This is your 90% scenario.

    Now for the other 10 Percent:

    Have on hand some WD-40. If you haven’t rotated your tires in over a year,
    I have some bad news for you: That tire will probably NOT come off. I use a
    4-foot iron pipe as a breaker bar to loosen the lug nuts. And even with that, I’ve stopped for people only to bend their lug wrench into a pretzel trying to remove a wheel. That is the flat tire from hell!

    I have a full-size spare but I would highly recommend an extra “donut” spare
    as well. Also have a hazard dome light, triangular road reflector, and a reflective safety vest.

    Above all, minimize your window of vulnerability: I met one young man who
    stopped to change a tire for his Mercedes Benz. Bad move! He was robbed at gunpoint and shot by a robbery team that didn’t want to leave any witnesses. He narrowly survived a trip to the hospital. I once stopped for a mother and her daughter: They stopped because of a noisy air conditioner belt. The 20-something daughter was standing by the roadside wearing a T-Shirt with short cut-off denim shorts and looked like an easy victim for any sexual predator.

    Ladies please: If your car is still safely running (unless it’s the engine light) – for Heaven’s sakes, don’t stop on the roadside – drive to an intersection with plenty of traffic.

    If you’re elderly or handicapped, consider investing in run-flat tires. They’re good for 50 miles after losing tire pressure.

  • Rourke

    Al –

    Excellent!!! Thanks….

    Take care – Rourke

  • CaptTurbo

    It sounds like the Author knows little about changing tires. Never jack the car if you are on gravel or an incline? My foot! You is where you is. Deal with it!

    Use a wooden board to give the jack a larger footprint, engage the emergency brake, chock the wheels …and get-r done.

  • IAFARMER

    I’m a rural mailman… I probably have changed or fixed more tires than some service stations. That being said, might I add a few pointers. First get out and survey the situation; how badly is the tire damaged. If it is obviously junk, you can’t hurt much by driving slowly to a better or flatter or safer location. Now I don’t mean miles, but a couple hundred yards is OK to improve your situation. If the tire is low, one of those 12 volt pumps can be a good idea. Personally I don’t use one, as I can change a tire quicker than those small pumps can inflate one. I carry a 3×3 foot piece of 3/4 inch plywood as a base for my jack. Important! go to the garage right now and trash your jack that came with the car, before you get your day ruined– the best trunk jack is at best slow and DANGEROUS. Buy a real jack—and NOT a bottle jack, as they won’t fit under the frame of a car with a flat tire! Get one of those small aluminum floor jacks that are rated at two or three tons. It will be the last jack you buy.
    With the car on a flat safe area, loosen all the lug nuts half a turn before you jack. Have the spare close at hand. Jack the car up high enough that the spare will slide on without further jacking. Remove the lug nuts, take off the flat and as quickly as possible replace the spare on the stud bolts and start two or three nuts. A “four way” or “crossbar” wrench is really handy ( you can buy one about 10 feet from where you bought your new Jack) Replac the res of the nutsand turn them reasonably tight

  • IAFARMER

    to continue, let the jack down and tighten all nuts, chuck everything in the trunk and happy travels.

  • Chas of Alaska

    Good comments by all…

    I have a history of getting flats at night and in the snow… I carry a complete set of extra lug nuts. I don’t smoke, so they are stored in the ashtray so I always know where there are…

    After you have lost a couple of lug nuts in the snow and risked frost bite by sifting through the snow attempting to find them, you will carry a few spares too…

  • Border reiver

    I have two Duh moments to add. You should check tire pressure every month or two anyway, but most people do not check the spare. Sucks big time to have everything ready and find out your spare is flat. It also sucks when you have everything, but the lug wrench is the wrong size. The 4-way lug wrench usually takes care of it but make sure you have the key for locking lug nuts. Good luck.

  • Marvin

    Again, very sage advise. I have been stuck out in the mountains east of Hesperia CA, back in the day, and I sure could have used the basic tools of tire repair IE, small aircompressor patches and plugs. So there i sat with my hands in my lap waiting for help. Fortunately my radio was still working and I was able to contact REACT for help. Otherwise it would have been a long hot walk down the mountain.

    Marvin

  • Al from NYC

    Just a few afterthoughts:

    You should also have a good headstrap or ballcap mounted LED light to keep your hands free and/or a few snaplights. I use a 4-ton capacity bottle-jack after lifting it part way with the scissor – but I just figured a way around that: Just have a sandbag with about 5-10 pounds of sand and roll your flat tire over it. You’ll then have ample clearance to use the bottle-jack. (It’s far cheaper and more compact IMO). The aluminum floor jack is IDEAL but $200 is a little steep for me. A 12V impact wrench (keep your engine running while you use it – it does drain your battery) will speed things up and the scissor jack BTW usually has a hex nut – over which you can place the impact wrench. It’s good to have redundancy – and keep your tire change kit in a go-bag and up to date.

    Thinking about the robbery scenario while your changing a flat: I also keep a camo tarp to hide the car if the need ever arises while I use it for cover. If you have an expensive ride and you can move it 30 yds from the roadside, it might be the better way to go without attracting attention. Happy motoring.