Every morning, I commute from my home in Orange to our office here in Ladera Ranch. Most days, my commute is uneventful and I get to the office without incident… Until this morning! First, I should say that I am not the best driver. I do have a bit of a lead foot and find myself driving over the speed limit – which, I know, as the daughter of a mechanic – means that my tires will garner more wear and tear than the “average” driver.
I also, somehow have the tendency to find every nail there is to find in construction zones and my tires unfortunately pay that price. As I was saying, this morning was a bit of a “to-do” when it came to my usual morning commute. As I was driving I could hear a very low “shhhhhhhhhhh” noise coming from one of my tires. And then all of a sudden a loud… POP! One of my back tires blew. Luckily, I was still in the “slow lane” and was able to move over to the shoulder of the 55 freeway. I was already in the middle of prime traffic, and though I am no stranger to changing tires, I had never had to change a tire on the freeway – and luckily I have AAA (thanks, mom) – so I called a driver out to put the spare on my tire and head on my way. Fortunately for me, no accidents were caused by my flat and because I had enough room to move over to the shoulder.
So, of course as I was waiting for AAA to arrive, I thought that the topic of tire blowouts, how they happen, how to avoid them, ultimately how to change a tire would be a perfect idea. So here we are!
Most tire blowouts happen during late Spring to early Fall – this is because the temperature is usually the warmest and people have a tendency to drive farther and faster. This combination can push a neglected or worn tire to the point of breaking. Other causes of tire blow outs are:
Air allows the tires to carry to carry the weight of the vehicle, its occupants, and any other cargo and without proper air pressure, the tire and the components that make up the tire – rubber, fabric, steel, etc. – stretch beyond the tires limits. The very nice AAA gentleman that changed my tire told me to think of it like an old wire clothes hanger – if you manipulate the metal long and far, it will overheat and snap. Driving long distances while having an under inflated tire can have a tremendous affect on the wear and eventual blowout of the tire.
This is something that I really should have known about! But I didn’t. A tire can be severely damaged if you slam into a pothole, driveway lip, or any other roadway hazard – think of freeway construction where there is a lip or a dip in the concrete. The impact can pinch the internal part of a tire and if you hit the pothole or lip hard enough, you may end up cutting or fray the internal part of the tire. It is not an uncommon theme for a pothole to cut all the way through the rubber of the tire and the tire will blow right there.
The slow death of a tire generally refers to the normal wear and tear of a tire that has not been serviced, rotated, or inspected. Underinflation, Overloading (too much weight in the car), potholes, heat, driving long distances at an accelerated speed, all are ways that contribute to the slow death of a tire. You may not see the affects of these right away, but overtime the tire will succumb to the wear and tear and may unexpectedly blow out.
Changing a Flat Tire 101
What You Will Need :
- Spare Tire
- Tire Gauge (optional)
- Tire Blocks (optional)
Changing That Tire:
- Finding a Safe Place to Pull Over: Pull as far over to the shoulder as you can. Make sure not to park your car at the curve of the shoulder where any approaching cars cannot see you. If you can, find a flat spot so that jacking your car up will not be difficult for you. Be sure that your parking brake is set and is you have a manual transmission, leave your car in gear.
- Hazards: Turn your hazard lights on – this is especially important at night.
- Get your jack, wrench, and spare tire from the trunk and set them up (safely) next to the tire that needs replacement
- Use the Wrench to Loosen Lug Nuts: Do NOT remove the lug nuts, simply loosen them by turning the wrench to the left (think righty-tighty, lefty-loosey)
- You may need to remove the hubcap at this time
- Use the Jack to Lift the Car: Once the jack is in the correct spot (reference your owners manual), jack up the car until the tire is at least 6-inches from the ground
- Now Remove the Lug Nuts: Remove the lug nuts and pull the tire straight toward yourself and remove it from the wheel base
- Put the lug nuts in a pile near you – as you will still need them
- Place the Spare Tire on the Car: Line up the lug nut posts with the holes in the spare tire and push the spare all the way onto the wheel base until the tire cannot go any farther.
- Put the Lug Nuts Back On: Don’t screw them on too tightly, but make sure they are secure.
- Lower the Car to the Ground: Use the jack to lower the car back to the ground and remove the jack from underneath the car.
- Make Sure the Lug Nuts Are Tightened: Now that the car is on the ground, you can go ahead and tighten the lug nuts. Tighten opposite lug nuts gradually until each lug nut is as tight as it can be.
- Put the Flat Tire and Tools Back in the Trunk: To keep the roads (and yourself) safe, put all of your tools back in your trunk and do not leave them on the side of the road.
Please also see this step-by-step video on how to change a tire:
Safe driving includes making sure that your car is safe to drive as well. Making sure that your tires pressure is adequate and getting a tune up every three months. Yes, other incidents can happen that are unexpected. Things happen.
Safe road travels – especially during this upcoming holiday season!
If you or someone you know have been injured in an accident, contact us today. Consultations are free!