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Automotive Emergencies: Part 2
We all know how important it is to have a basic knowledge of first aid in an emergency, but how many of you know first aid for an automotive emergency? This is part two of a three part series that will help you be prepared should you suffer a automotive break down.
 More of this Feature
Part 1: Emergency Stops
Part 2: Emergency Stops
Part 3: Emergency Stops
Part 4: Car Doesn't Work
• Part 5: Change A Flat Tire
Part 6: Other Problems
 Join the Discussion
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"Pay This $300 Repair Bill, or Dispute??"
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Past Articles
Index of Illustrations
Auto Repair Glossary
Trouble Shooting
Do It Yourself
Automotive Emergencies: Part 1
Automotive Emergencies: Part 3
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How to Change A Flat Tire

Changing a flat is something you should practice before you get a flat. This is something that should be done by everyone who drives the vehicle, Mom, Dad, Son, or Daughter. Pull off the road as far and as safely as possible. Park on a hard level surface if at all possible, even if it means driving into a nearby parking lot. Turn on your four way flashers. Chock one front and one rear wheel. Place an automatic transmission into PARK or a manual transmission into REVERSE. You should have wheel chocks, a lug wrench, rubber hammer, penetrating oil and, of course, the jack in your trunk.

If your vehicle has hubcaps, use the screwdriver or the end of the jack handle to pry it off. Some hubcaps have a lock in the center that needs a special key to remove. In most vehicles it is attached to, or near, the jack or jack handle. On some vehicles it is in the glove compartment. Make sure you know where it is before you need it.

Crack the lug nuts loose before you jack up the vehicle so you don't knock the vehicle off the jack. Put your foot on the lug wrench and turn the lug nuts counterclockwise. Remember, righty tighty lefty loosey.

Some lug nuts have a left-handed thread. Look on the end of the wheel stud and if you see an "L", it is a left-handed thread. In that case you would turn the lug wrench clockwise to remove them.

Use the penetrating oil on the lug nuts and wait a few minutes to make getting them off easier, especially if they are rusted.

Scissor jacks will have a pad, slot or protrusion that they fit into; bumper jacks will fit into a slot in the bumper. Actually, I haven't seen a bumper jack in years but a lot of older vehicles will have them. Place the jack in the position shown in the owner's manual. Some vehicles have detailed instructions with diagrams. Jack up the vehicle until the wheel is about an inch off the ground. Now remove all the lug nuts and slide the tire off.

Position the spare in the wheel well and line up the holes in the spare with the wheel studs and place the tire on the vehicle. Most spare tires on passenger cars are of the "Space Saver" type. These tires are for temporary use only and you should not exceed the maximum speed prominently marked on the tire, usually 50 miles per hour. Have the original tire repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

Install the lug nuts and tighten them by hand, then a ¼ turn with the lug wrench. Don't tighten them completely just yet. Lower the vehicle and remove the jack. In a crisscross pattern, tighten the lug nuts in this order. Be careful not to over tighten them or they may break off. Another ½ turn is tight enough.


If it is a full size spare, replace the hubcap being careful the valve stem goes through the hole provided for it in the hubcap. Use the rubber mallet to tap the hubcap on or hit it hard with the heel of your hand. Check it by tugging on it to make sure it is on tightly.

If the tire has a slow leak, you can use a can of flat fixer to temporarily repair it. Just follow the directions on the can carefully. Drive to the next service station and have it repaired as soon as possible. Be sure to tell the attendant that the tire contains an aerosol flat-tire fixer so he can take the proper precautions when repairing it.

Low air pressure and worn tires can make squealing noises, mostly when turning. Check the tire pressures and replace worn out tires. Low air pressure, bad front-end parts or the front end being out of alignment will cause rapid tire wear. Check and correct the tire pressures. If they are okay, take it to a repair shop and have the front end and wheel alignment checked.

A few things can cause a tire wobble. Always first, check the tire pressures, lug nuts or bad tires. Correct the problem if one of these problems is found. Missing wheel weights, bent rims, worn steering linkage or misalignment can also cause a wheel wobble. Have the car repaired by a mechanic if you can't fix it yourself.

Next page » Other Problems » 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Additional information provided courtesy of ALLDATA

© 2004 Vincent T. Ciulla

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