What to do When you get a Flat Tire
This is just the first in a series of articles on how to handle roadside emergencies that I will be doing for the ladies. I was inspired to begin this series by StephanieMorris26, who wrote: Things All Women Should Know!! Roadside flats is a problem that every driver encounters sooner or later, and there are two ways to handle a roadside flat. One way is to remove the flat and install the spare tire or the “donut.” The other is to repair the flat without removing it from the car.
- Facts about your Donut spare
- Portable electric car jack.
- Portable battery-powered impact wrench.
- Portable battery-powered air compressor.
- Tubeless tire repair kit.
- Safety tips
- Related articles
Facts about your Donut spare
Modern automobiles do not come with a “real” spare tire, but have a “Donut” instead. The donut was introduced because of the limited space available to store a real spare tire, a jack, and a lug wrench in the truck of compact cars. Donuts are smaller than a real spare tire and are designed for limited use. The safe driving range for a donut spare is under 70 miles at a speed of 50 miles per hour or less. Donuts have no real tread to speak of and thus effect the stability of the vehicle, the operation of the anti-lock braking system, and the handling characteristics of the vehicle. The donut was designed to get you to the nearest service center where the real tire can be repaired or replaced. Of the two options available to you when you encounter a roadside flat, repairing the flat while still on your car is your best option and it is relatively easy to do.
Portable electric car jack.
Although the mechanical, scissor jack that came with your car will work satisfactorily, an electric jack that plugs into your car's power outlet or into the cigarette lighter socket will speed things up. Who wants to spend any more time out in the cold changing a tire than is absolutely necessary. A power jack will run you between $30 and $60 depending on where you buy one.
Portable battery-powered impact wrench.
Just as the scissor jack that came with your car will do the job it was designed to do, so will the lug wrench that came with your car, if you have the physical strength to break those lug nuts loose. After a while those lug nuts really set up and they can be a challenge even to us guys when using a short-handled lug wrench. On the other hand, one of these nifty impact wrenches that plug into cars cigarette lighter socket makes removing and replacing lug nut a breeze. Like with the jack, one of these tools will run you $30 to $60 depending on where you buy it.
Portable battery-powered air compressor.
You will need a source air to inflate your flat tire after you plug the leak. You could carry canned air or a small refillable tank, but a portable battery-powered air compressor is your best option. Like the jack and impact wrench, these air compressors plug right into your car's cigarette lighter socket or an auxiliary power outlet. A good one will run around $30 to $50. You can get one for $10 or less but you will end up replacing them after one or two uses because they are made of plastic and they burn out quickly.
Tubeless tire repair kit.
As I stated earlier the best way to handle a roadside flat is to repair it without removing it from the car. In most cases you can do this if you have a tubeless tire repair kit in roadside emergency supply kit. A tubless tire plugging kit like the one shown here will cost less than $10 at any auto supply store or at any Big Box store. The kits come with detailed instructions on how to use them, but here is a quick recap on those instructions.
- Jack the car up so you can run your hand completely around the tire to locate the puncture.
- If the puncture site is not clearly evident, inflate the tire enough so you can find the puncture by running your hand around the tire.
- Once you have located the puncture, insert the reaming tool that came with the repair kit in the puncture hole. Move the reamer in and out of the hole several file the inner edges of the puncture smooth.
- Inflate the tire to 50 percent capacity before plugging. For most car tires that will be 14 PSI.
- Select a plug slightly larger in diameter than the hole and thread the plug through the eye in the plug insertion tool. Insert the plug insertion tool and one end of the plug into the tire, twisting the tool to free it of the plug before pulling the tool out of the tire. Squeeze tire cement into the hole than cut the plug so that only 1/8 of an inch extend beyond the hole. Squeeze more cement over the plug orming a cap.
- Allow a few minutes for the cement to dry before inflating the tire to its full capacity. Lower the car to the ground and store your tools away.
- Continue on your trip.
Make sure that you place the transmission in park and have set the emergency brake before jacking up the car. If it is dark you should also set out emergency reflectors or flares so approaching motorist will be aware of your presence at the side of the road.