What to do When you get a Flat Tire

Jerry WalchStarred Page By Jerry Walch, 22nd Jan 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/34r23-52/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Transport>Repair and Maintenance>Cars

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

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.

Safety tips

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.

Related articles

Things All Women Should Know!!

Tags

Car, Cars, Flares, Flat Tire, Flats, Impact Wrench, Jack, Lug Wrench, Reflecors, Roadside Emergencies, Safety, Safety Precautions, Safety Vehicle Gear, Scissor Jack, Tubeless Tire Repair

Meet the author

author avatar Jerry Walch
Jerry Walch is a 70 year old freelance writer for hire living in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He has been writing since the late 1970s, and writes for both the print and online media. He specializes in

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Comments

author avatar stephaniemorris26
22nd Jan 2012 (#)

Very good article! My stepfather started teaching me all this stuff when I was very young. Said it was very important for a woman to be able to take care of herself!

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author avatar Jerry Walch
22nd Jan 2012 (#)

Thank you Stephanie. I actually taught automotive mechanic at the junior college level for a couple of years. Sounds like your stepfather was a very loving and wise man.

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author avatar krrymarie
22nd Jan 2012 (#)

Good article, the donut tire is also called a space saver! and you can also get some stuff ( forgot what it is called) that pumps into the tire so if you get a puncture then it fill the hole and repairs it. on the space saver tyre you can only drive round about 50 miles then it has to be replaced.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
22nd Jan 2012 (#)

The stuff you are talking about is called "Fix-A-Flat" but I and most mechanic do not recommend using it accept as a last resort because it makes a real mess for the tire service center to clean out of the tire before they can repair it properly. For the time it takes to pump a can of that gunk into a tire you can plug the hole the way I explained in the article and that plug is the same as the tire service person would have installed. It is a permanent repair.

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author avatar Songbird B
22nd Jan 2012 (#)

Excellent article Jerry and a great add on to Stephanie's recent page.. This could prove invaluable to any woman that gets stranded by a flat tyre when she is alone..

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author avatar Jerry Walch
22nd Jan 2012 (#)

More article on other common car problem to come, Songbird B.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
22nd Jan 2012 (#)

Thanks Jerry - Electric gizmos for the job. Excuse me while I go to Canadian Tire and buy them...

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author avatar Sheila Newton
22nd Jan 2012 (#)

Thank you - this is my first real lesson in car mechanics. And still I don't understand! Hahaha!
Well done on the STAR.

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author avatar Jules, The Cowboy
23rd Jan 2012 (#)

you just won over Onstar my friend

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author avatar Denise O
23rd Jan 2012 (#)

Great article illustrating a must all people should know how to do. I learned how to change a tire about 25 years ago. My ex (hubby at the time) said he would not do it and if the kids and I want to go shopping, then I needed to change it, so I did.
My hubby now has taught both kids what to do, on a must need basis. Our daughter is his grease monkey sidekick though. Nice one. Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Buzz
23rd Jan 2012 (#)

Very informative article, Jerry. Helpful tips for Wikinut motorists.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
23rd Jan 2012 (#)

Thank you one and all for reading and for your comments.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
23rd Jan 2012 (#)

Outstanding information...

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author avatar Jerry Walch
23rd Jan 2012 (#)

Thank you, Delicia.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
24th Jan 2012 (#)

My wife's favorite method of fixing a flat is to stand there looking bewildered!

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author avatar Jerry Walch
24th Jan 2012 (#)

That works, Mark, if a truly good Samaritan happens to pass by.

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author avatar Carol
24th Jan 2012 (#)

Very helpful article Jerry, well done on the star! Have to admit before reading this, I was like Mark's wife.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
24th Jan 2012 (#)

I'm pleased that I was able to help, Carol.

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author avatar Valerie L Mckay
21st Jul 2012 (#)

I never know where to place the jack so the car doesn't fall...

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author avatar Jerry Walch
21st Jul 2012 (#)

Most modern car have designated jacking points which can be found in your owner's manual and, in some case, on a diagram affixed to the driver's side door jamb.

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