The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.
It is always good to practice changing tyres when there isn’t much of a risk. If you are the adventurous type, you never know when you might get a flat. Perhaps on a forest trail. Or somewhere in the Himalayas, far away from civilization. So if you get a flat tyre in the city, yes, curse for a while. But then take up the fixing with zest and gusto.
Basic tips: have a torch in the vehicle. I had to use my mobile phone torch once, it was a pain holding the phone in my mouth while going through the steps below. Rather idiotic. Appropriate name for the post.
Advanced tips: a. Buy and practice using a hydraulic jack b. Use a torque wrench. You should be able to fix a flat in 5 minutes. But follow this path only if you are ‘that type’ of a person.
Most people rely on drivers or hired help to change tyres. A few pointers for folks not used to getting their hands dirty:
(TLDR: read the vehicle manual. And execute the steps.)
- Restrain the opposite wheel by putting a stone or a brick behind the wheel. I am assuming that you are on a flat, non-slippery surface. If not, then you will have to take care of many other factors. I am not getting into that here, please use Google Fu or ask an offroader friend.
- Loosen the lugs of the tyre you want to change.
- Look up the manual and put the jack in the recommended spot. Don’t go by what roadside tyre shops recommend. Each vehicle has a ‘right’ spot, usually a reinforced point beneath the front or rear cross member – part of the chassis.
- Burn 300 calories while taking out the lugs, then the tyre, then fixing the stepney (read the manual on how to release the stepney tyre for your vehicle), and tightening the lugs. And then while lowering the jack. And while tightening the lugs again. My 4×4 vehicle – monikered Bison – has 265/65/R17 tyres, rather big and heavy. Yes, you need to be a little strong to handle such tyres.
- Get the flat tyre checked and repaired asap. If it is a sidewall damage, then you might have to replace it. Ask experts. Roadside tyre repairers will always try to milk you, but they usually give the right advice if it is a matter of safety.
- Come back. Wash your hands and nails.
- Open a beer to celebrate the physical activity. Some of us spend so much time working with laptops and mobiles. We forget the satisfaction that comes with a physical job well done.
Note: Step 7 is very important.