No tire? In your newly-acquired car? Criminy!
Truth is, that a flat tire with no spare is a very widespread situation. Half the vehicles nowadays are delivered without a spare tire from the factory, and getting a spare tire can be costly while the alternatives are much cheaper and just as effective.
The initiative does have a reason to be, and there are huge bonuses that come into play when we get rid of the spare tire, such as:
- Fuel Economy: By removing the spare tire, we’re cutting the overall weight of the vehicle by as much as 50 pounds, and that’s without counting jack or wrench. Less weight equals less fuel consumed!
- Aerodynamics: The spare tire compartment usually increases air drag (because they poke below the undercarriage); their removal increases the performance of your car, both in terms of speed and fuel.
- More effective space: When you’re cramming a compartment space, you’re designing the vehicle like that from the start, making it hard to design smaller vehicles—Sports cars and other smaller vehicles lack these because they’re designed to be small and effective.
- Cheaper Manufacturing: When the carmaker saves several hundreds of dollars, they can’t charge you that. Neat isn’t it?
How to Prevent Flat Tire
Ok, no spare tire is great, we got that. But how do you make ends meet if you don’t have the means?
Before solving the crisis, let’s learn how to avoid it!
Keep an Eye on The Air Pressure
One of the most common causes of tire-related accidents. I suggest checking your tire’s air pressure regularly, once a month ought to have you covered—Refer to your car’s manual to learn which tire pressure is recommended for your wheeler; sometimes you might a find an informational sticker on the inside of the driver’s door, stating the proper pressure in PSI.
Oh, and stop “eyeballing” your tire’s pressure level, that’s impossible and incorrect; use an air pressure gauge!
Check your Tire Treads
Worn down tires are risky, potential victims to accidents; once you locate worn treads, it is time to get new tires.
The proper manner to determine whether your tires are worn out or not is taking a closer look at the wear bars on your tires. If the wear bars are on-level with your treads, you’ve got to get new tires.
Another important step is inspecting your tires wear patterns—uneven wear patterns might lead to handling problems as well, which might generate another series of issues. Excessive wear at the centermost part of your tires are usually related to improper inflation, but alignment issues are capable of damaging your tires too. If you spot such patterns, it is best to care your car to a professional.
Rotate Those Wheels
Seriously, you should learn how to do this. You can rotate your tires with just a jack and couple of jack stands; after some practice, it shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes, and the best part is that you extend your tire’s lifetime with literally no cost!
If you’d like to capitalize on your efforts, rotate your tires after every oil change; that ought to keep those tires as even as they can.
Don’t Overdo It
Or rather, don’t overload it!
Next, to the sidewall of your tire, you should be able of spotting a printed number, telling you the maximum load rating of your tires. Overloaded cars, and therefore tires, are more likely to fail.
Avoid Hazardous Routes
If you know that a route involves passing next to a construction site, packed with debris and other sharp objects laying on the ground, then you can make an alternate route. You wouldn’t like to get your $100 tires pierced by an insignificant sharp rock, would you?
Beside this, routes with potholes should be avoided as well.
How to Fix a Flat Car Tire On the Road
So, preventing the crisis is good and all, but how do you handle the crisis if you have a new car with no spare tire?
Make Sure You’re Safe
Try to put your car somewhere safe along the road, away from traffic, and with the appropriate measures such as emergency light, cones, flares, pylons, etc.
Put your car in park and set your parking brake—If the ground is not flat, chock your tires with rocks, wood blocks, or metal/rubber chucks you have—, and then get your tire-changing tools: at the very least a jack, a jack stand, and a lug wrench (a regular wrench works too, but you’ll need to apply more force).
Fixing The Flat
You’ve got two options here:
A quick pump of air can get you to the nearest tire shop, although that isn’t always the case. Should the inflator not be enough you’ve got:
Complete with tire plugs, probe tool, an air compressor, and a set of pliers. If the tire isn’t severely damaged, you can give it a quick fix to get you rolling for about 100 miles.
Firs, you’ve got to remove the tire. Then, you’ve got to find the leak; in most cases, you should spot the offender rather quickly in the form of a rogue nail, sharp rock, or stubborn debris—Make short work of the transgressor with your pliers, and plug the hole with your kit’s provided patches; you might need to apply several adhesives onto the plug to keep it tight, but about 1 or 2 inches of material should stick out of the tire; once the adhesive is dry, cut the protruding excess of the plug and discard it.
Inflate your tire with the air compressor and see if the leak continues. If it’s good, then you can reattach your tire; don’t tighten the lug nuts all the way in, though, lower the car to the ground and finalize the process by tightening the nuts in an “X” or star pattern, in accordance to your car’s torque requirements.
Get It Replaced
Like I said, the solution is not long-term, but it ought to save you a headache. The patched tire should be more than enough to carry you to the nearest tire shop!
No tire? No problem. Now you know how to both prevent the crisis and fix it!
You can’t prevent everything, but most of the time, you can get yourself out of the tough spot. If the situation is beyond your hands, however, don’t hesitate to look for help.
Good luck, and take care of your tires!