Know how to change your tire |

Know how to change your tire

Mathew Bayley

EAGLE COUNTY – I would like to talk about to auto safety while traveling long distances. This includes driving from Vail to Denver and Grand Junction. In the context of highway driving, you are in a secure environment when you are driving down the road. If you break down, you want to get up and running as fast as possible. Everyone should know how to change a flat tire. This seems like a no-brainier, but maybe three out of 10 people know where their spare tire is and how to use the jack that is provided by the manufacturer.While I am on that subject, the majority of jacks that come standard on late model cars are just about useless, except in pristine conditions. They are the cheapest possible tools the law allows and definitely not user friendly. Most people I know check out their new outdoor equipment before using it in the mountains. The same should be true for your car’s safety equipment. You are only going to use it if you are in trouble. It would be nice if it was all there and you knew how to work it. I am no mechanic. In fact I cannot fix toast, so if I am going to fix something, especially outdoors, maybe in the rain or at night, I want user friendly tools that I know how to work. Every time we get a new car, my wife and I and now the new drivers in the family (a scary thought) Josh, my oldest son, and Jeremiah, number 2, get out the auto manual, find the spare tire and the jack (which I throw out and replace with a real one) and familiarize ourselves with the new equipment. I am getting on a roll here, so next article I promise to cover the safest way to get help with or without a cell phone, where to look under the hood if the engine stops running, how to use the car as a defensive position in a worst case scenario, the dos and don’ts of dealing with tow truck drivers and how to get the maximum help from law enforcement when stranded on the road – but back to flat tires. Things you should have: 1. A large four-way lug wrench. The little bitty wrenches that come with new cars can be too small to loosen the bolts that hold your tire on. 2. A strong spring or hydraulic jack with a minimum 2,000-pound rating.3. A block of wood to put under your jack in case the ground you are on is soaked from rain, otherwise your jack can slip in the mud while you are using it.4. Road flares. More than one person has been run over trying to change their tire. Get as far off the road as you can on level ground. You cannot jack up your car safely if there is too much slope to the ground. First, put out a couple of road flares then get your spare tire out of the car with your jack and your lug wrench. Always loosen and tighten the bolts on the wheel with the car on the ground . It is easy to pull your car off the jack if it is in the air. Loosen the bolts. If they are too tight, you can use your foot on the end of the lug wrench to get more leverage. Pull the tire off. Put your spare tire up against the wheel. By jacking the car up or down you can line up the studs that the bolts came off of with the holes in the rim of the spare tire and slide your spare tire on. Put the nuts back on with your finger as far as they can go without using your lug wrench. Lower the car down. Once your car is on the ground, finish tightening the nuts with your lug wrench. The bolts are tight when they squeak. Good safety dictates you get your car to a garage and have them fix your tire and check the bolts on the spare within about 50 miles. If you are stopped in a place where you cannot get safely out of traffic, do not try to change your tire. Especially if you own a used car, check to see if you have a jack and all the parts you need to use it and that your spare tire is not flat. There is a great product marketed by a number of names. It is basically a compressed air container with tire sealant in it. Unless your tire is blown off the rim, this product will fill your tire, seal the leak, and get you back on the road in five minutes. The cost is between $3 and $5 and you can get it at supermarkets, Target, Wal-Mart, etc.Master of the Martial Arts Mathew Bayley’s Vail Academy of Martial Arts is taking reservations for the 2004 Safest Summer of All programs, featuring children and adult self-protection programs blended with the martial arts. Call 949-8121 or visit Vail, Colorado

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