I was reminded the other day how important it is to service your spare tire periodically.
I suspect that most of us don’t even think about our spare tires until we get a flat. By that time it may already be too late and you could be facing a significant inconvenience and/or expense.
I had a call from a customer recently who had a flat tire and they wondered if I could come out and help them put the spare tire on. So I went out thinking ok no problem put the spare tire on. However when I opened the trunk compartment to get out the spare I found that the mechanism that holds the spare in the trunk was completely forzen with rust (and this was on a relatively new 06 car). Not only that but the spare itself was nearly flat. I ended up spending alot more time making a number of trips back and forth to the shop to get more tools than I should have had to even get the spare out of the trunk. Then I still had to take the spare tire back to the shop, fill with air and then take it back to the car install it on the car.
We (myselft included) just forget about that spare tire back in the truck and assume it will be there if we need it. I have seen many instances in the normal process of inspecting a car where the spare has lost pressure over time and is essentially flat. I have also seen many instances where the jack and other tools are missing entirely or are rusted to the point of being useless.
It is always at lease inconvenient to get a flat. But I can certainly think of times when it would be even worse. i.e. when you are already running late to work, when the kids need to be picked up from school, during a rain storm, on your way to Christmas at the folks place when its 20 below zero outside or when you are in heavy traffic. The worst cases are that you can’t get the spare out of the trunk and you have to have the car towed ($85.00). If it is necessary to drive on a flat tire not only will the tire that may have been possible to repair, will be destroyed. It is also quite possible to damage a rim to the point that it would have to be replaced. ($100-$400) So basically an ounce of prevention definately goes a long way.
If you are mechanically inclined servicing the spare tire is a relatively easy thing to do. Even if you’re not, its good practice for the event that you ever do get a flat and have to do it on the side of the road. Here is a perfect opportunity to get out the owners manual and familiarlize yourself with at least the section regarding the spare tire and tools. These steps should be in your owners manual in much more detail and often with pictures.
***One word of caution about changing a tire. Please be very careful to follow the instructions in your owners manual very carefully and be sure to be safe. Make sure the vehicle is in park and the parking brake is on. Put a block of wood or something in front of and behind one of the wheels not being removed so that the car does not roll and fall off the jack.
SPARE TIRE MAINTENANCE STEPS
First, make sure the mechanism that holds the spare in the truck or elsewhere works. Lubricate the bolt(s) or other mechanism that holds the spare in place. If you are not able to operate the mechanism(s) you may have to take it to a mechanic to have the parts serviced or replaced.
Second, remove the spare from the car
Third, check the pressure in the tire with a tire guage. If it is low take it somewhere to have it filled to the appropriate pressure (often 60 pounds per square inch)
Forth, locate and remove the jack and tools often located near the spare (see owners manual). Familiarize yourself with how the jack and tools go together and how they work. Lubricate and operate the jack up and down a few times to make sure it works properly.
Forth, put it all back in the car. There is often a diagram near the spare that shows how they go back in the car just in case you have forgotten. (I have before)
Of course there is always the other option. If you would rather not go to all that work and spend all that time doing this, likely getting dirty in the process, you can always take it to a shop and let them do it. It will only take about 15 minutes barring any broken or stuck parts. Then you can be assured that you have done everything you can to prepare for the possibility of a flat.
For other car care tips visit my website at http://www.ateamautocare.com
As always if you ever have any questions or concerns about your car please don’t hesitate to call or email me at A-Team Auto Care 319-512-2000 or firstname.lastname@example.org