What about that flat incurred in the Pony Hills? During my working years I spent well over a decade as a professional Samaritan helping people out of all types of roadside dilemmas. During that time I encountered literally hundreds of people with flat tires along urban limited access highways who didn’t have a clue of what they should do to change the tire. Admittedly I’m old and most of this time was at the very beginning of the evolution of cell phones, as a matter of fact, my Samaritan van was one of very few vehicles which was equipped with that type of communication. Even the patrolling authorities would ask if they could use my phone to call home when we were working on a major incident and they were going to be late.
Anyway, a flat tire along a heavily traveled roadway can be a life threatening situation. Knowing what to do and how to act, especially in a situation where communication is not possible is a critical skill.
First, as soon as you know what’s happening, put your right turn signal on and gradually slow down as you position your vehicle as far to the right as possible. If the flat is on the driver’s side it’s best to get as far off the travel area as you can.
A good thing to do right now (I mean this minute-not when you have a flat!) would be to grab the owner’s manual from your car and look up “Tire Changing”. That way the stuff we’ll be talking about next will be easier to relate to your particular vehicle.
Assuming you are out of the travel way – that is critical – shut your motor off, assure vehicle is in park, or low gear (1st or reverse) if a standard. Turn on your emergency flashers. Get any passengers out and as far from roadway as possible. Then block the wheel that is diagonally opposite from the flat. If flat is passenger side front, block tire on driver’s side rear, etc. If you don’t have chock blocks like these large rocks or pieces of wood work as well. This is important to assure the car doesn’t move while you’re working causing damage to it or you! I always recommend you practice this in your driveway with the whole family so everybody can see how it’s done.
As you work, try to stay conscious of traffic as things can change very rapidly at highway speeds.
Collect your tools (jack, lug wrench, lock lug and spare tire) and have every thing within easy reach.
While the car is still on the ground loosen the lugnuts just a bit so once the tire is off the ground you won’t rotate it by having really tight lug nuts to break free. The only exception would be the lock nut which is security feature on most newer cars to keep tires from being stolen. This can be completely loosened to a “finger” tight degree so you can remove it by hand when the car is jacked up.
Go ahead and jack the car up as instructed in the owner’s manual (a very good reason to have practiced this in your driveway!)
Jack the car high enough that the flat comes off and the spare goes on easily. You can use you lug wrench as a lever to help position the spare. Tighten the lugs as snugly as you can with the tire off the ground, then lower the jack so the spare is making firm contact with the ground, then tighten the lugs as firmly as you can. Lower the jack all the way and try to tighten each lug nut one more time – give it your best-you wouldn’t want them to loosen while driving!
Collect and replace your tools, unblock the wheel, get everybody back in and head on. One more critical point-get that tire fixed as soon as possible. As a little incentive, think about what might have happened if your spare was flat in the situation you just survived.