- Image by Afroswede via Flickr
Many people would say mechanics is a man’s job and, in the past, that may have been true.
But, today, it’s very far from the truth and working as a mechanic for the last few years I’ve often noticed how keen a lot of woman are when it comes to general mechanics.
The average guy would want to know two things—how much it would cost him and how long it would take to fix!
Yet, women always seemed to be more interested in how things worked and how they could fix problems themselves.
So, here is the first installment of what I plan to be a weekly series: Basic Mechanics for the Modern Mom.
How Do I Change My Own Tire?
If like me you’ve spent a day at the side of a road with a flat tire and screaming children you’ll know how irritating it is and it’s an easily avoided situation.
The question I hear most is “How do I change my own tire?”
Unless you have storage space in the back of your car for large machinery, then changing your “tire” will be a very difficult task. It’s very important that changing a tire is done correctly and for this reason it should only be done by professionals.
What you can do, is change your own wheel&mdsah;and its a very simple procedure. For that reason, make sure your spare wheel is wearing a healthy new tire.
First of all, always keep the basic tools in the back of your car “Just In Case”.
- 1 Car Jack
- Wheel-Nut Wrench
- Wheel-Nut Wrench Extension Bar
- Floor mat
- Spare Wheel
- Wheel-Nut Connector (if fitted)
Standard Car Jack
Most new cars come with a standard car jack and are usually stored in the boot/trunk.
The Electric Jack
In the past jacking up a car has been hard work but thanks to advance gadgets like the electric jack, anyone can do it!
The Electric Jack is also great for storage reasons as it folds nicely into a carry case, a good electric jack can be bought for around $75.
If you have a new car, then you should have been provided with a suitable wrench. Don’t worry if you haven’t, as they’re not very expensive.
Before buying, it’s important to check your vehicle specifications!
Check the specifications to find out what size wheel-nuts are on your car to ensure you buy the right size wrench!
The size of your cars wheel nuts can be found manually or you could simply log onto a car specifications website to find out.
The extension bar fits over the the wrench and provides more leverage, making it easier to loosen the wheel nuts.
Not an essential! But if you’re planning on kneeling down at the side of a road, a floor mat might be a good idea!
All New Cars have a spare wheel. If you don’t have one, that’s fine. You’ll be able to get a good deal when purchasing a wheel and tire together.
It’s important that the tire on your spare wheel is healthy, so if yours is looking ill, take it to be replaced.
(Where will my spare be? A spare wheel could be in the trunk or in a carrier under the vehicle. It could also be on your back hatch.)
It’s Likely that your wheel might have pull ties holding wheel trims into place, for this reason you will need a pair of cutters.
Some Wheel-Nuts specifically on new cars and cars with alloy wheels have what is known as a “Locking Nut”. You can undo these nuts by attaching the connector to your wrench.
Should locking nuts be fitted on your vehicle, you should find the connector inside.
It’s likely that your hands will get very dirty, so it’s a good ideas to keep a pair of gloves.
Changing the wheel:
First steps, turn off the engine and ensure the handbrake is on. Next, put the car into park and engage the hazards.
Set your tools up, and place your spare wheel in a convenient spot.
Before jacking your car up, you may want to break (loosen) the nuts, loosening the nuts while the wheel is in the air will be more difficult and will result in a spinning wheel.
So using your wrench (and extension bar, if needed) remove the tension from each nut whilst the car is on the ground.
A lot of new cars (specifically those with alloy wheels) come with a “locking nut.”
A locking nut is a security nut that must be removed with a connection piece.
The jack should be placed under the “frame” of the car, nearest to the wheel being changed, (details on where to jack your car can be found in the vehicle handbook). It’s important to jack your car in the right position to avoid damaging the vehicle or putting yourself in danger.
How the jack works will depend on the instructions of your particular jack, so find out how yours works, and then raise the car from the ground.
Raise the car enough so there is room to comfortably change the wheel.
Next, (providing you have one) remove the locking nut, your key for this should have been given to you when you purchased the car or may be in one the car’s inside compartments.
Once you have removed the locking nut, remove the other 3 wheel nuts.
Now, you can replace the wheel.
Once the wheel has been replaced, put the nuts back into place and tighten them up.
Then, you can lower your jack!
Once you have put the old wheel and jack away safely, return to tightening the nuts and ensure they are as tight as possible, tightening the wheel a second time once the car is back on the ground is essential and a lot more effective.
Finally, put your tools away and clear up anything you have used!
The first installment of Fix-It Fridays is a guest post by Ant Bradshaw. Ant is working for saveonnewcarss.co.uk who offer fantastic new car deals. Check back for more car care tips as this guest post series continues.