Sisters should do it for themselves

March 19, 2013

Last week my daughters and I changed the flat tyre on my car on the way to school. We didn’t need any assistance.

And I did it in heels.

When I say that the girls helped me, I’m not being generous in that enthusiastic parenting kinda way. They actually helped, amidst much giggling. They helped loosen and unscrew the lug nuts (lug nuts!), pull off the flat, pull the doughnut (doughnut!) out of the car and lower the car with the jack.

Their teachers at school were very impressed and the girls were very proud of their greasy hands.

Many women I know are perfectly capable of changing a tyre, but I also know a few that don’t know how. The bottom line is that if you drive, you should be able to change a tyre. And jump start your battery. And a few other things.

So I thought I would do a post with some guidelines on how to change a tyre. I hope it’s useful.

1. Be prepared before you get a flat tyre
First of all, check your tyre pressure regularly. If the pressure is too low, you will damage and ruin your tyres.

Check that you have a spare and that it is in good nick. Your spare might be a ‘doughnut’ (American term) which means it is smaller than a full spare, or you might have a fifth version of what’s on your wheels now. It shouldn’t make a difference. Either will work, but make sure you have one and its functional. The last thing you want is to pull out your spare and find out it’s flat too.

Make sure you have a jack. The jack is the bit that lifts the car high enough for you to change the tyre. You might want to make sure it works. Mine was pretty darn stiff so it might need a bit of greasing. Make sure you have a handle to operate the jack. And lastly, make sure you have a spanner, or something to loosen the lug nuts. These things might be tucked away in little cubby holes in the boot. If you are ever buying a second-hand car, you should make sure these items are present.

To summarise, you need a spare tyre, a jack and jack handle and a spanner.

2. When you get a flat

You should be able to feel it when you get a flat. The car will feel uneven, like you are driving on a bumpy road. Pull over to check, but make sure to stop somewhere safe. If you are going to have to change the tyre, you’ll want somewhere flat with a bit of space.

3. Loose the nuts

So now you’ve pulled over, you’ve got everything you need and you’re ready to get started. The first thing you have to do is loosen the lug nuts, and this is important, before you raise the car. Otherwise the tyre will just spin.

To loosen the nuts, remember to turn lefty-loosey (righty-tighty). You may have to use your weight to turn the spanner. I usually do. Don’t be afraid to stand on the spanner. The kids thought this part was fun.

Loosen all of them until you can easily turn the nuts by hand. Then you can raise the car.

4. Raise the car! (I like to say it in my head like I’m saying ‘Praise The Lord!’)
When you place the jack you’ll see that there are notches under the car where the jack can be placed safely. This is always between the tyre and the middle of the car, not the tyre and the bumper.

Place the jack under the notches and using the handle, crank that sucker up. I usually turn it by hand until it reaches the underside of the car. Raise it enough that you can not only remove the flat tyre but fit the fresh one on. So a bit higher than you think you might need.

5. Remove the flat
Unscrew the nuts by hand and put them somewhere safe and close by. You wouldn’t want to lose one!

Pull the flat off. Grunt loudly while you do. It’s satisfying.

Put it in your car.

6. Put on the spare
You’ll need a little muscle to put on the spare one, but not that much. Push it in as far as you can and make sure it’s straight, not on an angle. Holding the tyre in place screw the nuts back on (aren’t you glad you kept ’em close?) as far as you can by hand.

7. Lower the car
Crank that sucker back down! If my five year old could do it, so can you! Keep going until you can pull the jack out from under the car and wind it all the way down by hand.

8. Tighten the nuts
Using the spanner, tighten the nuts as much as you can. Really. You can’t make them too tight. Check them all.

9. Put away your gear
Stand back and admire your handy work!

Now go get that flat fixed or replaced and you can always have the people at the shop check your tyre is on correctly if you are unsure.

I recommend doing a dry run for practice. The whole process should take about 20 minutes.

And one more note, don’t forget to gleefully turn down offers of help when people stop to help.

Recommended phrases include, but are not limited to: “No thanks, I got this” and “everything is under control” and “I’m kicking ass on my own, thanks!”

Now go forth and change thy own tyres!



4 Responses to “Sisters should do it for themselves”

  1. Shannon said

    Love It!!!!
    My Dad taught me to drive in Canada and before I was allowed to take my test he made me change ALL the tires on my car (put the snow tires on). I distinctly remember him sitting there watching me do it all myself and he would NOT lift a finger to help me. I truly value that experience so much!

  2. Nardia Cooper said

    I love the “I’m kicking ass on my own, thanks!” lol Great post Karin, I spent my first 3 lessons changing tyres and checking the Oil & water before I was even allowed to being bunny hopping around a quite industrial area carpark.

    I am very grateful now as it lead me onto being able to do many other things to my car like change a bulb and adjust my headlights, replace the oil & various filters and once I even changed my brake pads all by myself.
    Some people pay a mechanic a pricey sum to do simple maintenance when a bit of know how and determination is all you need.

  3. Barbara said

    Well done! All of you! the best lesson you taught your girls is that you don’t need a man (or another woman) to do everything for you. Unless you are wearing an all white (wedding?) dress, you really CAN change a tyre. Although I always struggle with undoing the nuts as the machines they use to tighten them in the shop usually makes them so tight you can’t get them off.
    Did any women stop to offer help?

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