We’ve all had it – that sickening feeling when you’re far away from home and you realise that one (or even more) of your car tyres is flatter than a pancake. It’s all very well if you only have one flat and you know how to change tyres, but if you don’t, then you can be in quite a difficult situation. Even more so if you’re on your way to an important meeting or something equally pressing. So yes, it’s stressful, but it can be a whole lot less so if you know the steps to take to deal with the problem. Here’s what to do to ensure you’re prepared:
Check Spare Tyre: You can’t ever entirely guard against a flat tyre when there are so many hazards on the road, but making sure your spare tyre is fully inflated and within the legal limits is a good way to keep yourself safer if this does happen. Check your spare tyre regularly or get an expert to do it if you’re unsure what to look for. Also, you should familiarize yourself with the workings of the car in case there’s anything specific you need to let a mobile tyre fitter or other roadside assistance firm know about (or indeed if you are planning to change the tyre yourself).
Ensure Your Personal Safety: If you do get a blow-out, pull over to the side of the road as soon as is possible (ideally in a lay-by or other safe place). Don’t stay in the car if you’ve had to stop right next to the road as you could be hit by another car. Instead, get out and move to a safe place far away from the road where you can still be seen. Make sure you turn on your hazard lights immediately.
Call Friends/Family: It’s a good idea, once you’ve got yourself into a safe position, to call either a friend or a member of your family to let the know what’s happened and where you are. If you’re on your way to an important meeting or something you should also take this opportunity to call and let them know you will be late, and to re-schedule. The reason you should do this now is twofold: if someone knows where you are it gives you more security; and the whole situation will be less stressful for you if you aren’t worrying about being late and letting people down (after all, everyone gets flat tyres so they can’t realistically be annoyed with you).
Call For Help: If you are not planning to change the tyre yourself, then now is the time to call for assistance. If you have breakdown cover, then you can use this and they should be with you as soon as possible. Bear in mind though that you will have to go through a call centre. Another option is to call a mobile tyre fitter in the local area so make sure you keep a list of numbers to try in your handbag or wallet. The good thing about using a specialist mobile tyre service is that they can be with you quickly because they are usually based locally, will stock a wide range of tyres and maybe even be able to repair the damage rather than having to sell you a new one (much easier on your bank balance). When it comes to payment, most companies will bill you afterwards, so don’t fret if you don’t have enough money on you.
Changing The Tyre: If you’re not planning to take the above step, then you will need to know how to change the tyre yourself. As mentioned above, you should have already familiarised yourself with the specific procedures for your car. Also, make sure that the hand-brake is on properly! When you’re loosening and tightening the nuts, a good tip is to make sure that you arrange the wrench so that you are pressing down. This means your body weight is working with you and it reduces the risk of injury or strain.