Tire flat fixing for beginners

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psteinx
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Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by psteinx »

[Update - ~3 weeks after posting this thread, my son (middle child - not the 16 y.o. referenced below) had a flat and WAS able to change the tire without too much difficulty. See this post for details. Thanks all for the advice, comments, etc.]

One of my kids recently turned 16. The other 2 are slightly older. A few years back, I tried to teach the older kids how to replace a flat tire, and I plan to teach the youngest/reteach the oldest.

All of the vehicles we drive are relatively new. All have spares. For the most part, we're not driving through THAT bad of roads (i.e. likely to cause flats), though at least one of the kids will encounter some rough roads. To my recollection, in my life, I've done one roadside tire change far from home, and 2 others at home(s), for slower leaks/non-emergencies. So, my guess is that these days knowing how to change a tire is useful, but probably not critical. We have emergency roadside service on all vehicles.

So, the problem(s) is:

1) The general process of changing a tire requires some brute mucking about, is dirty, and, if done at roadside on a busy road, arguably dangerous. 2 of my 3 kids are girls, neither especially strong.

2) The one time I tried to teach the older kids to change a tire, after endlessly rotating the cheap jack (and scraping knuckles) to get the tire lifted, the lug nuts were overtightened (probably from the last shop that had serviced them), and I could only get them all off with the help of some extender or something I found laying around the house (i.e. would not have been in the car, for an emergency). *Maybe* with more effort I could have made it work with just the basic change kit, but it woulda been that much harder for the girls.

So, possibilities:
1) Don't bother pushing this skill, and encourage them to call roadside services
2) Teach the skill as is
2b - find an extender part/tool for loosening lug nuts and put it with all the changer kits in each vehicle
3) Get a can of FixAFlat or similar for each vehicle.
But, on quick read:
A) FixAFlat itself can damage tires (i.e. a small leak that would be otherwise patchable may not be if FaF used)
B) Doesn't last/hold very long
C) I have some concerns about how long a can of this stuff would be good, if left sitting in a car for 5+ years. In particular, I don't love compressed air cans in an environment that can hit 120 degrees in the summer, and well below freezing in the winter.
D) Are these cans bulky? Is there typically room to stow them in the spare tire wheel well? Glovebox space is at a premium
E) Is FixAFlat easy to use (for a teen/young driver who saw their dad talk about it/demonstrate it once, years before), and reasonably (80%+) reliable?
Last edited by psteinx on Tue Jul 06, 2021 4:55 pm, edited 3 times in total.
adamthesmythe
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by adamthesmythe »

Rough roads have nothing to do with it. I have had the occasional flat, always on ordinary roads.

A portable air compressor can sometimes fill a tire enough to drive for a bit if the puncture has caused a slow leak.

The ability to judge the degree of hazard when trying to repair a tire is important.

I drive with a breaker bar in the car, as I know lug nuts can be overtightened. Also I know where the anti-theft socket is stored.
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Devil's Advocate
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by Devil's Advocate »

What about run flat tires?

DA
killjoy2012
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by killjoy2012 »

Fix-a-Flat or it's competitors should really only be used as a last option. IMO, the tire is garbage after using it... and the only purpose of using it is to get you off the street to the local tire shop. It won't hold permanently, it makes a mess of the inside of tire, balance will be off, etc.

I would teach your kids the skill of changing a tire, and you can always have them call AAA as the first option if something were to occur, or the car had a blow out in a bad location (e.g. side of the freeway with the blown out tire on the traffic side). At least they'll know how to do it if they're stranded somewhere outside of cell or AAA coverage areas.
squirm
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by squirm »

Just teach them how to do it. Do a couple practice runs at home. Just make sure to teach them where it's safe to change a tire. I've done it a few times in my life and when it happens it's really convenient. Although there's no way I would want my wife changing a tire. I've told her to either call me or the tow service.
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JoMoney
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by JoMoney »

My current car didn't come with a spare, just the manufacturers version of a fix-a-flat kit (an air compressor with cartridge rather than can).
The flat tire I got damaged the side-wall, which fix-a-flat is useless for :?
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BogleTaxPro
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by BogleTaxPro »

In my experience:
1. Don't use FixAFlat...for all the reasons you mentioned.
2. If your kids are going to drive in areas where emergency service may be sparse or non-existent, then by all means at least teach them the basics.
I was taught by my dad when I was a teen how to change a tire. I'm glad I know how, even though I've never needed to do it myself. But you're right, using a jack safely...and getting stuck lug nuts off...may be big obstacles.
3. If they're going to have to call roadside service anyway...get off the freeway. People are afraid you'll damage the rims, but they're stronger than you think. I blew a tire at 65 in the fast lane of the freeway...managed to get all the way off the freeway...found a safe place on a side road to park in the shade...and waited in comfort. No rim damage, and both the service guy and I were safely away from traffic.
pshonore
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by pshonore »

I've always liked this style of lug wrench
https://www.amazon.com/CARTMAN-Heavy-Un ... B01AUGNT24
at least you can get leverage unlike the single nut angled wrenches that come with most cars.
Nver2Late
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by Nver2Late »

psteinx wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:24 am
2b - find an extender part/tool for loosening lug nuts and put it with all the changer kits in each vehicle
Back in my HS/college days, I drove an old beater Ford LTD. That car was a tank and I drove it into the ground. However, at the scrap yard, I pulled out and kept the hi-lift style jack and the lug wrench/jack handle. Since the lug wrench was also used as the hi-lift jack handle, it has significantly added length. So this lug wrench has been and is still kept in my children's vehicles and works great on overtightened lug nuts. Key is not to use it for the reinstall, stick to the manufacturer's lug wrench to avoid overtightening. Might check a junk yard.
squirm
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by squirm »

BogleTaxPro wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:37 am In my experience:
1. Don't use FixAFlat...for all the reasons you mentioned.
2. If your kids are going to drive in areas where emergency service may be sparse or non-existent, then by all means at least teach them the basics.
I was taught by my dad when I was a teen how to change a tire. I'm glad I know how, even though I've never needed to do it myself. But you're right, using a jack safely...and getting stuck lug nuts off...may be big obstacles.
3. If they're going to have to call roadside service anyway...get off the freeway. People are afraid you'll damage the rims, but they're stronger than you think. I blew a tire at 65 in the fast lane of the freeway...managed to get all the way off the freeway...found a safe place on a side road to park in the shade...and waited in comfort. No rim damage, and both the service guy and I were safely away from traffic.
Definitely. I've told our kids damaged rim or not, I don't care, just get off the freeway.
sport
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by sport »

One thing that will make changing a tire a little easier is to get a 4-way (X-shaped) lug wrench. This type of wrench will let you pull up on one side while pushing down on the other side. This works much better than the jack-handle wrench that comes with cars. I keep one in each car. Here is one that is available: https://www.amazon.com/CARTMAN-Heavy-Un ... =174057011
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iceport
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by iceport »

psteinx wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:24 am To my recollection, in my life, I've done one roadside tire change far from home, and 2 others close at near home(s), for slower leaks/non-emergencies. So, my guess is that these days knowing how to change a tire is useful, but probably not critical. We have emergency roadside service on all vehicles.

So, possibilities:
1) Don't bother pushing this skill, and encourage them to call roadside services
2) Teach the skill as is
I'm hesitant to pick one of these (and I don't recommend the goop that gets sprayed into a tire). On the one hand, it's best to know how to do stuff for yourself in case you are really in an emergency situation and need to rely on your own abilities.

On the other hand, there are some hazards associated with tire changing that can be catastrophic — the biggest ones are being hit by live traffic if on the roadside, or having the car slide off the jack because either the car moves or the jack isn't supported adequately, with a body part nearby or underneath. In my humble opinion, it's hard to teach the kind of common sense mechanical ability that can be used to safeguard against these risks in an unscripted situation.

As for loosening the lug nuts, one of my tricks is to break them free while the car is still on the ground. I don't mean to loosen them, risking warping the rotors or damaging the lugs, but just to move them enough to overcome the worst of the static friction and corrosion. And since I was a relatively weak youngun', I learned to use my leg strength instead of just my arm strength for extremely frozen lug nuts. And with that method, even the relatively short lug wrenches that come with cars work OK. But the car should still be on the ground for that kind of improvising. (And I'm sure it's not recommended by the pros.)

But the primary safety issues are:

1) Adequate clearance from live traffic; and
2) Adequate support and stability for the car and jack.
"Discipline matters more than allocation.” ─William Bernstein
tibbitts
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by tibbitts »

Very few vehicles have spare tires today, but given that yours do...

The percentages of both males and females able to remove lug nuts with the historically provided tools seem to be increasing due to service providers more accurately applying torque to lug nuts, while previously they didn't, sometimes to the point of damaging the lug nuts and/or wheels and/or studs. I'm not aware of any shops overtightening lug nuts at this point. Obviously the objective is to loosen lug nuts using your feet, not your hands, which minimizes differences between the sexes. I used to always loosen them when I'd get a car back from service, and retighten, although in theory that uses up one of the lifetime cycles for the fasteners. Now It's been a long time since I found the fasteners not torqued correctly, or very close (as close or closer than I could get them.)

Knowing whether it's safe for various reasons to change a tire is a judgement call. Since in your case everyone has road service there's no reason not to call for assistance under most circumstances. You could add the flat-fix but as with a tool, you have to figure out how to safely store it in the car, and that may not be easy. You don't want it to turn into a projectile in the event of an accident. I'm guessing lifetime might depend on heat more than cold. But using that would be my last resort.
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by CardinalRule »

psteinx wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:24 am One of my kids recently turned 16. The other 2 are slightly older. A few years back, I tried to teach the older kids how to replace a flat tire, and I plan to teach the youngest/reteach the oldest.

All of the vehicles we drive are relatively new. All have spares. For the most part, we're not driving through THAT bad of roads (i.e. likely to cause flats), though at least one of the kids will encounter some rough roads. To my recollection, in my life, I've done one roadside tire change far from home, and 2 others at home(s), for slower leaks/non-emergencies. So, my guess is that these days knowing how to change a tire is useful, but probably not critical. We have emergency roadside service on all vehicles.

So, the problem(s) is:

1) The general process of changing a tire requires some brute mucking about, is dirty, and, if done at roadside on a busy road, arguably dangerous. 2 of my 3 kids are girls, neither especially strong.

2) The one time I tried to teach the older kids to change a tire, after endlessly rotating the cheap jack (and scraping knuckles) to get the tire lifted, the lug nuts were overtightened (probably from the last shop that had serviced them), and I could only get them all off with the help of some extender or something I found laying around the house (i.e. would not have been in the car, for an emergency). *Maybe* with more effort I could have made it work with just the basic change kit, but it woulda been that much harder for the girls.

So, possibilities:
1) Don't bother pushing this skill, and encourage them to call roadside services
That would probably be my choice, unless your girls will be driving in areas with no cellular service. It really can be dangerous on some roads. And if you have a spare available the roadside assistance an usually take care of that quickly.

Not a fan of the fix-a-flat cans for reasons noted.
MDfan
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by MDfan »

#1 for me. Unless they are in what they know to be a very safe neighborhood, I always tell my kids to stay in the car and call for service. I don't care what it costs me. I had a very good friend whose son was killed by a drunk driver after getting out of his car to check his engine on the side of a heavily traveled road. I'll gladly pay for this service.
Luckywon
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by Luckywon »

psteinx wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:24 am
2) The one time I tried to teach the older kids to change a tire, after endlessly rotating the cheap jack (and scraping knuckles) to get the tire lifted, the lug nuts were overtightened (probably from the last shop that had serviced them), and I could only get them all off with the help of some extender or something I found laying around the house (i.e. would not have been in the car, for an emergency). *Maybe* with more effort I could have made it work with just the basic change kit, but it woulda been that much harder for the girls.

So, possibilities:
1) Don't bother pushing this skill, and encourage them to call roadside services
2) Teach the skill as is
2b - find an extender part/tool for loosening lug nuts and put it with all the changer kits in each vehicle
3) Get a can of FixAFlat or similar for each vehicle.
Propose:

2c) Try to check the lug nuts in their cars upon purchase or whenever a tire is replaced/rotated so they are not overtightened. (Good excuse for Dad to visit too 😁).
Last edited by Luckywon on Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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jabberwockOG
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by jabberwockOG »

Kids should be taught to first assess the situation when they have a flat or any kind of breakdown so that maximize their safety. I view changing a flat tire myself as a last resort. It is a skill that takes some knowledge, strength and practice to correctly and safely perform. It can be very dangerous if performed incorrectly or with inadequate tools.

Primary attention should first be getting away from a potentially dangerous location, by either driving or on foot. Then calling for assistance and making sure someone knows your status and plan. Sad to say but making the correct situational assessment, making the proper calls, and getting to a safe place seem to be more critical as the world seems to get more dangerous over time.

For us part of each car's emergency kit (in a backpack) is a harbor freight sourced 18 inch 1/2 inch breaker bar and socket that matches lug nut size. Cost for the bar and socket is apprx $20 bought (with coupon). Also included is first aid kit, blankets, a tire plugging kit, small 12v air compressor, gloves, ground cloth, safety reflective triangles, flashlight/beacon, etc. - all items I view as mandatory before considering doing any kind of diy roadside repair.

https://www.harborfreight.com/12-in-dri ... 60818.html
Afty
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by Afty »

I agree that the failure modes are catastrophic, and it seems difficult for someone to remember a skill that they may use once or twice in their life. I lean toward just telling them to call AAA.
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by dbr »

pshonore wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:40 am I've always liked this style of lug wrench
https://www.amazon.com/CARTMAN-Heavy-Un ... B01AUGNT24
at least you can get leverage unlike the single nut angled wrenches that come with most cars.
Amen. Years ago I started a habit if carrying such a wrench in every car always.
Luckywon
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by Luckywon »

Afty wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:08 am I agree that the failure modes are catastrophic, and it seems difficult for someone to remember a skill that they may use once or twice in their life. I lean toward just telling them to call AAA.
I agree but maybe worth noting that these days one can pull up YouTube for a refresher when needed.
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iceport
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by iceport »

tibbitts wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:53 am I used to always loosen them when I'd get a car back from service, and retighten, although in theory that uses up one of the lifetime cycles for the fasteners.
Same here. An independent mechanic I spoke with quite a while ago said he worked for a short time at the old Saab test tracks down south (GA, I think?) In his experience there, rotors warped primarily from over-torqued or unevenly torqued lug nuts, not overheating.

Ever since then I've paid very close attention to lug nut torque. And if I ever start to feel a shimmy with light braking from rotor warp, I usually find an issue with lug nut torque, and re-torquing them before they get super-heated by real hard braking can usually stop or minimize the effect.
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sport
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by sport »

Costco tire service uses a torque wrench to make sure lug nuts are tightened properly. I have never seen that done anywhere else.
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by whodidntante »

When I allow a shop to do a service that requires wheel removal, I torque the lug nuts to factory specs when I get the vehicle home. I asked one shop to torque the lug nuts by hand and they left the lug nuts too loose, so I no longer bring it up to shops. It takes less than 2 minutes per wheel. I simply slightly loosen each lug nut using a breaker bar then I torque each lug nut to spec, and then I retorque after driving the vehicle for a couple of weeks.

Also, it's standard practice to slightly loosen the lug nuts with the wheel still on the ground. Then lift the car and finish the process of removing the wheel. I could not tell if you knew that or not from your description.
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iceport
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by iceport »

whodidntante wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:22 am ...then I retorque after driving the vehicle for a couple of weeks.
:thumbsup :thumbsup

(A couple of days is fine if you drive enough — 100 miles is plenty.)
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fire5soon
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by fire5soon »

Keep in mind I'm a car guy, so my answer may be a bit biased... This is a skill anyone who drives should have period. You can't always count on AAA or anyone else to change a tire for you. If strength is an issue then keep a breaker bar in the trunk. Have your kids practice so that the first time they change a tire isn't when they have to on the side of the road. I'm the independent type, so I always try to make sure not only me, but the ones I care about also, can handle themselves if needed.

In addition to the spare tire/jack, I'd carry the following at a minimum:
- socket for lug nuts (including special sockets for security lugs)
- breaker bar for leverage
- portable air compressor w/ guage
- tire repair kit (this has saved me in the past)

I've had to do several roadside repairs in the past ranging from a flat tire to replacing a fuel pump. It's always important to have the right tools and don't count on your cell phone to always save you.

Good luck!
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by bob60014 »

Other than being safely off the road and having a proper lug wrench, the #1 rule is to be sure the car is on level and stable ground before jacking it up!
Last edited by bob60014 on Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:36 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by BolderBoy »

adamthesmythe wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:29 amA portable air compressor can sometimes fill a tire enough to drive for a bit if the puncture has caused a slow leak.
+1. This has worked every time I've used it - not for my own vehicle but to help others who were caught short. Good quality 12v compressor cost me $125 and goes with me everywhere I go.
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by dbr »

I do know that the shop I use asks to bring the car back to be retorqued after 100 miles or so when having tires rotated. I have watched them do it and know they really do it by hand with a torque wrench and don't just crank everything down with an impact wrench. The shop is around the corner and I don't have a torque wrench.

I think anyone should understand how to change a tire but might also be encouraged to call road service for help. My wife would certainly be physically incapable of changing a tire by herself. The kids could handle it. One of my kids sometime drives where road service is not a thing. I am trusting he knows how to get out of trouble.

I would also say understanding how to jack up the car safely is a bigger issue than how to remove and replace the tire.
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by Gort »

sport wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:48 am One thing that will make changing a tire a little easier is to get a 4-way (X-shaped) lug wrench. This type of wrench will let you pull up on one side while pushing down on the other side. This works much better than the jack-handle wrench that comes with cars. I keep one in each car. Here is one that is available: https://www.amazon.com/CARTMAN-Heavy-Un ... =174057011
^^^^^^THIS^^^^^^^

Also, get a strong piece of flat wood that you can put on the ground and then put the jack on top of the wood. Not always necessary but helps a lot if you are in soft soil where the jack might sink into the ground.
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by tibbitts »

sport wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:21 am Costco tire service uses a torque wrench to make sure lug nuts are tightened properly. I have never seen that done anywhere else.
All the service facilities I've used in the last decade all some kind of torque wrench. Walmart always seems to use a torque wrench and also have a second tech verify the torque that the first tech applied.

I've forgotten to torque lug nuts myself, but as long as they nuts are on just not tight, the wheel vibrates in a pretty obvious way before it comes anywhere close to falling off, so insufficient torque is not likely to go unnoticed the way excessive torque used to.
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by tibbitts »

Gort wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:35 am
sport wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:48 am One thing that will make changing a tire a little easier is to get a 4-way (X-shaped) lug wrench. This type of wrench will let you pull up on one side while pushing down on the other side. This works much better than the jack-handle wrench that comes with cars. I keep one in each car. Here is one that is available: https://www.amazon.com/CARTMAN-Heavy-Un ... =174057011
^^^^^^THIS^^^^^^^

Also, get a strong piece of flat wood that you can put on the ground and then put the jack on top of the wood. Not always necessary but helps a lot if you are in soft soil where the jack might sink into the ground.
Although it may seem odd coming from someone who used to carry not just an extra tire changing too and jack, but spare belts, hoses, carburetor parts, ignition module, plus all the tools needed to install them, you're heading down a slippery slope of filling your car with "stuff." Cars today are smaller and you have to be careful to pack everything away where it won't come loose in a collision.
livesoft
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by livesoft »

I have seen teenagers figure out how to change a flat and then change it. They whipped out their phones, brought up the YouTube videos right there on the roadside and did the deed. I also know that my son broke a jack while trying to change a tire.
Last edited by livesoft on Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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vfinx
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by vfinx »

A set of instructions would be good to have, in big font, especially for the safety aspects, which are hard to remember in a high stress situation. I always forget to chock the wheels, even in a low stress situation at home, doing tire rotations. Can't imagine I would have the presence of mind to do that in a flat tire situation.
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by Broken Man 1999 »

In my area (Tampa Bay) unless you have lots of time on your hands, you will use an Interstate route. There are lots of stretches where changing a tire would really entail a risk of being hit, given the narrow emergency lanes. Sometimes emergency lanes are non-existent, especially during road construction, which is pretty continuous around here.

As others have noted, get off the freeway even if you have called for assistance. Who cares about a rim? Rims are cheap.

With DW and DDs, we had AAA. DDs are now adults, they pay for their roadside service, if they have it, which I'm sure they do.

I had no interest in teaching them how to change a tire, DDs are slight, not sure they could have broke the lug nuts free. And, there was never a chance DW could have changed a tire on our full size vans.

Outsourcing works for us. I'd like to keep our streak of three decades+ of not changing a tire intact. :D

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Jeepergeo
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by Jeepergeo »

Teaching the skill is still valuable, as is having a roadside assistance plan like AAA.

While AAA is good, I had a situation where they were over three hours out. Would you want your daughter on the side of the road for three hours? Or worse, accepting help from someone that might not be such a "good Samaritan"?

The run flat tires are another, but limited, option.
Last edited by Jeepergeo on Sun Jun 13, 2021 2:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
illumination
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by illumination »

Teach them, it's like a few hours out of their life and the more skills, the better. I will concede in this age, its a skill that's far less important than it once was. Tires are way more robust and hard to truly find yourself stranded in the age of cell phones and Uber.

I enjoy wrenching on cars and have changed numerous tires, but I have never had to change a flat on the side of the road because I was stranded. But I like knowing I could.

AAA is an option, but truthfully, I don't think it's all that useful anymore.


psteinx wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:24 am
2) The one time I tried to teach the older kids to change a tire, after endlessly rotating the cheap jack (and scraping knuckles) to get the tire lifted, the lug nuts were overtightened (probably from the last shop that had serviced them), and I could only get them all off with the help of some extender or something I found laying around the house (i.e. would not have been in the car, for an emergency). *Maybe* with more effort I could have made it work with just the basic change kit, but it woulda been that much harder for the girls.
You really should loosen the lugs just a bit while its on the ground (like a quarter turn) then jack up. Much easier to have the vehicle weight on the wheels, otherwise the wheel spins. If you have an impact gun, it's not an issue.
adamthesmythe
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by adamthesmythe »

Gort wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:35 am
sport wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:48 am One thing that will make changing a tire a little easier is to get a 4-way (X-shaped) lug wrench. This type of wrench will let you pull up on one side while pushing down on the other side. This works much better than the jack-handle wrench that comes with cars. I keep one in each car. Here is one that is available: https://www.amazon.com/CARTMAN-Heavy-Un ... =174057011
^^^^^^THIS^^^^^^^

Also, get a strong piece of flat wood that you can put on the ground and then put the jack on top of the wood. Not always necessary but helps a lot if you are in soft soil where the jack might sink into the ground.
I suppose we could have a debate about this...but...I prefer the breaker bar

- the lever arm is more than double providing more torque

- takes up less space in the car

But in any case both are superior to what is supplied with the car.
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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by Doom&Gloom »

When I was in HS changing a tire was a requirement to pass Driver's Ed. Apparently this is no longer the case.

We had both of our kids change a tire in the driveway when they got their DL. However, I doubt either one could do it now without checking YouTube on their phones as the make/models of their cars have changed and they have not done it since. We also gave them AAA cards and told them to use them as their first option. I hope they have continued to do that in adulthood.

We placed far more emphasis on proper tire maintenance and replacement.

I have not had a flat since I changed one on an interstate highway 30 years ago and vowed that I would never change a tire again. DW has had only one flat in the past couple of decades--AAA handled it.
tibbitts
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by tibbitts »

adamthesmythe wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 12:16 pm
Gort wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:35 am
sport wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:48 am One thing that will make changing a tire a little easier is to get a 4-way (X-shaped) lug wrench. This type of wrench will let you pull up on one side while pushing down on the other side. This works much better than the jack-handle wrench that comes with cars. I keep one in each car. Here is one that is available: https://www.amazon.com/CARTMAN-Heavy-Un ... =174057011
^^^^^^THIS^^^^^^^

Also, get a strong piece of flat wood that you can put on the ground and then put the jack on top of the wood. Not always necessary but helps a lot if you are in soft soil where the jack might sink into the ground.
I suppose we could have a debate about this...but...I prefer the breaker bar

- the lever arm is more than double providing more torque

- takes up less space in the car

But in any case both are superior to what is supplied with the car.
Since you're pushing on the wrench with your feet and not your hands, the cross-type wrench adds relatively little value - I don't see how you can push on two portions of the X at one time.
muddgirl
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by muddgirl »

Car manuals have instructions for changing flat tires so demonstrating it by following the manual was good enough for me to be comfortable when my dad showed me as a kid. I have AAA but it's faster to do to myself then wait for AAA to show up.
hudson
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by hudson »

psteinx wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:24 am One of my kids recently turned 16. The other 2 are slightly older. A few years back, I tried to teach the older kids how to replace a flat tire, and I plan to teach the youngest/reteach the oldest.

All of the vehicles we drive are relatively new. All have spares. For the most part, we're not driving through THAT bad of roads (i.e. likely to cause flats), though at least one of the kids will encounter some rough roads. To my recollection, in my life, I've done one roadside tire change far from home, and 2 others at home(s), for slower leaks/non-emergencies. So, my guess is that these days knowing how to change a tire is useful, but probably not critical. We have emergency roadside service on all vehicles.

So, the problem(s) is:

1) The general process of changing a tire requires some brute mucking about, is dirty, and, if done at roadside on a busy road, arguably dangerous. 2 of my 3 kids are girls, neither especially strong.

2) The one time I tried to teach the older kids to change a tire, after endlessly rotating the cheap jack (and scraping knuckles) to get the tire lifted, the lug nuts were overtightened (probably from the last shop that had serviced them), and I could only get them all off with the help of some extender or something I found laying around the house (i.e. would not have been in the car, for an emergency). *Maybe* with more effort I could have made it work with just the basic change kit, but it woulda been that much harder for the girls.

So, possibilities:
1) Don't bother pushing this skill, and encourage them to call roadside services
2) Teach the skill as is
2b - find an extender part/tool for loosening lug nuts and put it with all the changer kits in each vehicle
3) Get a can of FixAFlat or similar for each vehicle.
But, on quick read:
A) FixAFlat itself can damage tires (i.e. a small leak that would be otherwise patchable may not be if FaF used)
B) Doesn't last/hold very long
C) I have some concerns about how long a can of this stuff would be good, if left sitting in a car for 5+ years. In particular, I don't love compressed air cans in an environment that can hit 120 degrees in the summer, and well below freezing in the winter.
D) Are these cans bulky? Is there typically room to stow them in the spare tire wheel well? Glovebox space is at a premium
E) Is FixAFlat easy to use (for a teen/young driver who saw their dad talk about it/demonstrate it once, years before), and reasonably (80%+) reliable?
Should you teach the skill? Yes. I'd make it optional or offer an incentive. I'd teach safety strategies. I would have a quality air pump, tire gauge, and an extender bar like this in every car. https://www.amazon.com/Gorilla-Automoti ... =174057011 I'd also have a 16 inch square board to put under the jack if needed.

FixaFlat? sure...for last resort. I'd rather go with a pump

When I was teaching my granddaughter, I learned that the jack wouldn't lift the car high enough. We had to add a block of wood underneath the jack. I replaced that toy jack with a real jack. Blocks of wood are still in the vehicle. Here's the air pump for my granddaughter's car: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07MK ... UTF8&psc=1. I also showed her how to stand on the breaker bar in case the lug nuts were over tightened.
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by tibbitts »

Incidentally I'm confused about "teaching" changing a tire. My parents never changed a tire that I knew of. It was just always obvious to me how to do it, and as Bogleheads go, almost nothing is obvious to me. So if I could do it I assume anyone else could do it. I probably read the manual the first time, and still would for directions (sometime jack placement is non-intuitive.) So with all these Boglehead kids getting graduate degrees in physics at age twelve, I'm having a problem understanding why this is something that needs to be taught.
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by neilpilot »

tibbitts wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 12:51 pm Incidentally I'm confused about "teaching" changing a tire. My parents never changed a tire that I knew of. It was just always obvious to me how to do it, and as Bogleheads go, almost nothing is obvious to me. So if I could do it I assume anyone else could do it. I probably read the manual the first time, and still would for directions (sometime jack placement is non-intuitive.) So with all these Boglehead kids getting graduate degrees in physics at age twelve, I'm having a problem understanding why this is something that needs to be taught.
I don't think that loosening the bolts/nuts before jacking the car is intuitive. Or blocking the diagonally opposite tire.

An I don't know about others, but both of my cars have locking nuts on each wheel.

I could go on -but there are many car-specific items that I'd consider to be non-intuitive.
mpnret
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by mpnret »

Put a 1/2" x 30" piece of black steel pipe in each car. Slides right over factory lug wrenches and provides plenty of leverage to remove any stuck lug nut. Only $10.
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Southland-1 ... /100111730
mpnret
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by mpnret »

neilpilot wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 12:55 pm
tibbitts wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 12:51 pm Incidentally I'm confused about "teaching" changing a tire. My parents never changed a tire that I knew of. It was just always obvious to me how to do it, and as Bogleheads go, almost nothing is obvious to me. So if I could do it I assume anyone else could do it. I probably read the manual the first time, and still would for directions (sometime jack placement is non-intuitive.) So with all these Boglehead kids getting graduate degrees in physics at age twelve, I'm having a problem understanding why this is something that needs to be taught.
I don't think that loosening the bolts/nuts before jacking the car is intuitive. Or blocking the diagonally opposite tire.

An I don't know about others, but both of my cars have locking nuts on each wheel.

I could go on -but there are many car-specific items that I'd consider to be non-intuitive.
Locking lug nuts are a pain in the butt. In the past I would remove them and put on my extras before having my tires rotated and then put them back on later with proper torque. Now that my car is older I tossed them.
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Gort
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by Gort »

tibbitts wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:46 am
Gort wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:35 am
sport wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:48 am One thing that will make changing a tire a little easier is to get a 4-way (X-shaped) lug wrench. This type of wrench will let you pull up on one side while pushing down on the other side. This works much better than the jack-handle wrench that comes with cars. I keep one in each car. Here is one that is available: https://www.amazon.com/CARTMAN-Heavy-Un ... =174057011
^^^^^^THIS^^^^^^^

Also, get a strong piece of flat wood that you can put on the ground and then put the jack on top of the wood. Not always necessary but helps a lot if you are in soft soil where the jack might sink into the ground.
Although it may seem odd coming from someone who used to carry not just an extra tire changing too and jack, but spare belts, hoses, carburetor parts, ignition module, plus all the tools needed to install them, you're heading down a slippery slope of filling your car with "stuff." Cars today are smaller and you have to be careful to pack everything away where it won't come loose in a collision.
Good points but I've never had a problem finding a secure place (not inside the passenger compartment) to store a 6x8x1 flat piece of wood. In the trunk or in the spare wheel well area usually works well.
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by Yooper »

adamthesmythe wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 12:16 pm
Gort wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:35 am
sport wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:48 am One thing that will make changing a tire a little easier is to get a 4-way (X-shaped) lug wrench. This type of wrench will let you pull up on one side while pushing down on the other side. This works much better than the jack-handle wrench that comes with cars. I keep one in each car. Here is one that is available: https://www.amazon.com/CARTMAN-Heavy-Un ... =174057011
^^^^^^THIS^^^^^^^

Also, get a strong piece of flat wood that you can put on the ground and then put the jack on top of the wood. Not always necessary but helps a lot if you are in soft soil where the jack might sink into the ground.
I suppose we could have a debate about this...but...I prefer the breaker bar

- the lever arm is more than double providing more torque

- takes up less space in the car

But in any case both are superior to what is supplied with the car.
I'm a breaker bar guy as well. Got them at Harbor Freight for each vehicle (not sure, but I want to say 20") and they work great. Also have a set of chock blocks and piece of 2x8 wood for sand/snow/soft soil conditions.

For those people whose rims stick to the wheel (or whatever it's called) I learned a little trick from the local tire shop. Some of you may already know this, but I didn't. After removing (or loosening the lug nuts) simply take your spare and bang/slam it against the side of the stuck tire and it'll break free. My F150 is awful this way, even though I used anti-seize when I rotate the tires I usually have one that refuses to come off without a little "encouragement".
tibbitts
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by tibbitts »

neilpilot wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 12:55 pm
tibbitts wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 12:51 pm Incidentally I'm confused about "teaching" changing a tire. My parents never changed a tire that I knew of. It was just always obvious to me how to do it, and as Bogleheads go, almost nothing is obvious to me. So if I could do it I assume anyone else could do it. I probably read the manual the first time, and still would for directions (sometime jack placement is non-intuitive.) So with all these Boglehead kids getting graduate degrees in physics at age twelve, I'm having a problem understanding why this is something that needs to be taught.
I don't think that loosening the bolts/nuts before jacking the car is intuitive. Or blocking the diagonally opposite tire.

An I don't know about others, but both of my cars have locking nuts on each wheel.

I could go on -but there are many car-specific items that I'd consider to be non-intuitive.
Half the time when I change a tire today I forget to loosen the nuts before jacking, but it's extremely obvious what you have to do once the wheel turns on you. Blocking the opposite wheel might not be equally intuitive but honestly the car is pretty unlikely to go anywhere even if you don't block anything, assuming you do the jacking properly (and as I mentioned that might be something you have to read the manual for, because it's vehicle-specific.) I had locking lug nuts once, and stored the key on top of the spare tire, but agree that would be helpful for someone to know about.

But compared to everything else these genius kids are just assumed to be able to figure out, and somehow do, anything I can do with a car is trivial.
Last edited by tibbitts on Sun Jun 13, 2021 2:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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kevinf
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by kevinf »

Consider having their tires filled with Ride-On tire sealant... it's a puncture sealant that DOESN'T goop up the wheel interior. I use that for my motorcycle, you can't carry a spare there :)

Ride-On demonstration vid

Then definitely add a breaker bar (don't forget the socket!) to the trunk, they're $10-20 and an 18" breaker bar will absolutely help a petite woman loosen a lug nut. Consider replacing the stock jack with an aftermarket jack that has a larger base for more support and a 12v air compressor. I keep a little collapsible crate in my trunk that holds all of that and doesn't take up much room in my compact car.
Normchad
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Re: Tire flat fixing for beginners

Post by Normchad »

I’ve never had to change a flat tire in the road before, but have done it at home a few times.

I think it’s like long division, everybody should know how to do it, even if they will never actually do it.

Safety is always first.

I’m the only male in the house. I’ve taught my wife how to change the spare tire, and keep a breaker bar in her trunk to help her. But honestly, she is never going to do it. I don’t think she’s actually strong enough to do it. So she will call me, or roadside assistance. Or if a passerby volunteers go help, they can use the breaker bar…….

My new car didn’t come with a spare tire. I really don’t like that. And I’m conflicted on what to do about it. Like I said, I’ve never had a flat on the road. But if I do get one, man I’m gonna be angry about this……

So yes, teach the kids how to do it. Emphasize safety above all else. If you’re stuck on the highway, just leave the car and get on the other side of the guard rail, etc. don’t work on a car where it’s possible to get hit by traffic…..
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