Changing a tire

It has been my long held belief that anyone driving a car should know how to safely change a flat tire. If not physically able to do it, at least know where the jack is located and proper safety prcedures.

Years ago, I stopped to help a 20ish guy on the roadside. He had a nice, sporty car. I’m just trying to help out. His first question to me was, “do you know how to change a flat tire?” Now, his car payment was most likely more than what I paid total for my car. I asked if that was his car,“Yes”, and “you have know idea how to change a tire?” “No.” I wished him a happy life and drove away with no guilt.

Recently, an elderly couple was stuck on the shoulder of a highway with a flat on their BMW. The guy knew where the jack was and where to place it, even though he had not had this car very long. A police cruiser was providing safety while I worked. I was offered $50 for my trouble, I tried to refuse, the cop told me to take the money and clear the road. The lesson here is obvious

We have some summer seasonals at our place, and looking for stuff for them to do I let one sand and repaint the bumper on my 94 f250 as it was rustedy. He talked a good game about auto stuff but I gave a quick course to him anyway about what and how to do it. The bumper turned out fine. Unfortunately he decided the tires were rusted and went the extra mile to remove a wheel sand it and paint it. Someone must have shown him the floor jacks and impact wrench. I didn’t check in on him until the wheel was done, and at that point had to let him go. I’m thinking steel wool for the overspray on the tire as I did not manage to get time to inspect the masking job before the paint. Hearing him in the shop with the impact drill I figured after he was done I’d better torque the bolts. The first bolt was snug enough, the second I needed a breaker bar to get loose. I had one of those little ? floating around as I I finished the second wheel and realized all the lug nuts were on backwards. 48 lug nuts later, (8 bolt rims, and had to do the 2 front twice) all was good.
Is the lesson some people need professional help?

The lesson is obvious that we take too many things for granted. If you can’t or unable to change a tire, keep a AAA card handy and your owners manual. Some people are willing to sacrifice time for convenience. My feeling is that even the elderly couple showed some area of lack or responsibility by not have help brought to them…that’s the price you pay for not being able to do things yourself. It’s safer in this world not to have to rely on strangers and and put people at risk w/o tow truck assistance. Both drivers should be more responsible, including the elderly couple…sorry to be so tough. Again…an owners manual and auto insurance assistance if you’re not independent for safety.

Many years ago, right after college graduation, I discovered that a close friend of mine did not know how to change a tire. I became aware of this because he mentioned that he had suffered a flat tire while out on the road, and that a good samaritan had come to his assistance.

I asked him how long he had waited for that good samaritan, and he replied that he sat on the side of the road for about 45 minutes before anyone stopped to help him. Not wanting to have him put in this type of situation again, I immmediately offered to give my friend a lesson in how to change a tire. He politely refused, with the excuse that he did not currently have the time for that lesson.

I then offered to provide the lesson at his convenience, and again he refused. I asked–“Well, Charlie, what are you going to do the next time that you have a flat?” Charlie’s response was, “I’ll just wait for someone to come along to help me”. On that day, I lost a lot of respect for my friend.

Luckily, after a few years of inconvenient situations with his '59 Pontiac, he finally joined AAA.

The older couple had a number for 24 hour dealer service of some kind. I was just there sooner, in fact I saw them as they were pulling off the road. Even with a service card or AAA, you might wait hours, especially in bad weather, before help arrives.

50 Dollars in your favor. I had a blowout on my triumph 25 miles out of Lexington. I have always been of the philosophy do a favor and pass it on. I was paid back on a Labor day weekend, after the pad for the rim lock had been folded over when they put new tires and tubes on for the trip resulting in a blow out at 55 mph. A guy stopped, a local official that had a few favors to call upon, a tow truck hauling a trailer took us to my buds friends and wold not accept any cash or tip. What goes around comes around.

Have AAA for all my family–most times I get the call from famnily and end up changing the tire-but the family knows where the jack and spare are. They also know not to put a donut on drive axel if at all possible. My daughter was in middle of Nebraska when had flat and could not get lug nuts off-AAA came by and when she asked to have spare go on non drive axel-they left. Fortunately State trooper came by and assisted. I called AAA-they apologised-but that was all. Have AAA for piece of mind-but have had to wait too long too often to count on them.

I had a classmate in college who knew everything. He had a flat tire on the left side of his car while parked in the parking lot. He couldn’t get the lug nuts loose. I bet him $2 that I could get them loose and change the tire in less than 10 minutes. I had the spare on in under 5 minutes. What my “know-it-all” classmate didn’t realize is that some cars made in the 1940’s and 1950’s had left hand threads on the wheels on the driver’s side of the car.

I worked in a gas station back in the 70s. One time we did work on a customer’s car (work that required R&R of the tires). A few week later, on a Sunday morning, the guy calls us up swearing at us - saying we tightened the lug nuts on his car so tight that he snapped three of them trying to get the tires off.

We asked him if he knew which way to turn the lug nuts (he took that as an insult to his intelligence and got even more furious).

We finally were able to communicate that the threads were reverse (from the factory).

He called back 10 minutes later and apologized.

Agree; I once changed a tire on a big Mercury Grand Marquis for 4 well dressed women on their way to a… Women’s Liberation Action Meeting! They had no clue where the jack actually was hiding.

Having said that, I discourage my wife from changing a tire herself because of the road traffic hazards. She has a cell phone and an AAA membership. But it’s nice to know you can do it if you have to!

Doc, You Made Me Laugh And The Ellipsis Pause You Used Was Just Right. I Agree That The Danger Of Attempting A tire Change On A Busy Roadside Makes The Practice Ill-Advised In Many Cases.

Thanks for the laugh.


Changing a tire isn’t rocket science. I once had to change a tire on my mom’s 1988 Caravan when I was 12 years old. We had a blowout at about 55 MPH, mom pulled over to the side of the road. I hopped out retrieved the jack/tire iron from the back of the van, got the spare down from the undercarriage, proceeded to the change the tire, and we were back on the road in about 10-15 minutes IIRC. It never ceases to amaze me how inept many people are when it comes to their own cars. It seems that these days if it’s more involved than filling up the fuel tank, it’s beyond the comprehension of the average motorist. I mean, if you’re going to shell out $30k+ for a car or truck, don’t you think you should know something about it?

“I mean, if you’re going to shell out $30k+ for a car or truck, don’t you think you should know something about it?”

Of course, but then again, most people never seem to even read the Owner’s Manual, so that should tell you something about their intellectual curiosity regarding the complex, expensive piece of machinery that they expect to transport them safely and reliably.

Heck! There seem to be a whole lot of people who don’t even know how to spell the name of the make and model of their own car! You know–folks who ask about their Toyoto Camary, or their Suburu Impressa, or their Buick LaSabra. My personal favorite was the person who asked about a problem with his Toyota Accord!
And, then there are the folks who admit that they don’t know the model year of their vehicle, despite the fact that this bit of information is prominently displayed on their vehicle registration.

Unfortunately, we are living in an age when people probably give more thought to what color to paint their kitchen than they do to automotive issues where ignorance could cost them many thousands of dollars.
Go figure!

I thought it was the Honda Camry

There are plenty of places in this country from where you can’t call AAA without a satellite phone.

Q: How many University of Virginia males does it take to change a flat tire?

A: Four. Three to fix martini’s and one to call dad on the cell phone.