The savvy driver knows how to change a flat tire, and as long as the spare is sitting conveniently in the trunk, the average road trip or trek across town can be a relatively safe one. Hail storm season and hurricanes change everything. From blocked traffic to slick roads, getting stuck with a flat tire during one of these can be a bit of a challenge.
Hail storms can cause significant damage to your vehicle’s exterior and windows, but when you need to be out in the middle of it to pull out and install the spare tire, a few extra steps for safety-and efficient tire changing-are required. Here’s a brief guide to changing a flat tire during a hail storm:
Supplies you’ll need: umbrella, flashlight, basic car repair kit, wrench, spare tire, car jack, focus and concentration, a steady hand, a small cup (to hold bolts and screws), plastic
1. Light some flares around the car. Be sure to stock up on heavy-duty versions that won’t fizzle out easily. Better yet, pick up some specialty lights used as warning signals. You’ll need to light these before you step out of the car-unless you’ve got some form of waterproof matches handy.
2. Turn on your emergency lights as soon as possible. This is often overlooked in the heat of moment. You need to make yourself visible to other drivers as soon as possible.
3. Make sure the car is pulled to the far side of the road as possible, but watch out for edges of hills and other grassy areas. Hailstorms can soften mud and grass much quicker than rain, and you don’t want the car to slide off the bank when you jack it up.
Make sure the car is turned off, grab that raincoat and umbrella, and get started:
1. Fasten the umbrella to the front window by propping it inside a half-open window. This will serve as your ‘tent’ as you do work on the front tire (prop it up on the back for rear tires)
2. Remove the hubcap and/or wheel cover, and slowly remove the nuts; place in the small cup, and place the cup inside the car so you don’t lose track of it.
3. Slowly turn the wrench counterclockwise for all studs on the wheel but don’t remove them completely.
4. Position the jack under the car carefully, and make sure you’ve picked a spot on solid ground. Avoid using mud, grass, or sand for this. Gravel and concerete are your safest bet, and you can’t afford to have this slip away with the rain.
5. Start lifting the car approximately until it’s about one inch above the ground.
6. Finish removing the lug nuts, and place in your handy cup inside the car.
7. Remove the tire and roll it to the side of the road (Make sure you pick a spot where it won’t get carried off in the stream). It may be helpful to tuck it under the other side of your car while you work.
8. Get the spare tire and position it on the wheel
9. Refasten the tire using the lug nuts you’ve saved in the cup
10. Once it’s fastened, do a double check then lower the car by disengaging the jack.
11. Finish tightening the lug nuts when the wheels are on the ground.
Wrapping it up
1. Carefully pick up the old tire and wrap it in a blanket or plastic (so it doesn’t drip and damage the trunk)
2. Remove any flares, but don’t turn off your emergency signal until you’re back on the road.
3. Shake off the umbrella and store it
4. Give yourself a pat on the back for handling the challenge like a professional!
While the standard routine for changing a flat tire involves setting up some flares, hauling out the car jack, and getting your hands dirty, a little extra caution is necessary when you find yourself in a hail storm. Plan ahead for storm season by packing the car with a raincoat, a handy ‘umbrella hat ‘ and a basic car repair kit so you can handle any emergency with ease.