Every driver sooner or later faces an unpleasant situation: while driving, a wheel suddenly goes flat. What to do in this case, how to quickly restore the car to working order and whether it is possible to minimise the likelihood of tire damage - all this is explained in this article.
How tube tires differ from tubeless tires?
To begin with, let's understand what kind of wheels the car is equipped with. According to the design features, tires are divided into two types: having a tube inside, that is, a rubber tube in the form of a ring, and a one without it known as a tubeless tire.
It is possible to prevent air leakage in tubeless tires due to a special layer of rubber applied to the inner surface of the tire, as well as a more complex design of the rim.
The design feature is not the only advantage of tubeless tires, they are characterized by the following positive aspects:
- Possibility to operate the car with a punctured tire. The technology of tubeless tire manufacturing is such that in case of a puncture, the pressure inside the tire remains normal for some time. This is due to the presence of a special sealing layer that tightly surrounds the sharp object that damaged the rubber and prevents the escape of air. Due to this design feature, the probability to lose control and get in an accident is reduced, the driver can calmly continue the journey, even when the nearest service station is a few tens of kilometres away.
- Quicker repair. Once a car with a punctured tubeless tire has reached its destination, it is much easier to fix it compared to a car with a tube. Special gels and pastes are produced for this purpose, the tire does not need to be dismantled, and the repair process itself takes a few minutes, and it can be done even by untechnical people.
- Service life. The absence of a tube provides optimal temperature conditions and increases the heat transfer from the tire to the rim. Due to this, it lasts 10-12% longer.
- Minimum likelihood of an "explosion". Tires with a tube are hotter and therefore more at risk of reaching the pressure limit, especially in hot weather. This makes them very vulnerable when hitting an obstacle. Instant leakage leads to loss of control and can cause an accident. Tubeless tires are relatively safe in this regard due to the difference in design and increased durability.
- Weight. This type of tire is much lighter, therefore the load on the wheel bearings and suspension is less. The low weight also contributes to less heat when driving fast for long distances.
Why a flat tire can occur: the main causes
Before proceeding to repair a damaged tire, the driver must determine what caused the depressurization. As a rule, this problem is a consequence of one of the following situations:
- A puncture in the tread area. This is the most common cause of a flat tire. If you hit nails, pieces of wire, screws they damage the tire, forming a hole through which air escapes. You can repair the puncture on-site with the necessary tools and equipment, and with minimal repair skills. If the sharp object that pierced the tire is larger, nothing can be done on the spot, you will have to call a tow truck and seek help.
- Tire cut. What to do if a tubeless tire is flat? Here, we are most likely talking about a cut, since small sharp objects do not cause such a tire significant harm. Especially dangerous is a cut on the side: the rubber there is much thinner than on the running part of the tread. The cause of such damage is accidental contact of the tire with fragments sticking out of curbs.
- The wheel is flat on the rim. Rim deformation is quite a frequent phenomenon. Any pothole can cause bends and dents. Also, a tyre takes the impact on the curb when parking or making a turn, especially beginner drivers often commit this crime.
- The valve is to blame. Air leakage can be caused by a damaged valve as a result of improper installation or accidental mechanical action. If you have a flat tire, the first thing to do when inspecting it is to pay attention to the condition of these elements. Valves are made of two types - short and long. The longer ones are less likely to cause problems and are more reliable in operation.
How to Change a Flat Tire: 10 Simple Steps
Many car owners in principle do not consider it necessary to understand the structure of the car and learn the simplest ways of fixing problems. If you have a flat tire and you are late for an important meeting, you can always call a cab or tow truck for your car. However, having a minimum of maintenance skills won't hurt anyone, so we suggest learning how to change a flat tire for a spare tire yourself.
There is nothing complicated about this procedure:
- The most important thing is to ensure the immobility of the car with the jack. To do this, the car must be on a levelled road, and stones and other objects that may affect the stability of the car must be removed from under the wheels.
- Make sure the vehicle does not roll forward or backwards. The first thing to do is to lock the rear wheels with the handbrake. For a manual transmission, turn off the engine and put the knob in first or reverse. For automatic transmissions, select mode "P" - parking. Some motorists believe that the only thing they need to do before jacking up the car is to activate the handbrake. However, this will only lock the rear wheels, while engaging the gear will also immobilize the driving front wheels. Additional blocking of the wheels with heavy objects would not be unnecessary either.
- Loosen the nuts. Yes, this should be done when the car is on all four wheels. The fact is that you will need to exert some force to loosen the nuts, which is undesirable when the car is on the jack.
- For the same reason, take out the spare tire in advance. That way you will minimize body shake and the possible fall of the car.
- Determine where to install the jack. When doing this for the first time, it is best to use the owner's manual. The manufacturer specifies exactly where to place the jack to safely lift the car. Most often it is behind the front and rear wheel arches.
- After installing the jack, begin to slowly lift the body. Most cars come with simple screw-type jacks with a clear principle of operation, which does not cause difficulties even for beginners.
- Use a wheel wrench to loosen the bolts (or nuts, depending on the model), but not all the way, and slide the wheel off the bearing. Do it carefully, remembering its considerable weight. Then remove the bolts and remove the wheel completely.
- Install the spare on the bearing. If the model is equipped with a guide, this is easier to do. If not, align the holes on the disc and the bearing, fixing with one bolt to start with.
- Screw in the remaining bolts with your hands, without using the wrench.
- Lower the car from the jack and only then begin to tighten the bolts. As much as you can with your hand and then with a wrench. Press the wrench with your foot and use your own bodyweight to make sure it is as tight as possible. Repeat the procedure several times until the bolts are tight.
Now you know what to do if you have a flat tire on your car and what to do in the first place. Note that the factory spare tire is usually not designed for full operation, so do not speed more than 60-70 km/h. There are usually warning labels on the tire. Check the car's manual for the maximum permissible speed when driving on the spare.
Consequences of driving on a flat tire
It's not always possible to detect air leaks in time. Many drivers do not pay attention to the fact that they have a little puncture. What to do if once the situation has reached a critical level and further operation of the car is almost impossible? Let's imagine that there is no pump, no repair kit, no spare tire and there is no place to wait for help.
If there is no other way out, it is possible to drive on a flat tire. Of course, by the end of the road, especially if the runway is several kilometres, the tire is worn out. Under the weight of the car, it will be completely deformed. It means that the owner of the car will be forced to buy a new tire.
The consequences of driving on flat tires are most unfortunate, so you should resort to it only in a hopeless situation. When going on a long journey, it is necessary to check the availability of spare tire, compressor and first aid kit.
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