Car Care: Pays to have flatty fix handy in a crisis
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Spare tyre: Do you have one?
Having a spare tyre, whether it be a full size (same as what’s fitted to the vehicle) or the wheel barrow size space saver is not a legal requirement for passenger vehicles come Warrant of Fitness (WoF) inspection time. In fact, the list is getting bigger of vehicles being sold with no spare wheel.
In its place is either an emergency repair kit of some sort, usually a canister of sealant, or a tyre designed to be driven for a short spell when punctured.
Both alternatives to the traditional spare-in-the-boot are designed to get the driver and vehicle safely home, or to a place of repair and not recommended for continued or long term use.
There are many arguments about what sort of spare you should carry. The standard answer from most sales staff when asked why there is no spare wheel in a vehicle is usually: “when was the last time you had a puncture”?
The standard reply from most buyers and the one that makes it easy for the sales staff to quickly move onis usually:“I can’t remember”.
There is slightly more to it in reality. Yes, we may not suffer from punctures as much as we once did,but the removal of the spare often comes down to manufacturers deciding on a particular body design, wanting to increase luggage space and reduce weight, plus reducing the costs of manufacture. Yes, the removal of one wheel and tyre all add up to reasonable dollar savings when total production numbers are taken into account.
We are not going to get into what type of spare you should or shouldn’t have in this week’s column. The important point is having something that will get you out of trouble if you do happen to be one of those unlucky enough to have a flatty when you least expect or need it.
The rules around spare wheels at WoF inspection time are pretty simple. If you have one, then it must be secure. That’s it. It could be dead flat. The inspector couldn’t care less. As long as it’s at no risk of becoming a danger to vehicle occupants or other road users in the result of an accident or a sudden stop, then it gets the tick of approval.
So while you may have arguably the best type of spare on-board, it may be as useless as the wheel/tyre that you’re trying to replace if it’s flat. It’s the same but different scenario with that magic canister of sealant. Is it still there? Has it reached its expiry date (yes they do actually have one)? Or was it used once,not replaced and still rolling around on the boot floor utterly useless?
Bottom line is whatever rescue remedy you have, make sure it is standing by ready to do its job if needed.
If your vehicle has the small space saver wheel, make sure it’s inflated to the correct pressure. They are normally pumped up to around 60psi which is roughly double that of the standard road tyre.
And if you do happen to use the can of sealant, make sure the tyre is checked for internal damage as soon as possible. The sealant may hold the required pressure initially but the cause of the puncture needs to be determined ASAP. Same with the run-flat option, get it checked out sooner rather than later if there is a dash warning light indicating a flat tyre.
What stimulated this article was when I was sitting down at the local boat ramp the other day watching the returned fishermen winching their boats back onto their trailers. It is great entertainment, with most having it down to a fine art. They can almost have their boats back on dry land without the skipper getting so much as their feet wet.
But there was one (there always is) retrieval that went horribly wrong. The boat was secured back on the trailer no problem, but when the vehicle was driven up the ramp to make way for other users, the driver managed to mount a concrete nib which instantly ripped the side out of the trailer tyre.
The whoosh of escaping air was a definite head turner for those nearby. Then came the head scratching when the driver jumped out of his vehicle and the extent of the damage was revealed.
It was a double axel trailer and boat going nowhere. A great days fishing suddenly turned to despair.
Yep you may have guessed it, no spare wheel in sight. What made it worse; it was a public holiday so the “closed-gone-fishing” signs were up at all the local tyre and repair shops in town.
For the cost of a spare wheel (inflated of course) this situation could have been far less inconvenient for the owner. What made it more frustrating he said, once he had cooled down, was not selling tickets for the entertainment he provided for the watching public.