Have you ever been stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire? Found it impossible to loosen the lug nuts? My brother actually had a flat tire a few weeks ago at my house. I saw him trying to loosen the lug nuts by hand! I started chuckling, and contemplated whether I should let him in on a little trick.
Well I’ll let you know a good trick and old mechanic showed me. Instead of using your arms, which I’m sure you know is difficult, use your leg strength to loosen the lug nuts. It’s something that’s simple, but not something you would have thought of unless someone showed you how to do it. Consider lug nuts have about 80-120 foot-pounds of torque on them. Unless you have Herculean strength in your arms, I’m sure you’ve never felt like you can get those lug nuts loose. The “Foot Trick” will help loosen them quickly, easily, and with minimal effort, After all your legs are strong.
To do this remember to go in the correct direction. (Rightie-Tightie, Leftie-Loosie!) Set you lug wrench as firmly and deeply onto the lug nut as you can. Carefully, quickly, and with force apply a good amount of pressure with the heel of your foot. It will be more effective, than using the toe or ball of your foot. (If you are wearing high-heels, maybe you should use your ball of your foot!) You should really only needed to loosen them a little bit. I’d suggest stomping hard 1 or 2 times, until you hear a loud crack or squeak noise. That means you’ve loosened them enough and from there you should be able to twist off the lug nut by hand. This is also a good technique to use when tightening your spare tire.
This “Foot Trick” will save you lots of time and effort when changing a flat. You also won’t have to wait for an auto service to come help you. Besides, it will feel great changing a flat tire yourself!
Have you ever noticed that those “Little black things on your Tires” are missing? Those are called Valve Caps. Don’t they just magically seem to disappear? I bet you’ve noticed your missing 1 or 2. You keep driving around without replacing them, right? You most likely don’t think it’s a problem, and is a small issue.
Although small, valve caps help protect the valve stems from debris and dirt. If you don’t have valve caps on some tires, you’ll most likely notice those tires lose a little more air. Usually all the debris and dirt hit the needle, gradually releasing air. So it’s good to get them replaced if you are missing some.
Valve caps are available at all auto parts stores. They are the same size on all tires, and are good to have handy. Usually they are $1 for a pack of 4. Sometimes I’ve seen them for $2-3, but I would check at another store. You could always poach some from someones else’s tires! Of course I can’t condone that! That’s probably why I’m missing valve caps!
I realized that many people might not even really know the proper way to check their Tires Pressure.
Check what the correct Tire Pressure is for your car, and ignore what it says on the Tires sidewall. Those tolerances are usually the Maximum for what the Tires will tolerant, and not what the Tires should be inflated to. There should be a sticker with The Correct PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) that will be located inside of the door or on or around the doojamb.
- Touch your Tires with the back of you hand to see if they are hot. If you’ve been driving obviously they will be, which most likely will give you an incorrect PSI reading. Wait, a few minutes to let the Tires cool off. It’s always good to check cold tires.
- Use a Tire Gauge, and check to see if you Tires are inflated properly. Make sure to push the Tire Gauge as straight as possible onto the Valve Stem. Make sure to check the Tires Pressure at least 3 times! Many times you will check once, but many factors could affect your readings. You will get an inaccurate reading by not pushing in on the Valve Stem straight or correctly, and get a PSI reading that is wrong.
- If you’ve determined the PSI in your Tires are too low, get out your Portable Air Compressor and pump your tires up. Many Portable Air Compressors are have a Gauge right on them, but many tend to be inaccurate. I’d suggested checking again with a Tire Gauge.
5. If you’ve determined the PSI in your Tires are too high, release some of the air by pushing in the needle for only 1 or 2 seconds. It’s annoying to let out too much air, and then having to pump it up again. Although if you have an Portable Air Compressor it’s not a problem!
If you don’t have a Tire Gauge, I recommend you go buy one at your local Auto Parts Store. Pencil Gauges are only $1 are work fine for most people. However, Pencil Gauges break quickly, and then can give bad readings. Dial Gauges are around $5, but are more accurate and last longer.
Again, Don’t Check Hot Tires! Think back to your 6th grade Science class. Remember what the pictures of heated molecules looked like. They were bouncing all over the place! The same thing happens to your Tires if you’ve been driving for a long time. The air gets hot inside, bouncing around all the air. If you check Hot Tires you will get inaccurate readings! It’s best to Check Tires Pressure in the morning when you haven’t driven on them. If you don’t think this makes a difference… it does! I’ve done tests myself.
I hope this helps you keep your Tires inflated properly!
Portable Air Compressors are definitely worth $10-$30. Many Gas Stations will charge for using Air Pumps. If you are like most people, I assume you don’t carry quarters. (Definitely not enough to pump up your tires!) I also assume you hardly check how much Air is in your tires too. I’m I right? Yeah, most likely! It’s just to inconvenient to worry about!
If your tires are only a few psi low, your handling will be different. Handling in wet conditions will be even worse! A tire will lose .5 psi-1 psi every month of regular driving. Every 10*F change in Temperature will make your tires lose about 1 psi (usually happens when it gets colder.)
A Portable Air Compressor you keep in your trunk will not only save you the hassle, but time and money as well. Your tires will last a lot longer if you keep them properly inflated to the correct pressure. The Fuel Efficiency of your car will also be much better with properly inflated Tires. If you aren’t sure about the correct pressure, check inside the door or around the opening. Don’t follow what it says on the sidewall of your tires!
You can find Portable Air Compressors in big-box stores or a local Autoparts Stores. Buy a Portable Air Compressor! Trust me, you won’t regret it!
Pictured below is my Portable Air Compressor. I bought it at Target for $20, and it’s served my family and I well. I’ve used it on all of the cars we have, including many people’s cars who needed some Air when they’ve stopped by. I’ll always have one handy!