The part of your car most likely to fail is the tyre because of a puncture. That’s when you’re glad you’ve got a spare tyre.

WE’VE JUST GIVEN away $500 worth of tyres to one lucky winner. All you had to do was write in with your tyre experiences, and our team has picked the one we felt had the best lesson for others.  But we’ve published most of the entries because there’s something in there for everyone, starting with this:
Well my story begins with my Mitsubishi lancer. I had a great set of wheels on it and a spare as well. Put subwoofers in the boot over the spare. Put screws and hinges to hold the subwoofers and one of tye screws went threw the bottom and into the spare didn’t realise it did. Got a flat one day so took out the spare put it on drove 1km and back to square one with 2 flat tyres in the one day.
PRACTICAL MOTORING SAYS : Your regular checks of your car should include your spare tyre!
I knew my Mitsubishi Grandis ( yes I’m a mum with kids, it suited the role) had a space saving tyre but had no reason to really think about what that meant until one day I rounded a a corner and heard this thudding.  I turned into the nearest side street to discover a piece of a garden stake had conveniently embedded itself into the side of my Tyre.   The noise I heard was the wood thumping in the wheel arch.  ARGH!!!!  

What to do? 

  • Firstly find car manual;
  • Secondly give kids food for peace and quiet whilst I read said car manual;
  • Thirdly dislodge space saving tire from space saving compartment, which is to small for the full size wheel/tyre;
  • Fourthly stare at this weedy yellow disc called a space saving tyre and wonder how that is going to work;
  • Fifthly jack up car (yes I’m very proud of that skill);
  • Sixthly undo wheel nuts with tyre iron… not easy, in fact impossible;
  • Seventhly ring the RACQ and plead damsel in distress; and
  • Problem solved with attractive… yellow space saving tyre eventually installed. Grandis then driven (slowly as is the practice with a yellow space saving tyre) straight to my mechanics. Much laughter at the yellow wheel on the Grandis followed by shaking of heads at how on earth I managed to embed a piece of garden stake into the tyre… answer: Pure skill. 
PRACTICAL MOTORING SAYS : No need to apologise for the Grandis, it’s a good peoplemover.  Good work on the stake, mostly we have to drive offroad to get that sort of damage.  But top marks to the wife of this writer who was driving a Discovery 3 with very tough mud terrain tyres that had been all over Australia with no punctures… yet on the way to school, on bitumen, managed to completely write off a tyre!
Travelling back on the Hume highway from a week away, passing a truck when he had a blow out. Couldn’t avoid the debris and blew out my right rear. Annoying in itself but forget I had left the spare at home – the RX8 boot was just to small. The puncture repair blow up kit couldn’t handle it and had to wait for the NMRA. Note to self – always make room for the spare.
PRACTICAL MOTORING SAYS : Ideally, we’d like to make a pyre of all space-saver spares and burn them all.  Tyre technology is not at the stage where we can do without spare tyres.
Last week a mate in his F250 and I in my Jeep went out some local trails in Alice Springs. Shortly into the trails we were noticing consistently that the F250 was skirting along both edges of the trails, and conditions were a bit tougher for the big Ford.

On an innocuous section of downhill track the F250 moved a rock on the edge of the trail which rolled forward with the rear tyre, until coming to rest against another rock in the trail, creating a fist-sized hole in the side wall of a brand new mud terrain.

Changing the tyre was an experience, as with no flat terrain to roll to, we needed to change out the rear on about a 20 degree downslope.  The front right wheel was rolled onto a trail washoff to create full articulation at the rear for a bush tyre change and wheel removal commenced. After the tyre was removed it was thrown into the back of the tray with gusto, which created a shift in weight and caused the F250 to roll forward about 6 inches down the far side of the washout and rest the rear hub firmly on the ground.

At this point the bottle jack was introduced to assist lifting the axle enough to replace the 35″ tyre.

The bottle jack was unable to produce the lift required, and the shovel was added to the mix to dig out the rocks from underneath the exposed right rear.

My friend did not now how old his tyre was, which was a great opportunity for educating on tyre dating marks, something I’ve taken to checking recently while looking for my next tyre replacement. 30 minutes after we stopped, we were back in motion  on a very old spare (tyre date 4003) and we limped out of the trails, and home to a couple of cool drinks under the verandah on a 40degree day.

In conclusion we learned/reminded ourselves on some tyre changing pearls of wisdom- try to find flat ground to change a tyre, always chock the wheels not involved in the change where possible, don’t throw the tyre into the back of the ute while on a hill, check the date of the spare, and where possible, run Goodyear tyres (my Jeep is on Goodyear Silent Armours!) so you don’t get a flat to begin with.

PRACTICAL MOTORING SAYS : The art of changing tyres on 4WDs in rough terrain would take a book…oh hang on, I already wrote one [ ].  All good points above and glad nothing bad happened!  I’ll just say that the standard jack may not cut it, and be sure to secure the car using a winch, chocks, another vehicle or whatever it takes. [ This entry was the winner of the $500 voucher ]
Driving home after having my car serviced I heard a couple of loud metal clangs somewhere underneath towards the back of the vehicle.
Stopped straight away, walked around and saw one of the rear wheels deflating very quickly.
Looking closer at the tyre a normal size 13 spanner was sticking out of the tyre and was bent at right angles after hitting the body of the car.
To this day I don’t know whether a spanner was left under the bonnet during servicing or picked up on the road but I surely did need a new tyre after that.
PRACTICAL MOTORING SAYS :  And that would be one reason why we don’t like anything other than a full-sized spare tyre. C’mon, if Toyota can put one in the 86 which is a small, cheap sportscar then there’s no excuse for anyone else.

Top spare Tyre tips

  • Check the spare isn’t too old;
  • Check it is inflated, preferably a little above normal pressure.  Every tyre loses pressure over time;
  • Check you actually have the jack and wheel brace to undo the nuts;
  • If you can take a full-sized spare, do so. Check secondhand places like eBay for a bargain. Once you’re outside of the cities or on weekends good luck repairing or replacing those run-flat tyres and space-saver spares; and
  • Practice changing the spare before you go.

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