Flat tire preparedness - rethinking spare tire(s)

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by hot diggity, Nov 26, 2018.

  1. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++

    I hadn't had a flat tire in more than 15 years, and had forgotten how much fun it could be. By the time I noticed the tire was low it was too late. I was stuck on the roadside. There was a much more suitable area to change the tire just a short distance away, but driving there on the completely flat tire was more abusive to the car than I thought.

    So, it's dry and sunny, and I'm on the shoulder of a county road in the middle of farm land. This was a blessing, considering that a flat tire could happen anywhere, in any weather. Accessing the spare tire from the trunk proved to be battle enough. In the rain, or in view of unfriendly onlookers it would have been ugly. I had to move much of the trunks contents into the back seat. This left me feeling vulnerable and exposed. Axe, rifles, blowgun (ouch!), ammo cans, sleeping bag, tent... loads of stuff was in the way, preventing me access to the spare tire, trapped under the trunk floor.

    Everything out, it's now in a heap, under a blanket in the back of the car. At least it's secure, dry, and out of view. And the spare is... flat. It was a Sunday morning, so I called #1 Son to come rescue me. We almost burned the little 12V compressor down trying to get anywhere near 60PSI in the space saver spare, but ever so slowly it worked. This gave me time to get some oil on the tire too/lug wrench, since it was rusted solid at a 90 degree angle. Functional, but painfully slow.

    While we were standing around waiting on the compressor and wondering what else could go wrong, I found that the full size flat tire wouldn't fit in the trunk. We were exposed for an uncomfortably long time, all of which would have been avoided if I'd checked the air in the spare tire ... ever.

    Two flats later. Lessons learned. Hurricane Florence, and the continuing recovery around here has left our roads littered with debris, and I've caught two more punctures since the storm. Compared to the first, they were almost uneventful. My spare never went back in the trunk. If I had a normal car it would be stood up and wedged behind the drivers seat. Since I use my cars as work vehicles they're all two-seaters. I pull the rear seat bottom cushion out and have more space where it had been, to place the spare. I need to secure lots of potentially flying junk in the car with me and may utilize the rear seats ratcheting "child seat" function to retain the spare tire in an upright position against the seat back. (Everything in the back seat stays covered with a heavy blanket) The jack, kept fully lowered, where the car will be with a flat tire, and the other tire tools slide under the passenger seat. (this may not be possible on newer cars) the factory tire lug wrench leaves much to be desired, but with some duct tape to silence its rattling inner handle and kept well oiled and pivoting freely, it works okay. Leather gloves are always available with the tire change tools.

    Now I can exit the car with jack and lug wrench in hand, keep the car locked as I loosen the lug nuts and jack the car up, unlock only the drivers side to swap the flat for the spare and then lock it back up again. No need to expose what I have in the trunk, taking my eyes off my surroundings as I dig out the spare and tools, and since even the doors are only opened briefly, I could do this without getting my gear soaked in the rain.

    The narrow space saver spares aren't ideal, but they beat walking. With the condition of the roads around here lately I'm considering a second one.

    When was the last time you checked the air in your spare tire?
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2018
    Ganado, Zimmy, Mountainman and 9 others like this.
  2. Gator 45/70

    Gator 45/70 Monkey+++

    Been a couple of years since I've seen my spare, I always take it for granted the spare will leak down over a period of time.
    It's a given fact!
  3. BenP

    BenP Monkey++

    I keep a tire plug kit in the truck and a gas powered air compressor in the back. I can plug a tire and be back on the road in 9 min. :)
    Tully Mars, 3cyl, sec_monkey and 4 others like this.
  4. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Monthly. Check the oil each gas fill up, even tho the engine has not used a drop in the last 70,000 miles.

    On all my rigs, the tire is outside. On two of them, the tires ride under the rear - to afford some (very little) protection in the event of a rear-end collision. On my daily driver, the tire rides on the back deck ('Zuki)

    Of greater concern is the lug nuts. Normally put on by a min-wage monkey with an air hammer. I find it difficult to break the lug nuts, it is impossible for my wife. This is a real pet peeve of mine. Despite repeatedly asking for the lugs to be hand tightened - actually torqued to specification. I hear the tire monkey welding the damn things (BBrrrraaaaaaaaaappppppppppppppppppppppp) on. You know what I mean.

    I take the lug nuts off at home, lube then with WD-40 (it rains here) then put then back on. A real PITA because I then need to check the lug nuts 4x a year as the seasons change. It gets paid back when you have a flat at 0F...

    I'll continue to do this, but will likely sign up for AAA for tire changes. You can injure yourself or even fie swapping out a tire up here.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2018
  5. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    I have the doughnut spare and jack set plus a full size spare in my wifes car.
    I don't know the last time the spare doughnut was aired but this past summer when i checked it had 20 psi in it. Supposed to have 60 in it.

    My nissan leaf has no spare.
    The firebird has a doughnut.
  6. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++

    Long ago when I was dragging land-speed cars round with the Jeep, I made it a point to be sure the spare, mounted under the rear bumper, was fully inflated. The tire must've been more than ten years old when a dirty little boy came running into the house telling me the Jeep just exploded. I thought he might have done something to it, but the sand behind the Jeep where he'd been playing with his toy trucks was undisturbed.
    The whole sidewall had blown out of that spare tire. Both sides were weather checked and dry rotted. Even fully inflated it wouldn't have held much more than its own weight.

    Age is certainly another consideration with truck spares. Certainly a neglected area of preparedness that's really easy and reasonably inexpensive to maintain. I used to just put the best of the old tires on the spare when I got a new set, now I rotate the year-old new spare tire onto the ground and hang a new one under the truck.
  7. SB21

    SB21 Monkey+++

    I drive pickups only. I carry a small floor jack in the back of the pickup . Every time I see that jack back there , I tell myself that I need to check the spare to see if it even has air in it . I think I will do this now , at your insistence . Another thing is those lowering systems that hold those tires up . I've heard stories were some people haven't been able to lower the tire because the thing was rusted up .
    Now's the time before the weather gets any worse .
  8. Lancer

    Lancer TANSTAFL! Site Supporter+++

    My little commuter Hyundai has no spare, factory gear is a 12VDC compressor and a can of fix-a-flat......
    Give me a warm fuzzy...
    Wife's bimmer has run flats, but there's room for a full size spare under the trunk floor, so I bought her one. And a dedicated breaker bar/6-point socket and small floor jack.
    The truck had a full size, originally mounted under the bed: now residing under the tool box for better access.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2018
  9. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    I have a full set of four winter tires on rims for the truck, and a full size spare behind the drivers seat in the SMART. I've had a flat in the SMART at freeway speeds and it took out the entire sidewall.

    Taking SHTF into consideration, a set of run flats wouldn't be a bad idea, or having a vehicle with a very common size tire.

    Here are THE most popular tire sizes - Retail - Modern Tire Dealer
  10. Gator 45/70

    Gator 45/70 Monkey+++

  11. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    The most common tire failures are tread separation or sidewall failures caused by under or over inflation, or poor tire design. In those cases, tires filled with sealant or plug kits and inflators will be useless. If you are off road, rim splits and sidewall punctures will leave you stranded without an adequate spare or two.

    In a bug out or SHTF situation, having prepared for the worst case scenario is what we do. I have a vehicle that runs on diesel, is a 4X4, I have 2 full sets of tires mounted on rims. It isn't going to go everywhere because of it's weight and size. I wish it was a CJ built for off road, but I would need a trailer for the spare tires and gear. Every option I have looked at seems to have limitations.

    What I wish I had.... only with the hard top.
  12. Gator 45/70

    Gator 45/70 Monkey+++

    Hey now, Is that Jeep a diesel???
    Like you I have a 4x4 now if push comes to shove it's going into 4 wheel drive and i'll ride the rim to town if needed!!!!
  13. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    My wife recently rented a car in the SLC airport. I insisted she check the oil before leaving and ensure the damn thing had a real spare.

    she would be driving thru 2 hours worth of empty country.- no place to have a flat.
  14. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    I generally maintain my real spares and keep a 12 volt air compressor on board as well as a 12 volt impact wrench if needed, also spare tire sealant in a can . .
    However I also have a plug kit for simple issues like a nail or screw . it's easy enough to pull the nail and ram in a plug and be on my way add air as required.
    The tire sealant in a can is in the event I am on the freeway in heavy traffic and I can feel a tire softening . It is unsafe to be changing tires on the highway so using the seal-an-air is fast and gets me to safety . I don't care that tire shops don't like it ,my safety comes first .I set up all my vehicles this way for my wife and kids .it's SOP .
  15. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    @Gator 45/70 That Jeep isn't a diesel, I suspect. It's a representation of what I think would be a good SHTF vehicle. doesn't mean you couldn't convert it to a diesel. :D

    This is my 4X4...

  16. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    "When was the last time you checked the air in your spare tire?"
    Every maintenance, so every 5000 miles. My first inspection on wife's brand new Rav4, I found the spare very low so even if the car is new you cannot depend on it being ready unless you inspect it.
  17. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Retired Curmudgeonly IT Monkey Founding Member

    Tire shops hate it when people use "Fix-a-flat" stuff. Some types are flamable, and pose a danger to dismount, besides making a mess.
    My 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan minivan has a minispare under the front seats. A crank handle is used to lowdr the tub containing the donut, after having jacked up one side to slide the tub out. Big PITA! So I bought a spare fullsize wheel and had a full size tire installed. I keep it in the back of the van. Much easier to deal with.
  18. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I like peeling bananas and (occasionally) people.

    I am the Poster Boy for the Stranded By A Flat Foundation.

    Here's what I do:

    I keep the best tire from the set I last replaced as my spare, on a rim, balanced & ready to go.

    I carry a 12vdc compressor for topping air up as needed.

    I carry a tire plug & patch kit.

    I carry a four-way lug wrench and a piece of steel pipe three feet long to use as a cheater.

    I carry two screw jacks, one for each side, just in case I have to crawl under.

    Jack stands? Nope? One jack is the jack. The other jack is the jack stand. Though it's seldom needed with screw jacks.

    It's trusting hydraulic jacks that will get you head flattened.

    A screw gun and several screws if different sizes--mostly fine thread , some flat head, some countersunk.

    If I run over a nail, I don't take the time to plug it. I pull the nail out and run a screw into the hole, full tight. That's usually good for a thousand miles or so, maybe with a super-micro leak, usually without. Then I can plug and patch the tire in a place of safety.

    If I get an "ice-pick" puncture in a side wall I do exactly the same blessed thing: I run a screw into it, pump the tire up, and get on down the road.

    Later, I can plug and patch the sidewall, and call it perfect.

    This may give some people the screaming heebie-jeebies.

    "You CAN'T repair a punctured sidewall!" They wail. "You'll die!

    They may mean well, but I happen to know better from direct experience.

    My first clue in that direction was when I got a super slow leak in a tire. When I checked it out I had a screw in the tread.

    I'd picked it up just like a nail. But the head completely sealed the puncture--until a few thousand miles later when the head wore slap off the screw and let the micro leak start.

    So--every body makes their choices and goes on from there.



    I know for a fact that screw-plugging a tire in sixty seconds of less is usually faster, safer, and better than doing roadside tire repairs or swaps.
  19. oldman11

    oldman11 Monkey+++

    That’s an old truck drivers trick. I have done that on Monday and fixed it on Saturday when I was driving.
    Tully Mars, 3cyl, sec_monkey and 5 others like this.
  20. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I like peeling bananas and (occasionally) people.

    Heee, heee, heee! I am NOT ALONE!!
    Ganado, sec_monkey and Grandpa Patch like this.
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