Due to safety concerns, many companies now send a service to a driver when a tire needs to be changed roadside. While this is a developing safety trend, drivers may often find themselves in situations where they must change a tire on their truck or trailer. More often than not, this will happen at a company or tire suppliers’ shop. Proper steps taken when changing tires prevent a wide array of injuries including crush injury, pinch injury and back strain.
As with all roadside activities, there is a risk associated with changing tires on the go.
1. Pull over and park the vehicle.
Drive to an area that is clear of traffic. Turn on your emergency flashers/hazard lights. If possible, park on a flat, hard area. Apply the parking brake. Place blocks in front and back of the wheel diagonally opposite to the tire that is flat. Familiarity with equipment leads to injury reduction. Knowing the tools required, the functions and proper storage of the materials is important knowledge for any operator.
2. Remove tire and equipment from holding space.
Familiarize yourself with and follow all manufacturer instructions on the use of tools – use of tools for anything other than intended purposes will increase the likelihood of an injury. Don’t forget your good body mechanics while lifting, turning, twisting and pulling. Keep your back in a neutral position, take breaks if you are bent down for too long and always lift with your legs.
3. Loosen the leg (wheel) nuts.
Use the tire iron to loosen the lug nuts before jacking up the vehicles but do not remove the nuts completely. Loosening lug nuts in a star pattern help to maintain the stability of the tire. To gain maximum leverage, fit the wrench to the nut so that the handle is on the right-hand side and grasp the handle near the end, this will reduce effort required and strain. Pay close attention to the grip the wrench has on the nut when you are turning it, you do not want it to slip off.
4. Jack the vehicle.
Follow the jacking instructions to position the jack at the correct point as designated by the instruction manual for the vehicle. If you drive or work on multiple vehicle makes/models, this can vary so be sure to read the vehicle manual. It is very important the vehicle is on as solid and level place as possible while lifting it with the jack. As the vehicle begins to lift check the proper placement of the jack but never get under the vehicle when the jack alone is supporting it. Complete the removal of the lug nuts.
5. Remove the flat tire.
Lift the tire straight off of the wheel and place it a safe distance away from your work area to ensure it does not become a tripping hazard. Alternatively, the tire can be placed under the axle to provide additional support in the event that the jack should slip.
6. Put the spare tire on.
Before proceeding to place the spare tire on, remove any corrosion on the mounting surface with a wire cloth or brush; installation of the tires without good metal contact can cause the lug nuts to loosen and the tire could fall off while driving.
7. Reinstall the lug nuts.
First tighten the lug nuts with fingers ensuring that the tapered end is facing inward.
8. Lower the vehicle completely and complete the tightening of the lug nuts.
Again, always follow the instructions on the vehicle/jack to lower the vehicle back down to prevent jack slipping. Use the wrench to tighten the nuts. Use only the wrench, do not use your foot, a hammer, pipe of any other object other than the designated tool to complete this task. Make sure the wrench is securely engaged over the top of the nut to prevent the tool slipping off the nut and causing injury.
9. Put away tools.
Following all manufactures instructions, secure the disabled tire and all tools back in designated locations. Tools that are not properly secured become an injury hazard. If the tools are in the cab of the truck they become projectiles (heavy ones) in the event of sudden braking or collision. In a shop setting, they are a tripping hazard.
The final step in tire replacement is to retorque tires. Specific equipment may have specific recommendations for tire securement, but 200 kilometers is a common distance. Tires that are not properly torqued could come loose.