For many people, a vehicle is an essential part of their life. It may be your only method of transportation to school, work, the grocery store, and the doctor. For those recreating in the Sierra, car maintenance and tire care is essential as we travel our scenic routes.

Unfortunately, car maintenance can become costly. If you’ve got time and a little know-how, there are many easy projects you can complete yourself to avoid shop fees. Some general tire maintenance is possible even for most novice drivers.

Installing New Tires

Having new tires installed is something that is traditionally done at a shop. Mechanics have a machine that removes and reinstalls a new tire onto the wheel itself. If you can find somewhere to make the swap for you or get equipment to do it yourself, installing new tires is no more difficult than changing a flat. You must check the tire numbers, purchase replacements, swap the new tires onto your wheels, and place them back onto your car. You can stay safe by using reliable jacks, placing jack stands, and having another person present.

Changing a Flat

Changing a flat tire is a useful skill for everyone to know. The first step is to be properly equipped. You will need a spare or donut tire, jack, and lug wrench. It’s also smart to use tire chocks to verify your car won’t roll and turn on your flashers if alongside a road. You’ll simply loosen the lug nuts, raise the car, remove the lug nuts and tire, make the switch, and reverse the process. The pressure of a newly installed tire is often off, so be sure to address that as soon as you can.

Correcting Air Pressure

Nearly anyone is capable of addressing tire pressure. Your car will alert you to low pressure, or you may notice your tires looking flat. You can verify the required pressure inside the driver’s side door. Then, use an automatic gas station air pump or a tire gauge and air compressor to reach the desired fill level. You should use caution because over-filled tires can be just as hazardous as under-filled. If using a manual gauge, make sure that you check the pressure often during the fill and release any excess air.

Fixing a Puncture

Sometimes when your tire goes flat, you must buy new. Other times, the leak can be repaired. The easiest way to repair a small hole is by using a can of Fix-a-Flat. The can of a sealant and air attaches to the valve stem. You spray inside then drive to spread the product. Another option is to use a tire plugging kit. If you can pinpoint the leak with soapy water, you can make the puncture have clean edges, insert the plug, and seal it. For large punctures, it is best to patch the inside of the tire. You may need a mechanic to safely perform that type of repair.

Being able to work on your car is a useful skill. When in doubt, you can always ask a savvy friend or mechanic to help get your tires rolling sooner.



Publisher of Sierra Rec Magazine. An avid hiker and explorer of mountain lifestyle and adventure. I love to discover new trails, hike along rivers and hang a hammock along the shores of a mountain lake. I often great people on the trail and have found some of my favorite places from the advice of people I meet in the Wilderness. I love the sierra and just like sharing what I know.

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