16 December 2012

Nigeria: Flat Tyre? Save Your Life, Save Your Time

How would you feel if you planned to leave very early in the morning for work or embark on a trip but on coming to enter your car, you discover you have a flat tyre? As if that is not unfortunate enough, you also discover that your spare tyre is down too, or your jack faulty, and being early in the morning, there is no 'vulcanizer' to help fix the problem. You can imagine your frustration!

Suppose you have the above situation when you have already driven out and at an isolated or dangerous spot, and perhaps in the night? What if it happens to a medical personnel on an emergency, a couple on the way to their wedding, a school bus conveying children to or from school and the driver leaves the children there in search of a 'vulcanizer', to an ambulance conveying a sick person whose life depends on how fast treatment is administered or to a security patrol vehicle on an emergency assignment? What if it happens to a lady and she is all alone?

The above scenario is no mere supposition or fiction. It happens every day and it could happen to you even if your tyres are just out from the factory and filled with the best tyre sealant in the world! The cause could be either a tiny puncture or a leaking valve stem. So how can you save your time, life and valuables in the event of such thing happening to you? There is only one way: ensure you always carry a compact tyre inflator that you can power from the cigarette lighter of your vehicle to pump the flat tyre.

How can the inflator save your time?

To answer this question, let us consider the steps you need to take to change to a spare tyre, see how much time this will take and then compare these with the steps you need to take to utilize the tyre inflator and see how much time is involved.

Let's number the various steps needed to change to a spare tyre so we can get a clearer picture of what is involved. (1) You will need to bring out your jack (hoping it works) and (2) the nut driver (spanner) or ratchet. (3) You will need to bring out your spare tyre. This may not be easy depending on where and how it is stored in your vehicle and you could also be unfortunate to discover that the spare tyre is equally flat since most people hardly check to see the condition of the spare before driving. If you don't have wheel blocks in your vehicle, (4) you will need to look around for something you can use to block the two tyres (front and back) farthest from the flat tyre so as to prevent the vehicle from rolling as you jack it up. (5) You need to remove the hub cap first before you can have access to the wheel nuts. The wheel nuts on the flat tyre have to be unscrewed, half way first and then fully when the vehicle is jacked up. Your wheel will normally have about five nuts and removing each is taken at a step so this means further five steps (6, 7, 8, 9, 10). Note that some nuts can prove very stubborn to remove. (11) You need to locate the proper spot under the vehicle to place the jack; and this might not be easy to locate. (12) Then comes the actual jacking up of the vehicle; and you might discover that when fully operated, the jack has not given the vehicle enough ground clearance to remove the flat tyre. So you (13) jack it down and (14) look for objects to place under the jack to support the height. (15) Again you jack it up. When enough clearance has been got, you now fully unscrew the five nuts which will be another five steps (16, 17, 18, 19, 20). After removing the nuts, you (21) remove the flat tyre and (22) then go for the spare. (23) You need to properly guide the spare tyre through the studs to click it in position. Having done that, you screw the five nuts back halfway first (another five steps 24, 25, 26, 27, 28), and then (29) jack down the vehicle. With the vehicle fully jacked down, you now screw the five nuts tight (another five more steps 30, 31, 32, 33, 34). It is now time to (35) remove the jack, (36) pack it, (37) store away the flat tyre and (38) remove the blocks placed on the two tyres to prevent the vehicle from rolling. Process completed. You are now free to drive off.

You can see that there are about 38 steps involved in changing to a spare tyre. How much time and manual work do you think the whole process will take? Assuming each step takes you about 1 minute (in reality, some steps will take more than one minute), you would be spending about 38 minutes. Remember that you are not a professional 'vulcanizer' so it could take you longer.

Let us now look at the process involved in using the tyre inflator. All you need do is simply (1) take the inflator from your boot or pigeon hole, (2) connect the plug to the cigarette lighter point of your car and (3) the chuck to the valve stem of the flat tyre (remember the flat tyre is not removed), (4) start your engine and (5) switch on the inflator. In about five minutes, your tyre is inflated and you (6) disconnect the chuck, (7) disconnect the plug, (8) pack the inflator; and off you go. The process of connecting (2, 3) and disconnecting/packing (6, 7 & 8) the inflator will not take more than a minute! The pumping time is about five minutes; so in all you would be spending about seven minutes.

Now compare the 38 minutes you would spend to change to a spare tyre and the seven minutes on the inflator, and you'd see that the inflator would be saving you more than 80 per cent on time. Not only that, the amount of manual work you do with the inflator is very negligible compared to changing to a spare tyre. Anybody, man or woman, can use the inflator without a single drop of sweat.

How can the inflator save your life?

The longer you stay on the road fixing a flat tyre the more you increase your chances of being robbed, kidnapped and hit by a careless motorist. If the flat tyre is on the driver's side (front or back), when you bend down to change to a spare, you are exposing yourself to traffic and risking being crushed. In changing to a spare tyre, your hands are engaged all the way and full attention is required so you would hardly know when danger is looming until it is too late.

What if an ambulance carrying a sick person has to spend about 38 minutes on the way changing to a spare tyre when time is of essence to the survival of the sick person? What if it happens to a medical professional on an emergency call or security patrol on an emergency assignment? There was a situation when a school bus loaded with children was stranded in an isolated spot because of flat tyre and the driver left the children there in search of a 'vulcanizer'. You can imagine what could have happened to those children; a vehicle could run into them and crush them or kidnappers could have some easy catch there.

As you have seen from above, a tyre inflator will drastically reduce the time spent fixing the flat tyre and consequently the chances of harm befalling you. When engaging an inflator, you don't need to give it as much attention or concentration as you would to changing to a spare tyre. Once you connect it, you stand up and allow it to operate. While keeping an eye on it, you also have the chance to monitor your surroundings for any impending danger.

The importance of having a personal tyre inflator, therefore, cannot be overemphasized especially now we are in the ember months. No matter how careful you may be or how new your tyres are, you cannot totally avoid having a flat tyre. Therefore, be prepared by carrying a compact tyre inflator with you so that when it happens, you would minimize the time you spend fixing it especially when it happens in an isolated spot that could pose a risk to your life and valuables. The times we are living in are very dangerous times indeed.

Please note; the tyre inflator is not a replacement for a spare tyre. The law demands that you must have a spare tyre that is in good condition. The tyre inflator is only to help you in an emergency situation so that you can save time and quickly get out of a danger zone to a safer place where you can more conveniently fix the problem. However, in cases of tyre blowout, you have no choice but to change to a spare tyre. But you can drastically reduce the chances of a blow out by ensuring that your tyres are in good condition, and, more importantly, have the correct pressures in them. Incorrect tyre inflation - especially under inflation -is a major cause of tyre blowouts even if you are using brand new tyres.

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