Letter Re: A Flat Tire as Learning Experience, by Rock O.

My truck and my wife’s van both have extensive “WTSHTF” kits, for use in case of an emergency. The following was a simple, unexpected yet common occurrence that was the real eye opener for me. At 5:30am the other morning. I decided to drive my fairly new diesel VW to a gun show in the area. We only use it for around town drives and it is garage kept. Halfway to the gun show, on a major highway, I had a blowout. ‘No big deal’. I’m thinking. I’ve changed lots of tires in my 64 years. Wrong!

Pulling off the highway I assess my situation, and I quickly realize several things: It’s darker than a coal miner’s rear end, I don’t have my “oh s**t” kit or even a flashlight and I’ve never changed a tire on this type of car. Thankfully, a deputy sheriff and a “road-ranger” both came to my aid and prevented what could have been a nasty situation.

Lessons learned: Familiarize yourself with your car. I had to go exploring to locate the emergency flashers switch on the dash!. The factory tool kit [supplied by VW] is a joke. The provided tire-iron requires an extension bar to use; unless you are Superman. A small can of Blaster [aerosol penetrating oil] will also go a long way to loosen lug nuts that were installed with an impact wrench. A 2”x12”x12” block of wood is a must to put under the jack–for soft sand or mud. Also it helps to locate the “Jack-point” in the daylight before you try to find it in the dark. At night they aren’t easy to locate. A really good flashlight is a must. Trying to change a tire in the dark is very difficult. The final two items are a must: a pair of gloves and a “hazard vest” will also help keep your inner child be at peace on the side of the highway.

A small handgun that will slip into your pocket isn’t a bad idea either. You might not be lucky enough to have a deputy stop when you have a flat in a “bad area”. Those that come aren’t there necessarily there to help you. You other choices are to stay in your car until daylight or drive on the rim, which will result in major financial damage to your wallet.

Lessons Learned: Fifteen minutes of daylight practice and a few small items would have made all the difference when faced with this common, but unexpected situation.