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Adjusting to Your New Life In Canada and the USA
Changing your vehicle's tires

When the car has dried after its washing, practise changing the tires, so that you can easily do this in emergencies. However, never change on a hill or in icy conditions. Ring up AAA or CAA then.

Make sure that the engine is off and that the emergency brake is fully set. Have no kids around who might unleash the brake or crawl under the car. Again, make sure that you are on a flat surface.

Find the tire jack equipment.

First, locate the spare tire.

Make sure that you understand your owner's manuel instructions about how to remove it, if it is located under your vehicle. Note that some spares are "minis" designed for a just few miles of emergency use at lower speeds.

Because you are just practising changing a tire, you won't use the spare this time. Just make sure that it has enough air in it.

Next, use the handle with the jack to remove the "hubcap", the mental disk in the middle of one of your tires, being sure not to be too rough in doing this.

Next, very near the tire, on the side of the tire toward the driver's or front passenger's door, look under the vehicle to find structural support. This area must be strong enough to support the weight of the vehicle. You are NOT interested in the body shell, just the main frame.

On many cars, the structural supports have sockets designed to fit the jacks.

Next, use the jack to lift the tire in that area of the car several inches off the ground being sure that the jack remains straight. Jacks vary, so you will have to learn their use on your own.

Once raised, DO NOT get under the car. Car jacks are meant for short-term emergency use, not to give enough support to protect your body.

Next, use the wrench on or with the jack to start unloosing the "nuts" on the bolts around the tire. If rusted, some can be quite difficult to get off and you may have to use a power wrench the first time. Unloose all of the nuts at nearly the same time working on each in turn and then going back to unloose them some more. As you take them off, put the nuts in your pocket.

Take the tire off.

As this is not an emergency, replace the same tire. Tighten well the bolts, but do not make them so tight that you cannot easily remove them in an emergency. Replace the hubcap, and carefully lower the jack.

In an emergency, be sure to pull your car well away from traffic before attempting the change a tire. Lift the hood and turn on the turn signals or emergency lights to warn approaching drivers.

If a flat tire cannot be repaired at a gas bar or garage, buy at least two new ones. They wear better with a similar mate. Canadian Tire, Goodyear, Sears Auto Centres, and other stores have specials and will instal and balance tires for you, or you may wish to pay a bit more at your local gas bar or garage to build a relationship.

Do not drive with badly worn tires. You lose much of your braking ability on wet roads and are more likely to experience tire blow outs, which can be extremely dangerous at higher speeds.

Periodically have your tires rotated and balanced at a gas bar or garage or a store that specialises in tires. In the winter in northern areas, you may wish to buy and have special snow tires installed for extra safety. These can save your life.

Congratulations! You now know as much as most Americans and Canadians about car maintenance and minor servicing.

Good luck!

For more tips on adjusting to life in the USA and Canada:

Go to >> Adjusting Introduction

Go to >> Doing your laundry

Go to >> Buying a car

Go to >> Maintaining your car

For more discussion about interacting with Americans and Canadians:

Go to >> Interacting with Americans and Canadians

Go to >> Making friends

Go to >> Handling complaints

Go to >> Dealing with prejudice

Go to >> Avoiding sexism

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