Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Be Prepared for a Flat Tire or Dead Battery

Two of the most common emergencies vehicle owners face while out driving are a flat tire or a dead battery. These may seem like simple problems to fix to some, but if done improperly, it could prove dangerous.

While changing a flat or jump starting a car, it is important to follow certain procedures. When changing a flat tire, be sure the spare is properly inflated. Unfortunately, the spare tire falls in the “out of sight, out of mind” category. Too many times, we begin to change our tire only to find out the spare is flat as well. All tires lose about a pound of air pressure a month. If you haven’t needed the spare in a while, it could be flat by the time you do. A good rule of thumb is to check the air pressure of all the tires, including the spare, once a month. Secondly, make sure the jack and lug wrench is in the vehicle at all times. It is easy to misplace these if you don’t use them very often. Finally, when putting the spare tire on the vehicle, tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern as opposed to clockwise or counter-clockwise. Otherwise, the wheel could come loose while driving.

Improperly jump starting a car could lead to a couple of problems. Sparks might cause any hydrogen gas leaking from the battery to explode. Your vehicles electronic components could also be damaged as the result of an improper hook up. To properly jump start a car, you may use either jumper cables or a portable battery booster. If using jumper cables, attach the positive clamp to the positive terminal of the good battery and the other positive clamp to the positive terminal of the dead battery. Next, attach the negative or ground clamp to the negative terminal of the good battery and the other negative clamp to the engine block, frame or other grounded metal in the car with the dead battery as far as possible from the battery. Do not connect it to the negative terminal of the dead battery. Remember that the red clamps are positive and the black clamps are negative. The terminals on the battery will be marked “+” or “-“.

The process to connect a portable battery booster is similar to jumper cables. First, connect the positive clamp of the battery booster to the positive terminal. Next, connect the negative clamp to the engine block or other grounded metal away from the battery.


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