A Strange Joy AKA How To Change A Tire And Still Be Happy

I am not a mechanic, nor do I play one on t.v.  I CAN change the oil in my automobiles, as well as air filters and radiator fluid.  Beyond those simple tasks, I’m in the dark.  Alas, yesterday, I realized that my left-front tire on my car was FLAT.  I don’t mean leaking, or sagging, or a bit deflated.  It was FLAT.  I was determined to fix the flat myself.  I’ve put air in my tires before, and any time I’ve had a leak or a nail in a tire, I’ve taken the car to a local mechanic.  But, the tire was too flat to drive on, and I didn’t want to have to take the tire off, take it to the mechanic, have him pump it up, come home, and then put the tire back on the car.  Nope.  I decided to tackle the whole project myself.  Here’s how it went:

1.  To find the source of the leak, I needed to get some air BACK into the tire, so that I could feel for the leak.  I received an air compressor for Christmas, but I had yet to take it out of the box.  I went to the shed, got the compressor, and then went about the process of assembling it.  Total time?  30 minutes.

2.  After assembling the compressor, I plugged it in to the power source, and allowed it to fill with air.  The compressor came with several adapters and it took some time to figure out the exact adapter I would need.  I fiddled with three or four adapters, applying thread-tape where necessary, until I had the proper attachments and hoses hooked to the compressor.  I unscrewed the little black thing that covers the tire valve, and pressed the tire inflation adapter to the tire valve.  Nothing happened.  Nothing.  I could “hear” the air going in, but the tire was not inflating.  The tire was so flat, that the air was leaking around the inner seal, and would not “catch” so that the tire would inflate.  Total time to realize the real situation?  30 more minutes.

3.  Now, I had to take the tire OFF of the car.  I borrowed a big, nice jack from a friend, but my car was too low for the jack to fit under it.  So, i had to use the lame jack that came with the car.  But, I couldn’t figure out how in the world to get the jack OUT of the trunk.  (Turns out, you just turn a little nob on the top counter-clockwise, which causes the jack to decompress, which releases the jack from the clamp in the rear of the trunk.)  I finally got the jack out of the back of the trunk, and got the car off of the ground.  After some struggling with the World’s Smallest Crowbar, i managed to get the lug-nuts loosened, and got the tire off of the car.  (Oh yeah, I loosened the lug-nuts a bit BEFORE I jacked the car up!)  Total time for this step?  30 minutes

4.  So, now I’m an hour and a half into a 10 minute project, my tire was still flat, and my car has only 3 wheels.  Time to fix the flat!  I had purchased a “tire-repair” kit for 4 bucks at the local auto place, and I used it to patch the hole.  For those of you who know about this kind of stuff, it’s the repair kit that has the sharp needle and 3 inch rubber pieces that you push into the hole to seal the leak.  Time for this step? 20 minutes.

5.  Next, I had to put the tire back on the car, and lower the car.  This was relatively easy, buy a fully inflated car tire is HEAVY.  Total time? 10 minutes.

Whew… So, my 10 minute project took almost 2 hours, coated my hands with grime, and made me sweat.

I “waisted” an entire morning.  At times, I felt like a complete fool.  I almost gave up, especially when the plug would not stay in the hole.

But, I completed the task.  I did something that I had never done before.  I did something that some people would consider very, very easy.  I did something that other people would consider very, very hard.  I had plan.  Some of the plan worked, some of the plan did not.  I regrouped, and moved forward.  I looked silly, confident, confused, angry, perplexed and exhilarated.  I worked alone.  I did a good job.  I learned a lot.  I know how to patch a tire.  I know more today than I did yesterday.

As you change your personal finance habits, you will experience many of the same emotions that I experienced today.  The decision that you must make is whether you are willing to go through all that you must go through in order to complete the task.  Are you willing to feel foolish, and silly, and ignorant, in order to become confident, wise, and knowledgeable?   Will you do the dirty work?  Will you laugh at yourself, or will you be too prideful?  Will you look to plan B whenever plan A is not working?  Will you dare to “change” something, today?

1 thought on “A Strange Joy AKA How To Change A Tire And Still Be Happy

  1. Some thoughts:
    a) Sell the compressor (unless you have real things to do with it, like spray painting or air-powered nail guns etc.) and buy yourself a cheap foot pump. Aside from banking the difference, the foot pump can also can be stored in the boot of your car in case you get a flat out on the road.
    b) Check if your car has a spare tyre in the boot (where the tools are). Normally I just put on the spare tyre and take my flat tyre to get professionally patched (with rubber cement etc.) – it costs around $30 here to get a tyre patched.
    c) I’m not sure DIY tyre repair is a good idea. Given that the “plug” you used came out several times before it “took”, just consider what will happen if it comes out what you’re driving at high speed – a blow out?


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