Road Trip Safety with SheJumps: Trailside Auto Repairs
SheJumps Ambassador, Alicia Mau, teams up with DirtFish to provide helpful guidance on how to change a flat tire and jumpstart a car when you're trailside.
Photo by Ryan French
Have you ever been cruising down a forest road when you hit an unavoidable pot hole? How about getting back to your car after a long hike and it refuses to start? On an otherwise fantastic trip, these can be quick downers for any traveler, but if we prepare ourselves ahead of time they don’t have to completely ruin our day!
As avid adventurers, we often seek remote areas to recreate in. While this provides us with a beautiful way to recharge in the peace and quiet of nature, it can also mean traveling outside of cell service and away from a helping hand. The following article will help you gain the knowledge to be self-sufficient if you find yourself with a flat tire or dead battery while recreating outdoors.
Disclaimer: This guide is not a replacement for following your owner’s manual. Please see your owner’s manual for your vehicle-specific instructions and proceed at your own risk.
Changing a Flat Tire
Video by Ryan French
What You’ll Need
Fully Inflated Spare Tire
Tire Iron/Lug Wrench
Vehicle’s Owner Manual
Slow down and find a safe place to pull over as soon as possible (preferably on a flat surface)
Turn on your hazard lights and place a reflective caution triangle near your car if you have one
Engage the parking brake and turn off the car
If available, find a rock or large stick to wedge behind the tire opposite to the flat to prevent rolling
Remove spare tire, car jack, and tire iron from vehicle and check spare for max mph limit
If applicable, remove hub cap from the flat to expose lug nuts/bolts
Use tire iron to loosen the lugs while tire is still on the ground (one turn is plenty, use foot if needing more leverage)
Check your owner’s manual to find the proper jack points for your vehicle
Slide jack under jack point and begin to crank the jack handle clockwise to raise it up
Ensure proper seating of the contact point between the jack and vehicle, then raise the car until the wheel is about 6 inches off the ground *NEVER put your body under the vehicle while it is jacked up*
Remove the lug nuts/bolts and pull wheel off the hub (keep lugs in a safe place while switching wheels)
Place the spare on the hub and slide wheel holes over the lug bolts or line them up with the lug holes
Hand tighten the lug nuts/bolts back on (being careful not to strip the threads)
Turn the jack handle counterclockwise to lower the vehicle to gently rest on the ground
Use the tire iron to further tighten the lugs in a star pattern using your full weight to tighten
Remove the jack and place all tools and flat back inside the vehicle before heading to a tire technician
Photos by Ryan French
Jumpstarting a Car with Cables
Make sure to check your owner’s manual for instructions on jumping your specific vehicle as newer models may have different steps and contact points. Always follow the instructions from your owner’s manual.
Photo by Ryan French
What You’ll Need
A second working vehicle
Bring the working vehicle close enough to your car for the jumper cables to reach between the two batteries
Turn off both vehicles and engage parking brakes
Pop the hoods of both vehicles and locate the batteries
Locate the negative and positive terminals. They may be color coded with positive being red, or labeled “POS”, or “+”. The negative terminal (-) will be black
Carefully connect the red handled clamp of the jumper cables to the positive terminal of the dead battery and then the opposite red handled clamp to the positive terminal of the working battery
Keep the metal part of the clamps away from each other when you are connecting the batteries. If they touch this can cause a spark. Always defer to your owner’s manual for your specific vehicle’s proper order of connecting and connection locations for the jumper cables
Connect the black handled clamp to the negative terminal of the working battery and the second black clamp to a piece of unpainted metal or grounding spot of the dead car (away from the dead battery)
Turn the working car on, then turn on the car with the dead battery
If the car doesn’t start, allow the working vehicle to run for five minutes and try again
Once the vehicle with the dead battery starts, do not turn the vehicle off
Carefully remove all clamps in the reverse order they were placed
Latch the hoods and stow gear
Try to drive the jumped vehicle for at least 15 minutes before turning it off again
Jumpstarting a Car with a Jump Starter Battery Pack
Pro-tip: If you want to be completely self sufficient in jump starting your vehicle, a great tool to have in your car is a jump starter battery pack. These are very straightforward to use and eliminate the need for another vehicle to help you get back on the road. The video below shows how to use one of these jump starter battery packs.
Video by Ryan French
Join SheJumps Women's Car Control Clinic at Pacific Raceways
For hands-on experience changing a flat, jumpstarting a car, or putting on chains, join SheJumps on December 19th for SheJumps' Women’s Car Control Clinic! This full day course will teach you how to have confidence driving in tricky conditions and handling whatever bumps you may come across on your next adventures. You can register for SheJumps' Car Control Clinic at Pacific Raceways here.
SheJumps is an inclusive organization. We welcome all women and girls (transgender and cisgender) as well as non-binary people who identify with the women’s community. SheJumps strives to be an ally in the fight against racism and acknowledges that our events and programs take place on traditional, unceded Indigenous lands.