Survivalist Tip: Yesterday I discussed the importance of maintaining the integrity of the tires on your vehicle. In the event you should have to change a tire, of course, you’ll a tire jack. And, just like a vehicle without good tires, a vehicle without a solid car jack is akin to eating pizza with low-fat cheese. Why bother? Your vehicle should come equipped with a tire jack. If it doesn’t, you got jacked (pun intended) and need to buy one. It’s bad enough changing a flat or disintegrated tire; changing one in the midst of the chaos at the start of the new Baktun will be especially hazardous. Regardless, safety is important. So, while a member of your posse stands nearby with a shotgun to fight off any politicians, reality TV show stars, or other lower-than-pond-scum forms of life that might survive, here are some safety tips for operating a basic tire jack.
- Most tire jacks are hand-operated, scissor types that fold up and fit neatly beneath the front seat. Others are hydraulic, lever-operated. Although they’re more expensive, I recommend purchasing a hydraulic jack. You don’t want to expend too much energy pumping a hand-operated one. You’ll have enough trouble keeping the kids and pets under control.
- Sometime before December 21, do a test run of your jack to make certain that it functions properly and that you know what you’re doing. This includes making certain all of the jack’s parts are thoroughly lubricated. Using your vehicle owner’s manual, learn to identify the crank, ratchet or lever. (If you’re getting sexually aroused at this point, you’re losing focus and probably will die when the apocalypse hits.)
- Make certain the vehicle is on a relatively flat surface, away from traffic.
- Shift automatic vehicles into park. Shift manual vehicles into reverse or first gear. Engage the emergency brake.
- Immobilize the vehicle, either with a brick, a steel wedge, or the head of the most uncooperative member of your group.
- Place the jack base flat on firm ground. Find the part of the jack that connects to the vehicle’s frame. This part is flat and usually circular-shaped. The area beneath the vehicle where it fits is often an indentation that is slightly larger than the jack part. In other vehicles, it’s just a large equally flat part of the undercarriage. (If you’re confused, take a deep breath and get hold of yourself.)
- After the vehicle is lifted a few inches, remove the wheel cover and loosen the lug nuts. After lifting it a few more inches, remove the bad tire and replace it with the spare. Replace the lug nuts and tighten them securely. Trying to loosen or tighten lug nuts manually is the most strenuous part of changing a tire, so I recommend buying a battery-operated lug nut tool.
- Lower the vehicle back to the ground and store the jack properly.
As I’ve stated several times before, your vehicle may be your life line away from danger or greedy in-laws. A tire jack is just one of the many assets to ensure a safe drive. Besides, it makes a great disciplinary tool for anyone in your crew who gets out of line.