ROAD SAFETY ARTICLE

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Do You Have a Tyre Inflator

By Jonas Agwu

How would you feel if you planned to leave very early in the morning for work or embark on a trip only to discover you have a flat tyre? What would be your reaction if   you also discover that your spare tyre is equally flat or your jack is faulty, and being early in the morning, there is no vulcanizer to help fix the problem. How frustrated would you be?

What if the above scenario happens when you have already driven out and in an isolated and dangerous spot or perhaps in the night? What if it happens to a medical personnel on an emergency, a couple on their way to their wedding? What if it happens to a school bus conveying children to or from school and the driver who is without an assistant abandons the children in the vehicle in search of a vulcanizer? What if it happens to an ambulance conveying a sick person whose life depends on how fast treatment is administered or to a security patrol vehicle on an emergency assignment? What if it happens to a lady and she is all alone?

The above scenario is no mere supposition or fiction. It happens every day and it could happen to you even if your tyres are just out from the factory and filled with the best tyres sealant in the world! The cause could be either a tiny puncture or a leaking valve stem. So how can you save your time, life and valuables in the event of such happening to you? There is only one way and that is to ensure that you always carry a compact tyre inflator that you can power from the cigarette lighter of your vehicle to pump the flat tyre.

I am sure you are curious to know how the inflator can save your time. To address your curiosity, let us consider the steps you need to take to change to a spare tyre; see how much time this will take and then compare these with the steps you need to take to utilize the tyre inflator and see how much time is involved.

Let’s number the various steps needed to change to a spare tyre so we can get a clearer picture of what is involved; (1) you will need to bring out your jack (hoping it works) and (2) the nut driver (spanner) or ratchet. (3) you will need to bring out your spare tyre. This may not be easy depending on where and how it is stored in your vehicle and you could also be unfortunate to discover that the spare tyre is equally flat since most people hardly check to see the condition of the spare before driving.

 If you don’t have wheel blocks in your vehicle (4) you will need to  look around for something you can use to block the two tyres (front and back) farthest from the flat tyre so as to prevent the vehicle from rolling as you jack it up. (5) you need to remove the hub cap first before you can have access to the wheel nuts. The wheel nut on the flat tyre have to be unscrewed, half way first and then fully when the vehicle is jacked up. Your wheel will normally have about five nuts and removing each is taken a step so this means further five steps (6,7,8,9,10). Note that some nuts can prove very stubborn to remove, (11) you need to locate the proper sport under the vehicle to place the jack and this might not be easy to locate (12) then comes the actual jacking up of the vehicle and you might discover that when fully operated, the jack has not given the vehicle enough ground clearance to remove the flat tyre.

 So you (13) jack it down and (14) look for objects to place under the jack to support the height (15) again you jack it up. When enough clearance has been gotten, you now fully unscrew the five nuts which will be another five steps (16,17,18,19,20). After removing the nuts (21) remove the flat tyre and (22) then go for the spare, (23) you need to properly guide the spare tyre through the studs to click it in position. Having done that, you screw the five nuts back halfway first (another five step 25,25,26,27,28) and then (29) jack down the vehicle. With the vehicle fully jacked down, you now screw the five nuts tight which requires another five more steps (30,31 32 33,34). It is now time to (35) remove the jack ,(36) pack it, (37) store away the flat tyre and (38) remove the blocks placed on the two tyres to prevent the vehicle from rolling. Process complete. You are now free to drive off.

You can see that there are about 38 steps involved in changing to a spare tyre. How much time and manual work do you think the whole process will take? Assuming each step takes more than one minute, you will be spending about 38 minutes. Remember you are not a professional vulcanizer so it could take you longer time.

Let us now look at the process involved in using the tyre inflator. All you need to do is simply (1) take the inflator from your booth or pigeon hole, (2) connect the plug to the cigarette lighter of your car and (3) then chuck to the valve stem of the flat tyre (remember the flat tyre is not removed) (4) start you engine and (5) switch on the inflator. In about five minutes, your tyre is inflated and (6) disconnect the chuck (7) disconnect the plug, (8) pack the inflator and off you go. The process of connecting (2,3) and disconnecting/packing (6,7 & 8) the inflator will not take more than a minute! The pumping time is about five minutes so in all you be spending about seven minutes.

Now compare the 38 minutes you will spend to change to a spare tyre and the seven minutes on the inflator and you will see that the inflator will be saving you more than 80% on time. Not only that, the amount of manual work you do with inflator is very negligible compared to changing to a spare tyre. Anybody, including women, can use the inflator without a single drop of sweat.

You second curiosity is how can the inflator save your life? The longer you stay on the road fixing a flat tyre, the more you increase your chance of being robbed, kidnapped and hit by a careless motorist. If the flat tyre is on the driver’s side (front or back) when you bend down to change to a spare, you are exposing yourself to traffic and risk being crushed. In changing to a spare tyre, your hands are engaged all the way and full attention is required so you would hardly know when danger is looming until it is too late.

What if an ambulance carrying a sick person has to spend about 38 minutes on the way changing to spare tyre when time is of essence to the survival of the sick person? What if it happens to a medical personnel on an emergency call or security patrol on an emergency assignment? There was a situation when a school bus loaded with children was stranded in an isolated spot because of flat tyre and the driver left the children there in search of vulcanizer. You can imagine what could have happened to those children; a vehicle could have run onto them and crush them or kidnappers could have some easy catch there.