American Towman Magazine - September 2022

Page 22

notify your dispatcher and document your paperwork accordingly. If the vehicle is equipped with a temporary spare tire, inform the customer of any distance and speed restrictions. According to the AAA, approximately 30 percent of new vehicles are not equipped with a spare tire. These vehicles are either equipped with an inflator kit or tires designed to drive short distances with no air. Another option available now is a universal spare tire that will fit many different types of makes and models of vehicles. These would have to be carried on your truck, and you would have to follow the customer to a repair facility to retrieve your universal spare.


The disabled vehicle should be in placed in park (automatic transmission) or in low gear (standard transmission) and the parking brake set. Use wheel chocks to secure the wheel that is not flat, on the opposite side, and diagonally across from the flat tire. If the vehicle is equipped with an air-suspension system, the manufacturer may require the system be shut off during flat tire service. Use the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended jack location to place your floor jack for lifting the flat tire off of the ground. (Putting a floor jack in a location that is not recommended by the manufacturer can cause extensive damage to the vehicle.) Recommended jacking locations can usually be found on a sticker located with the spare tire. Never get under a vehicle that is supported by only a floor jack. Loosen the lug nuts on the flat tire before lifting the vehicle with the floor jack. Some vehicles are equipped with hub caps that have fake lug nuts or lug nut covers. These have to be removed to gain access to 22 • September 2022 |

the real lug nuts. Wear gloves when performing flat tire service. Hand injuries can otherwise be caused by steel belts wearing through the rubber tread, pieces of glass or a nail embedded in the tire tread. Use good lifting technique when removing the spare tire from its storage location, and when lifting If your operation handles a lot of flat-tire service calls, consider adding the spare tire an air tank or air compressor with an air transfer hose to your tow truck. to install it on hub cap tool to ensure the hub cap is the wheel hub. When installing the installed correctly. spare tire on the hub use the lug On some vehicles the flat tire may wrench, a jack handle or a pry bar not fit in the storage space where the as a secondary lever to assist you in spare tire was located. For example, lifting the spare tire into position. the 2010 to 2013 Acura ZDX is Start the lug nuts by hand to equipped with a spare tire bag and ensure that you have not cross securing strap so the flat tire can be threaded the lug nut, and then use placed in the bag and secured in the the lug wrench to slightly tighten. cargo area using tie downs in the Tighten the lug nuts securely once floor. the vehicle is lowered to the ground. Some vehicles have lug bolts Some manufacturers required a instead of lug nuts, and may require specific amount of torque to ensure special lug bolts for the spare tire the spare will not loosen. Most versus the lug bolts used on the tow trucks are not equipped with flat tire. This is common on many a torque wrench and the specific Mercedes and BMW models. Using amount of torque required might the wrong lug bolts can cause not be available to you. Refer the damage. customer to a qualified mechanic to Tow operators must be properly have the lug nuts torqued correctly equipped and well informed to and to have the flat tire repaired. provide flat tire service safely and Some tow companies have a without damage. Take advantage of policy of not reinstalling the hub cap the wealth of information available on the spare tire due to the liability. on the internet, the vehicle owner’s It’s better to follow company policy, manual, and in industry publications but the customer might insist that the to stay informed on flat tire service. hub cap be reinstalled. If the spare is They will save you a lot of time and a temporary tire, the hub cap may frustration, and prevent damage to not fit securely. If you do reinstall the the vehicle—and, more important, hub cap, make sure to use the proper the tow operator.