Can Your Teenager Change a Tire?

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Can your teenager change a flat tire?  Or, for that matter, can you?  Alan May's post yesterday about marketing to generation Y got me thinking. (How's that for shiny Alan?)  I am a Baby Boomer (No, that doesn't mean that I'm overly fertile or virile, though some may argue with that, present company excluded).  It just means that I was born between 1946 and 1964.  I was actually born in January of 1964, so I guess that makes me the oldest of the last of the Baby Boomers.  Wow, that sounds terminal.  My youngest of three kids will be 18 next month.  He cannot change a flat tire.  Well, he can now, but he couldn't yesterday.  You see, I failed to teach him how to change a flat tire.  Not on purpose, only because I never had to. 

Last evening when my wife came home, she walked in the house and said "Michael, your left rear tire is flat."  (His real name is Beelzebub, but we call him Michael.)  My heart sank.  What would have happened if he'd had a flat while out on the road somewhere?  He would have been pathetic, sitting there on the side of the road wondering which way the jack-thingy goes in, and what is this puny little tire doing in my trunk? So, I took it upon myself to teach Beelzebub, er, Michael, a lesson in basic automotive mechanics.

I became quite adept at changing tires when I was about his age.  While I was in college, I used to work in Orlando on the weekends, and drive down from Gainesville on Fridays after class.  Like any poor, starving college student, I could not afford good tires.  So, I was on the frequent shopper plan at Big 10 tires, home of the $10 "re-cap".  I'm pretty sure they're illegal now. These things were like a "circle of death".  They generally lasted for no more than a 1000 miles, so, needless to say, I had more than my fair share of blowouts on Friday afternoons, or Sunday evenings.  I got to where I could give a NASCAR crew a run for their money.  Blowout, pull over, change tire, back on the road, elapsed time: two and half minutes, tops. So, I give you the following:

1. Get the vehicle to a safe, preferably level spot, and turn it off.

2. Firmly engage the parking brake.

3. Remove jack, lug wrench, and spare from trunk or wherever yours is stored.

4. Engage jack beneath the frame of the vehicle or along the slot near the wheelwell that the jack is    designed to fit into.

5. Raise the jack to the point where weight is just starting to be taken off the tire/wheel.

6. Loosen the lugnuts with the tire iron/lug wrench, yes, "lefty-loosy". 

7. Jack the car up enough to remove the flat tire, and remove it.

8. Replace with the puny little tire in the trunk.

9. Tighten the lugnuts "finger tight".

10. Lower the vehicle with the jack (that's right - turn the jack handle the opposite way) until there is some weight on the tire.  Not all the way down, just enough to put weight on it.

11. Tighten the lugnuts with the tire iron/lugwrench by alternating opposite lugnuts, this will assure that it gets secured evenly. That's correct, "righty-tighty".

12. Lower the jack the rest of the way.

13. Be on your merry way.

What does this have to do with Baby Boomers and Gen Y'rs?  Only that times have changed.  In many ways, kids have it much easier than we did, but in some ways, it's more difficult for them.  I know I wouldn't trade them.  If I did, I probably wouldn't even know how to change a flat tire.


Thanks.  We shore do 'preciate ya.




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Robert Rauf
HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ) - Toms River, NJ

Mitch, This is the first thing I taught my daughter when she got her first car... I actually had her do it in the driveway ... Education is the key to just about everything, and some hands on education in this case is even more important... because you know if it happens it will be in the dark, when it's raining!!!!

Apr 08, 2011 06:37 AM #1
Heather McCurdy
Prudential Northwest Realty - Kent, WA
Realtor - South Seattle, Kent, Covington, Maple Valley

Great post, Mitch.  I have been a loyal AAA member for years & generally allow them to change my tires.  But, I know how to change one if I need to!  I will put that on the list of things to teach my 12 & 14 year old daughters.

Another key to life: being prepared & knowing who to ask for help when needed!

Apr 08, 2011 06:43 AM #2
Katharine Hilliard
Liberty Title - Birmingham, MI

Hi Mitch,

Great post.  

I am a fellow baby-boomer.  When I was a young girl, my father refused to teach me how to change a tire because I was a girl.  I had to learn it on the streets.  Probably just to be defiant, I also learned to check the oil and other fluids, change the oil filter, spark plugs, etc. 

I was out in the driveway one fine summer evening gapping and changing the spark plugs on my old Ford Escort when the neighbor's boy came over.  He asked why I was working on the car and I simply asked him if he would rather wash dishes or work on the car.  He understood completely.

I did teach my own two girls to write checks, change tires, check the oil and other simple seemingly forgotten skills.  My youngest is now in the Air Force working on engine repair and facilities maintenance.

I think given the choice, I would still rather work on the car than do the dishes.


Kat :)

Apr 08, 2011 06:45 AM #3
Alan May
Coldwell Banker Residential - Evanston, IL
Helping you find your way home.

wow, that's pretty shiny!  (Beelzebub, eh?)

Apr 08, 2011 07:09 AM #4
Mitch Gover - Orlando, FL

Robert - I think I had a case of "Out of sight, out of mind".  You're right about at night in the rain too.  I've had to rescue my daughters more than once.

Heather - AAA is a great organization.  Another sad truth though, is that it seems people are much more reluctant to pull over and help somebody on the side of the road.  We've all heard the stories of "traps" that are set that way.  Sad but true.  Thanks for commenting.

Katherine - Some of life's most valuable skills are learned on the streets.  Thanks to your daughter for her service.  I'm with you on the dishes vs car issue. 

Alan- He's another product of 12 years of Parochial education, so I couldn't resist.  Michael is actually a fine young man.  He makes me and his Momma real proud.   

Apr 08, 2011 07:58 AM #5
Jim Courtney
OklaHomes Realty, Claremore Oklahoma - Claremore, OK

I agree with Robert. When my kids get thier first car (my oldest is 18 and has one) we teach them how to check fluids, change a tire, and do some basic emergency repairs. The cell phone has changed how many people do things including changing a tire. I used to stop on a regular basis to assist the damsel in distress, but when you stop now they wave their cell phone and panic when you get out of the car to assist. :)

Apr 08, 2011 08:38 AM #6
Mitch Gover - Orlando, FL

Jim - Nowadays, the damsel in distress could well have a band of thieves hiding in the nearby bushes. 

Apr 08, 2011 08:44 AM #7
Chris Mayr
D3 Interactive Marketing - Orlando, FL

That reminds me of a girl I knew in high school.  We were studying the invention of dirt as it was still pretty new back then.

She pulled into the parking lot of school with smoke pouring out of the engine.  She was crying and didn't know what to do.  She thought the car was going to burst into flames (a reasonable assumption based on the amount of smoke).  We opened the hood and smoke was coming from everywhere.  We asked her if anything had been done to the car and sure enough, she had poured oil all over the engine.   Through the stitch in my side and tears pouring out of my eyes from laughter, I foolishly asked why.  Her response, "my dad said the car needed me to put a quart of oil in it."

She had assumed that you needed oil on the outside of the engine to make everything go.  Before you doubt, yes she was blond and thankfully she was pretty so she probably has never had trouble getting somebody to help.

Apr 10, 2011 01:58 AM #8
Robert Rauf
HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ) - Toms River, NJ

A blond joke in reality Chris - Thanks for the fun story!

Apr 10, 2011 05:28 AM #9
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