SAFETY: Knowing how to change a tyre is very important

Arriving at Sky City at 9 am, the first group of ladies engaged their host Vuyi Mpofu in a discussion relating to tyre rotation, wheel alignment and wheel balancing.

The first Gals Garage Tyre Safety Workshop of 2021 was held on Saturday 22nd May 2021 and hosted a total of 15 women.

Although all COVID regulations had been taken into account, motoring journalist Vuyi Mpofu, opted to take further precautions by hosting the event over two 4-hour sessions and in different venues, thereby giving guests the added comfort of knowing their health had been taking into consideration.

Supported by Toyota Motors South Africa (TMSA), the May 2021 Gals Garage Tyre Safety Workshop would not only allow guests to simulate a flat tyre scenario but would also afford them the opportunity to test drive any of the Toyota vehicles, being the: Urban Cruiser, one of 2 x Agyas, or the Toyota Starlet.

Arriving at Sky City at 9 am, the first group of ladies engaged their host Vuyi Mpofu in a discussion relating to tyre rotation, wheel alignment and wheel balancing.

Although all were drivers, they were surprised to learn that wheel alignment had more to do with the professional adjustment of a vehicle’s suspension in relation to the angle of the placement of the tyres than it does to have with the actual wheels themselves.

The topic of knowing how to change a tyre soon followed, with a few of the ladies relating personal stories about the inconveniences and dangers of being stuck on the side of the road.

“It used to be safe to ask a stranger to assist you to change your flat tyre but times have changed, so it is to every woman’s benefit and safety to know how to do so yourself”, Vuyi said.

Excited about learning this basic life skill, the ladies gathered around the 2 Toyota Agya vehicles and set about changing a tyre under Vuyi’s watchful and careful instruction.

First, they were tasked with describing how one can identify that all pressure has been lost from a tyre while driving. The most common response was that other drivers would indicate this to them, by using animated gestures!

While that is correct, the better answer which the ladies eventually came around to was a rumbling sound emanating from the wheelbase, or a feeling of uneven weight distribution of the car i.e., (pulling to one side) or loss of control of the car.

In an event of a punctured tyre, the ladies learnt that the vehicle should ideally be parked on as flat a surface as possible with the handbrake engaged and the car either in gear (manual transmission) or in park mode (automatic) to ensure it does not roll away.

In some instances it is advisable to place a brick in front or behind one of the other tyres to further secure it, Vuyi mentioned, but it is imperative that you remove these before you leave so as not to cause damage to another motorist’s vehicle, particularly at night when visibility is generally reduced.

Next, the guests were tasked with identifying the optimal position to place the red reflective triangle which serves as a warning for other motorists. After learning the correct names of each of the tools required to successfully change a flat tyre (wheel spanner, nut lock, car jack, reflective red triangle, spare tyre) the ladies identified the safest location to position the car jack, also known as a ‘jack point.

By running their fingers along the edge of the body of the car, the ladies discovered either one or two jack-points beneath the car.
“It is important to align the jack with the car-jack point. If you jack the vehicle at any other point, the car’s own weight may cause damage to its frame or, the jack may slip off, causing the vehicle to crash to the ground. Either way, this could result in serious injury to yourself and expensive damage to the car,” Vuyi said.

To their immense surprise, the ladies accurately and safety completed the tyre change exercise in less time than they had anticipated. Most could barely believe how simple the task was. “I will never forget the day my children and I nearly spent a night at the side of the road just because I did not know to change a flat tyre. Looking back I feel annoyed with myself because I put us in unnecessary danger yet here I am, doing this simple thing in 20 minutes!” remarked one of the guests.

When it came to test driving the various Toyotas on display, the Starlet proved to be a clear favourite among the ladies. “It is stylish, spacious and quite comfortable to drive,” one guest remarked.

Others commented on the ride quality of the Urban Cruiser and that its raised height was very comforting. “Sitting in a car where I am almost on par with a pedestrian is actually a very nice feeling. Usually, people look down into my car and it can sometimes feel awkward, especially if I am wearing a mini-skirt but in this Cruiser, I feel more dignified,” another said.

“The Agya is much bigger than it looks,” remarked one guest. “When I first glanced at it looked like a ‘toy’ but I drove it out of curiosity and I am quite impressed. I would love to have it as my weekday car because it’s small enough to park anywhere,” she continued.

Many of the ladies expressed appreciation that they had had an opportunity to test drive the Toyota vehicles in the comfort of their own environment because they find car dealerships intimidating. “Some car salesmen can be very pushy especially when they sense you don’t know much about cars,” one lady said.

“I eventually bought the car I have because I didn’t know any better and was too mentally exhausted to shop around. I simply wanted something economical and safe but I still hold a slight grudge against the car brand I drive because I bought something I didn’t fully understand nor want”.

“I am not looking forward to buying a car”, another guest added. “I feel that car salesmen judge women when we walk into dealerships based on their appearance and I am not about to make an extra effort to make a salesman comfortable with my appearance as well as give him my money. These people must just be friendly and not condescending towards women car buyers,” she concluded.