Can You Change a Tire?

I strolled out in the yard Sunday night to hitch up for Monday’s ride, only to discover my trailer had a flat tire.  Undeterred, I dragged out all my tools and put the spare on the flat tire’s axle.  I was lucky this time–I wasn’t in a hurry, and I was in my front yard without worrying about being on the side of the road with the horse on board.

Most of my friends are solo women trailering their horses, and I wonder how many of them are prepared for a tire issue.  Do they have a road service, the tools to take care of the problem themselves, and/or the skills and strength to handle it? What if there’s no cell phone coverage and they can’t call for help?  Or–and it has happened–they come back to the trailer to find somebody has stolen a wheel?

All of us need to consider whether to get a roadside assistance service like U.S. Rider.  Many services, like AAA, will not touch trailers.

And tools:  if you don’t already have one, get a 4-way lug wrench with LONG handles.  The length gives you greater torque to break those uber-tight lug nuts loose. Add a 2-foot or longer length of pipe that can fit over the end of your lug wrench–if a lug is super tight, that pipe may give you enough leverage to break it loose.  A can of penetrant so you can spray a rusted lug can help.  Once the lugs are all loose, you’ll need to get that tire off the ground.  Do you know how to use the jack, or are you able to move your trailer onto a “trailer aid” such as pictured below?  Use a tire gauge to ensure your spare actually has enough air to get you where you need to go–and if it doesn’t, carry a portable air compressor (inexpensive, and plugs into your vehicle) to top it off.  Consider using locking lug nuts (just one per tire will work) on each tire and the spare to prevent theft–but remember where you place the unlocking key!

And finally, that visual inspection EVERY TIME you use your trailer (even after a ride before returning home) can save you and your horse a world of scare.  Check not just for tire pressure, but cracks–most of our trailer tires die of rot long before the tread wears out. Tire pressure can fluctuate wildly, especially when there are rapid temperatures shifts like we experience in winter. Just remember that you need to check tire pressure when the tires are cold, not after a long drive.

Stay safe, and happy trails!

tire changing

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