Changing a Flat Tire

Trekker Elijah
May 9, 2022
How many times would this 12-year-old have to change a tire 24 hours? Several, I found out.

I'd like to share a real life story of how I had to apply some recently learned life skills.

Renting a Gold Minivan

Several weeks ago our family was going to go on a road trip to California, so my mom sent our van to the shop to get some repairs done. After a day or two, the people at the repair shop informed us our car wouldn’t be done in time for the trip. Fortunately and unfortunately they had already started to disassemble our car. The only option we could think of was to let the mechanics continue and rent a car. There weren’t any in our small town of Prescott Valley. The closest one we could find on short notice that would accommodate all seven of us was 90 minutes away in Phoenix, which is more than 90 minutes away. We weren't renting from a big company, we were using an app turo. With turo you are renting a person who wants a little more mone y so he rents his car out. Once my mom and I got the keys to the gold Chrysler minivan, we thought all of our problems were solved. Little did we know how many surprises we’d encounter over the next 24 hours.

Typical Tire Change... Almost

On the drive back to Prescott in an unfamiliar vehicle, one of the warning lights flashed. Tire pressure. We pulled over, and sure enough we could easily hear the air escaping. My mom and I were the only ones in the car so I had to change the tire. I had changed a tire once in my life, but that was with my dad's help. I had very little experience. My mom contacted my dad telling him our situation. Then we googled where the spare tire was located and lowered it down, with the tools in the van. Next we located the jack, but shoving the jack into position was far more difficult than we thought. After that I jacked up the car. Thanks to the magic of physics, that’s pretty easy.. The tire nuts were bolted on super tightly. I tried to remove the lug nut for ten minutes in the bitter cold. I tried hitting the wrench with a rock, but the lug nut didn’t budge. I sat on the wrench and jumped up and down, but I slipped off. Finally we both jumped on the nut. I heard the quiet squeak! It was coming off! We put the spare on and lowered the jack. I had no idea that seconds later the spare tire would deflate. It had no air in it! What? A 2nd flat tire to deal with? Yup! My mom called the rental car owner to ask for help.

Inflating the Spare

The owner of our rental car offered to come out with his air compressor and inflate the tire. My mom and I gratefully accepted. The owner came after a few long hours of my mom and I just sitting in the car waiting to get on with the trip. He blew up the tire, and we drove back home.

The Spare Goes Back On

Early the next day my dad went to a tire shop to get the tire patched. He came home to pick us up and quickly load all of our luggage. Our whole family still had a few more things to pack. I went out to the car and I could hardly believe my eyes. The newly repaired tire was flat, flat, flat! For those keeping score, that’s #3 in less than 24 hours.. So I changed the tire again. It was easier this time because I had experience . Us kids went with my mom to another tire shop. The second repair guy said those first people didn’t know what they were doing and so we got the tire repaired, again!


The next day our family started our trip to California a whole day after we had planned to be there, and my dad said if the tire goes flat again we will turn around and drive back home. He was mostly joking, yet we all began to wonder if bad luck would strike yet again. And sure enough, after an hour of driving the gauge showed our tire pressure was dropping. We pulled over on the side of the road to see if this could possibly be true. My dad was in the middle of a business call so I had to change it for the third time! Unfortunately there were no tire shops open on a late friday evening so we couldn't just "fix it" again. We turned around and drove back home.

"Making Lemonade"

Our whole family was extremely bummed out. The trip was meant to just be a long weekend, and we had run out of options. Nevertheless we tried to make the best of the disappointing situation. We fooled around at the arcade of a local family fun center. One of the kids came up with the idea of watching a movie in our rental car. (Our vehicle doesn’t have a DVD player, but this rental did.) The next day we took the rental car to another tire shop and got the tire fixed for the last time. We were very glad when we were finally able to return the rental.

Redeeming the Disappointing Series of Events

All was not lost because I learned something. I acquired a new skill and gained some valuable wisdom.

  • I learned how to change a tire. Before I sorta knew how to change a flat tire, but after this experience I can confidently change one by myself.
  • I was reminded to not count my chickens before they hatch. Just because one thing goes wrong doesn't mean something else bad won't happen immediately.
  • Thankfully, we had decent shoes and charged cell phones. Without those basics, our first flat tire situation would have been a lot worse.
  • I was reminded to be helpful and not complain even when helping is difficult.
Our Kid's Skill Building Journal
Skill building is a life-long endeavor in our family. This journal gives our kids a chance share their stories and lessons learned. Putting pen to paper (so to speak) reenforces not just the skills themselves, but also the mindset and character traits that we strive for.