This has been something I’ve dreaded happening – getting a flat tyre while driving and needing to pull over to the side of the road.
It happened and I survived.
It’s the second flat tyre I’ve had with this caravan and was only 4 months ago while driving into a caravan site. Because I was at a holiday park, it meant I had the time to learn how to change the tyre. I also learnt that the spare wheel under the caravan is impossible to get out and I ended up just replacing the flat tyre. I meant to fix the access to the spare wheel… I really did… but time passed.
The second flat tyre was along state highway 2.
Just before it happened, I pulled onto a gravel area to let a couple of cars pass and suspect there might have been something sharp on the ground.
I carried on driving but wondered about a strange sound… It sounded like a loud motorcycle but I was sure there was none when I pulled out. Reaching a flat section of road, I started wondering what else it could be since this motorcycle should have passed by now.
That’s when I clicked and though it might be the tyre. I slowed down and pulled onto the grassy shoulder.
A car pulled up next to me saying he’d been flashing his lights for ages! Funnily enough, that day my side mirror extender kept falling off from the wind and passing trucks. After the second time, I left it on my dashboard. I couldn’t see his flashing lights! Although to be honest, even with the extender mirror I’d only see him if he wasn’t too close. I really wish he’d honked his horn.
You’ll be wondering why it took me so long to click. You’d think it was obvious. It was a blustery day with plenty of hills and corners which makes the car work harder. It was only when I was on the flat that the car felt like it was working too hard.
After swearing for a while, I knew I’d need help as I still couldn’t access the spare wheel.
I called my insurance company (Covi Insurance) and went through to their roadside assistance team. I don’t pay for roadside assistance, so I got a quote for $150 which I happily paid.
They organised for a local guy to drive out.
After my first flat tyre and my failure to access the spare, other UK caravaners mentioned there was a pin I needed to take out first. I had a look and seriously couldn’t figure out where this pin was. Turns out there is one! But you need strength and pliers to pry it out.
There were 2 bolts holding the spare tyre to the metal cage. The second bolt was stuck on and required him to take it to his work and cut it off. There is no way I would have been able to do this by myself.
Once the spare wheel was released, he speedily changed the shredded wheel and oh, it was shredded!
The spare tyre looked a little worn and rusty as I think it hadn’t been touched in 10 years.
The plan was to carry on for another half an hour to Masterton and take the caravan straight to a tyre shop. I’d learnt that these are unusual European tyres that stores don’t normally have in stock – but can be sent for quickly. I planned to come back in two days to have the new tyre put on.
My initial plan had been to drive through Masterton and carry on to Castlepoint beach which was another hour to the coast. But I was cautioned not to risk it since I no longer had a spare tyre.
You might also be wondering why I didn’t get a new tyre before this? I had asked a tyre specialist plus a mechanic and was told it looked ok with enough tread.
One of my fun activities is to browse the NZMCA campground app and save any campgrounds that sound appealing. I’d previously saved the Masterton Showgrounds as a possibly. I drove in, spotted two buses and pulled up next to
(what I guessed) was a power box.
Summer is over and it felt freezing with a dusting of snow on the nearby mountains. I decided to splurge and pay for a powered site as it’s just easier when you’re plugged into the power and my heater runs on the perfect low temperature.
This site might now be one of my favourites. It’s cheap, has lots of space, has water and there’s are lots of old toilets and showers. A relaxing spot to recover from the stress of the day.
I did more damage to the caravan than just the tyre.
When the roadside assistant jacked up the caravan I saw water coming out of a pipe. Crawling under the caravan, I saw that a screw was gone from the grey water pipe connector and one of the pipes had popped out of its corner slots. I was able to pop the pipe back in and screw the connector more firmly onto the caravan, but suspect I need someone with more strength to firmly slot it completely in.
The wheel spat (tyre edging / frame) was also ripped off when the tyre was shredded. It’s made the side of the caravan look very ugly and almost looks like it’s been burnt. Looking online, it won’t be cheap getting a replacement. Possible $200 plus shipping from the UK or I’ll keep looking for an option in New Zealand.
And what I learnt from this miss-adventure? It’s survivable. If I get a flat tyre again, my spare tyre will be in my car boot for easily access, so in theory I should be able to change it myself. Although now that both caravan tyres are new, I am hoping this will never happen again.
Do you have a story about a flat tyre? I’d love to hear in the comments below.