Don't ever say it won't happen to you. Statistics show that the average person will have 5 flat tires in their lifetime. That means you will have a flat and it is best to be prepared for it.
I've seen people stuck on the side of the road with no spare, no jack or lug wrench and no cell phone. What if you get stranded down a far out, little traveled country raod at night? You will be stranded for a long time. That is something we want to avoid. So here's a checklist of what to have with you at all times in your car:
1) spare tire - this may sound mundane, but many people out their are driving on their spare and take a big risk.
2) jack and lug wrench - many people never check to see if these items are in their car. Its a fact that half of the used cars purchased in the U.S. do not have all the tools necessary for a proper tire change. Also make sure you have a lug wrench that fits your car. This may sound stupid, but when I worked at a car dealership if the car didn't have a lug wrench and the customer wanted one, they just took one out of any car and put it in (never looking to see if it would fit the lugs on the car in question). If you have wheel covers you may need a large screwdriver to pop off the wheel cover (some lug wrenches have this as one of their ends).
3) lock adapter - many people get the chrome, alloy wheels and have a lug lock installed so they can't easily be stolen. Just, never lose the lock adapter or you won't be able to change that tire without having the car towed to a car dealership where they'll have to cut off and replace the lug spindle (a very costly experience).
4) Flares and reflectors - you have to be safe. If you have a flat in a hard to see area you want to warn other drivers of your predicament so you don't have a worse predicament. Also, pack a flashlight and extra batteries for night use - all the tools in the world won't help if you can't see (regularly change the batteries once a year).
Now, for safety, when a flat occurs you need to pull safely off the road. If on a busy interstate drive slowly until you are in a safe and relatively flat spot. Put your car in park and put on the emergency brake.
Place reflectors or flares so as to give adequate warning to other drivers. This spacing will be different depending on whether you are in hilly curves or on a straightaway.
Place the jack under the car on the jack mount area This is a area specially designed for your jack and is covered in the owners manual.
Loosen all of the nuts and then crank the jack until the tire is several inches off the ground. Remove the nuts and wheel. Place the spare on and tighten each lug finger tight to make the whel flush.
Lower the jack so the wheel can't turn and tighten all nuts with the lug wrench. Then completely lower the jack and remove. Drive to your nearest auto service station and have your flat replaced or repaired and reinstalled. This is essential as many spares are not full spares and aren't as safe.
David Maillie is an alumni of Cornell University and specializes in automotive safety products and information including his patented headlight cleaner and restorer. For more information please visit: MDWholesale.com