Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

One of our female officers called in as the shift was starting to report that she was taking the day off for an emergency.

Sergeant asked her what the emergency was. Officer told him that her car had a flat tyre and neither her boyfriend nor her father were going to be able to change it before the end of shift.

Long silence.

Sergeant tells the officer to bloody well change the tyre herself. Officer replies that she doesn’t know how.


Fortunately, an admin-type officer was free, he drove a cruiser out to her house, sat on the hood of the cruiser and said, “First, get in the car and set the parking brake. Good. Now, open the trunk and look for the spare. Yes, you. It’s probably going to be under the carpet. Yes, you are. Then get some gloves, I’ll be sitting here when you get back …”

She now knows how to change a tyre.

The thing that blows my tiny little mind is that she’s not alone — there are at least three other officers of the distaff persuasion who not only admit to not having a clue as to the business end of a lug wrench, but have firmly stated that tyre changing is a duty of the men in their lives.


When did helplessness become the “in thing”?

Ladies — for God’s sake, learn how to change a tyre, okay?

Gentlemen — be sure that the ladies in your lives are able to change a tyre, okay?



49 thoughts on “Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.”

  1. ‘Dog,
    I couldn’t agree more! I may not have known anything else about car maintenance, but I by Chris knew how to change a tire. My Daddy DID see to that. And I taught BOTH my Offspring. I didn’t assume that because he had a “Y” chromosome, my son knew how to change a tire. When my XX offspring got her tire changing lesson, he got his at the same time. They helped each other loosen and then tighten the lug nuts. Personally, I think tire changing should be part of Driver’s Ed.

  2. I’m very proud to say that not only can my wife change a tire, she can rebuild the engine on an 1983 Dadge Ram. I know. I’ve seen her do it.

  3. My wife wasn’t allowed to get her Dl until she could change the tire, check the air and all fluids in the car.

  4. It’s hard enough to convince wimmen to check their oil once in a while, much less change a tire! My sister has burned up three car engines (that I know of) in the last five years. Each and every one had nary a drop of oil remaining in the crankcase. Maybe basic car maintenance and emergency procedures should be included in drivers’ license exams.

  5. I’m sorry, but it is NOT that simple.

    Er… let me back up for a second. Okay, it is absolutely pathetic that this woman didn’t know, and further was unwilling to even attempt, to change her tire. And a copchick, to boot.

    But if she had said she couldn’t, that would be another matter entirely. I don’t know what kind of cars y’all drive down in Texas but everything sold up here, whether it’s plastic fantastic from Asia or Motor City, the wheels get put on at the factory using a pneumatic wrench capable of generating more torque than King Kong with a hydrospanner. They AIN’T comin’ off by the side of the road, not with any amount of muscle power you or I can generate.

    How do I know this? Because I once blew out the starboard-side front tire on my 1999 Chevy Prism, and I don’t mean “went flat” I mean “Had a hole big enough to put my fist in.” I got the car jacked up, and I got the lugnuts off just fine. But that wheel was not coming off – I crushed the fender trying. When I finally got it to an auto shop, the only way they could get it off was by banging on it with a ten pound sledge. And while I was waiting, they did the exact same thing to three other cars.

    If you get a flat, unless you KNOW you can change the tire because you’ve done it once already, just call Triple-A or a tow truck. That’s what you’ll end up doing anyway, so at least your car will still be intact with all lugnuts present when it gets there, and you’ll still have your sanity.

  6. I’ve had problems with over-tightened lugnuts before. In my case it was the ones holding the spare on the back of my Rodeo. I was able to hold all 280lbs of myself off the ground pushing down on the tire iron. Ended up bending the tire iron and still not getting the lugnut to budge. That said, there’s no excuse for not knowing how to change a tire.

  7. PubliusCicero
    But if she had said she couldn’t, that would be another matter entirely. I don’t know what kind of cars y’all drive down in Texas but everything sold up here, whether it’s plastic fantastic from Asia or Motor City, the wheels get put on at the factory using a pneumatic wrench capable of generating more torque than King Kong with a hydrospanner. They AIN’T comin’ off by the side of the road, not with any amount of muscle power you or I can generate.

    I’m not so sure about that. On every single one of the cars I’ve driven, I’ve been able to remove the lug nuts with some degree of force and change the tire in a few minutes. That includes a 1982 Volvo 240, a 2003 Honda Insight, a 1992 Mercedes 300D (big honkin’ turbodiesel car), and a 2006 Toyota Camry.

    Indeed, with the Honda, a tire went flat when I was on the way to class. I started timing as soon as I pulled over in a safe spot. In less than four and a half minutes the tire was changed and the car was back on the road with the laughably small spare.

    Even so, there’s a difference between “not knowing how to change a tire” and “not being able to”. I have no illusions about 85 year old grandmothers having difficulty with changing a tire. But a relatively young, presumably fit police officer — regardless of sex — should know how to and be perfectly capable of changing the tire on their personal vehicle.

    Even if they didn’t know how, it’s all described in the owner’s manual.

    I hardly expect people to be able to perform more than trivial preventative maintenance (e.g. checking fluids, air pressure, etc.) on their vehicles — modern cars are complex machines with complicated mechanisms, computers, etc. However, I do expect people to be able to perform that preventative maintenance and basic fixing of problems (filling of washer fluid, keeping tires inflated to the prescribed temperature, changing tires, etc.). After all, they did fork over a hefty chunk of change for the vehicle, and I’d hope they’d have the slightest interest in keeping it running.

    Just my $0.02, of course.

  8. There is an owners manual and ao diagrams in the trink for changing a tire.

    Many times people (male and female) just refuse to do it.

    They will wait for a spouse, AAA or a tow truck even at the expense of their own safety.

    I have encountered over tightened lug nuts. Bouncing up and down on the lug wrench just snapped off two lugs. Ended up buying a torque wrench and a socket to fit for each car I own in lieu of the sloppy cheap lug wrench supplied in the car.

  9. I would have been too embarrassed to admit that to anyone – much less my coworkers. Changing a tire isn’t rocket science. I guess I’m just lucky…I grew up owning an old muscle car. That V8 would pass everything but a gas station…but it had a tendency to eat alternators and starters. Being a teen, I didn’t have the money to pay a mechanic, so I’d buy the parts and fix whatever crapped out on it myself. One of these days I’m going to buy another old muscle car, put it in the garage and restore it. Even though cars today are so computerized it’s almost impossible to work on them yourself, I’d still like my daughter and my son to know the workings of an engine like I did growing up.

    As far as changing tires today on new cars, we’ve had a flat on our Explorer and husband’s 05 Mustang. There was no problem getting the tires off of either…

  10. Back when we were first married, my wife had a Dodge “Asspain”. All of the hubcaps were gone (she taught in Newark, NJ), and the lug nuts were frozen on. Just used a two-foot piece of pipe as an “extender” to the lug wrench. Yes, did this with a friend’s old car which had been stored in a barn for four years and we snapped off at least one lug nut on each wheel. OldeForce

  11. Not only will my daughter learn how to change a tire, the oil and basic maitenence on her car, my son will never depend on a woman to keep him in clean cloths and a decent meal. PubliusCicero, I have never had a problem changing my tires. I use a 5 foot pipe to bust any lug nuts giving me trouble.

  12. Hmmm….well, I’ve never denied being a member of the Anal Retentive Brigade, so with every car I’ve had – new or used – as soon as it hits my driveway it gets the end-to-end checkover. Fluids, lights, belt tension, everything important tight, nothing loose or hanging off, spare, jack, wrench, etc. This includes, BTW, loosening and retightening the lug nuts on all 4 wheels; I’d prefer to discover a cross-threaded lug nut that’s impossible to remove on a sunny afternoon in my driveway than by the side of the road in the rain at 2 AM, or that the lug wrench is the wrong one for the car or the jack doesn’t work.

    Before using the car for any distance I put my emergency and support gear in it, which includes a 1/2 inch Craftsman T-bar wrench handle, a 3″ extension, and a deep 6-point impact socket of the right size for the lug nuts. Easier to use, and usually longer, than the factory lug wrench. There’s also a piece of 1 1/4″ galvanized pipe the length of the wrench handle (the wrench sits inside the pipe, no extra space requried) as an extension handle, just in case. There’s also a 15″ X 15″ piece of double thickness 3/4″ plywood under the passenger seat (that Gorilla Glue is great). Here in Florida it’s all sand, so unless you want to bury the jack in it, you’ll need something for support while you jack the car up.

    The ex- could have any car she wanted, but knew she was required to demonstrate “roadside self suffiency” with it before the kids could go anywhere in it, despite having a AAA card. That included tire changing, battery jumping, fluids checks, etc. She might not have had to change a tire herself, but knowing how, she could talk a Good Samaritan through it. It always used to amaze me how many of our friends – both husbands and wives – didn’t have this basic knowlege.

    And, yes, the first thing I do with a rental car is check to make sure the jack, wrench and spare are in the trunk and the spare has air.

    I’ve never thought “plan” was a four-letter word…..

  13. I dont have a problem with her thinking that it is her boyfriends job, it is, sorta like mowing the lawn. But she should know and be able to do it when he is not there. And if she does not, why dont she have AAA?

  14. Not only can my wife change a tire, she can also rebuild a 76 Camaro. She can also kit, sew and shoot. As Robert Heinlein said “Specialization is for insects.”

  15. I helped a woman change a flat on the interstate the other day. She had the jack under the vehicle, lug nuts off, and was about to change the tire. Unfortunately, the over-engineered jack wasn’t in the right place and one good gust of wind would have been a disaster.

    Read the instructions before starting. Mandate practice and keep the spare full of air.

  16. I have often wondered how folks could stand to go through life ignorant of such simple things…

  17. Equal rights means equal treatment!

    Get off the duff end and do what you need to do. If you don’t know how to do something, then ask or better yet, at least TRY to do it yourself. This what I have told my wife. She can now change the tires on her car or my truck. Her motorcycle is a different issue. She has also changed the oil in her car, and will be winterizing it, herself, thsi weekend. I’m very proud of her for this, consiered her earlier attitude of being a part of the female sex.

    The Pagan Blacksmith

  18. WHOA! I have known how to change a tire and charge a battery SINCE I LEARNED HOW TO DRIVE! And no man ever taught me how to do it, thankyouverymuch. My husband is proud of me for knowing how to do it.

    Of course, that hasn’t stopped men from throwing themselves at the situation, convinced I didn’t know what I was doing, or convinced that my 5’2 frame couldn’t lift the tire. Half the time, the random ‘chivalrous’ stranger arrives after I’m tightening the nuts on the spare.

    Shame on your coworker for not knowing how to do it, for not being able to read THE MANUAL that came with her car, and most of all, for expecting the men in her life to do it for her.

  19. My Dad wouldn’t let me take my Driver’s Test until I could change a tire, jump-start the battery, check all the fluids, and change the oil.

    The knowledge has saved my bacon on more than one occasion. I taught my kids the same stuff when they started driving.

  20. I learned how to change a tire when learning how to drive, but aside from the one demonstration change, I don’t think I have ever managed to get through a tire change without a man jumping in to assist. (Lawdog will undoubtedly know that Texas men often are quick to jump in situations like this, though expecting assistance is bad manners)

    A roommate of mine in college and I were on a road trip when my tire went flat. She jumped out quickly and said let her handle it. She got the tire changed before a helpful male could even stop, much less lend a hand. Now she was NOT the sort you would expect to change a tire voluntarily, much less with NASCAR pit crew type speed. She had to fess up that her driver’s ed teacher refused to pass anyone that could not change a tire. He countered the ususal arguments of call a tow truck or AAA, with you are on a deserted country road, you are out of cell phone range and there are no houses around and you have a flat tire. Then he demanded time trials with …You are on a country road, out of cell phone range, no houses, a flat tire and a drunk/erratic driver coming toward you.

  21. Homer, I go one step farther, I make sure and coat every single stud with nev-r-sieze to prevent them from ever freezing up due to rust. I’ve found that if you’ve properly torqued them they do not back off.

  22. PubliusCicero, you said “I got the car jacked up, and I got the lugnuts off just fine. But that wheel was not coming off”??

    Only time I’ve had trouble with that was an old car with the wheels rusted to the brake drum.

  23. If I may, I am not sure if this is a male or female oriented problem. I think it begins with standards in getting a drivers license.

    You get the license understanding the rules of the road (hopefully) but are provided nor required to have any understanding of the multi ton vehicle you are driving. The exception would be class A licenses for truck drivers. I’ve heard you are more likely to be killed in a car than in a plane but having received a pilot’s license I can say that you must have a very thorough understanding of the mechanics of the plane before you are ever allowed to fly one.

    Some countries have very strict standards that vehicles must fall into, being both mechanically sound and undamaged. I’m always shocked to see cars with broken windows, missing gas caps, sans working brakes going down the road.

    My personal feeling is that one must understand the mechanics of the entire vehicle long before one is ever provided a drivers license. I think it should be a mandated requirement in every state and I believe it should be enforced. If you cream into the back of someone’s car because your car has worn brakes or slide on click roads because you are driving with worn tires I think the book outta be thrown at you. If driving truly is a responsibility and not a right then we need to reassess our standards.

  24. Thank God, my woman can change a tire. And a serpentine belt. And an alternator. And brake pads. And….

  25. … ‘snot like it’s complicated or anything …

    Is it possible your cow-orker just wanted a day off?

  26. This is another case of someone wanting superior treatment not equal treatment.

  27. Its is a common thing these days. But my dad made sure (before I actually got to get my license in fact) that I could change a tire, replace the oil, and do the basic “Oh Shit!” repairs on my car. Now if given an option… I will confess to bribery with baked goods and real food (you would be amazed what a group of single men will do for home made venison stew, fresh baked bread, and a hot plate of brownies!) when push comes to shove I can deal. Mom made sure my brother could do his laundry and darn his clothes as well. He can also make a mean red sauce as well.

  28. I second (and third, etc) several other posters. I had to change a tire on my family’s 1970 GMC station wagon (talk about a HEAVY car) and do all the fluids before my dad would let me get a driver’s liscense. (This was in the days before cell phones, of course, but the princlple is the same = universal coverage isn’t really universal, after all.)

    And the Marine!Goth actually thanked me once that I’d taught him how to do laundry, iron his shirts and sew. It seems he’s now the ‘go to’ guy for sewing on patches in the baracks. He hasn’t bought his own pizza for weeks *G*.

  29. Being a driver, I do know how to do the basics, such as change a tire. However, I dislike doing it and will only do my own work in a pinch. Otherwise, I pay someone to do it. To me, it’s a worthwhile expense.

    Motomama (F)

  30. Will she back you up in a tussle? The female deputies in my old department would/could not.
    I have changed tires for old men who I felt were beyond having to deal with that stuff, and I still do it for “helpless” women.
    BTW, my two daughters ( and two sons)have the skills to do this and more. It’s my responsibility to teach them how.

  31. My step daughters have had to instruct some “relly cool” surfer types on how to change a flat. The wild part is the guy’s weren’t even embarased.

  32. According to the overwhelming responses you’ve received, seems many daddy’s assured their little girls learned basic vehicle maintenance. I know my daddy certainly did. By the way, I always keep a can of Fix-A-Flat in my trunk just in case (dressed up, lug is too tight, on a dirt road, etc) until I can get to a tire center or level ground.

  33. Pardon, I should have written “daddies.” (Iyz is educated). Additionally, I have dear, afflicted girlfriends with PhDs that can’t change light bulbs – no kidding.

  34. Currently, my fourteen year old daughter and I are changing the head gasket on an 83 Accord that she’ll be driving in about a year and a half. She’s eager to work on it every evening as soon as I get home from work.
    She and her brother changed the brake pads on my Camry (under my supervision) a couple of months ago and it’s her turn to change the oil next month. She wants to be an auto mechanic.
    Before I met her, my wife used to work on her mom’s station wagon and even changed the starter.

  35. One would think that tire changing would be somewhere in the copchick training program.

    How appropriate though the flat tire got the best of her and she had to call a male officer for back-up. It’s a wonder she hadn’t pumped a half a dozen rounds into it by the time he got there. Or filed a discrimination suit against it or something.

  36. Good posts all around! The original example was more than a little surprising, but it goes to show there’s always something more to learn. Oh, and I do know how to change a tire. I even know where to set the jack so I don’t wrench the body off the frame. 🙂

  37. Just before cell phones became a must have item I was driving home late one night from a friends house and took a wrong turn. While I was crossing an infamous drawbridge, I heard my tire pop. I drove as far I could hoping to reach a not too far away military base to seek assistance. Instead I had to stop a mile from the base and across from a waste treatment facility on one side of the highway and a shady neighborhood on the other.
    I was all might and bravado as I know how to change a tire and walked around the car with my hazard lights on. I can do this! I grabbed the jack, cranked up my 1984 Toyota Corolla, grabbed the tire iron and went to twist. Those nuts were not going to give. I wrenched, I cursed and tried standing on the tire iron to get those nuts to budge. Nothing..
    Here’s what gets my goose. I watched four police cruisers drive past me along with other several cars slowing down, inspecting and then speeding off.
    I gave up an hour and half later, and drove on the rim trying to reach the military base. I instead managed to pull off the road next to a parked SUV. With no sense for my safety I knocked on the car window. I interrupted a soldier engaging with a lady of the night. He was kind enough to help me with the lug nuts and help get the donut on the car.
    To make my long story short. I was willing, somewhat able to change my tire, but I can’t fight the might of an pneumatic wrench.

  38. Add the following items to your emergency kits:

    Heavy rubber mallet
    4-way lug wrench
    penetrant spray (the flammable kind)

    Those of you with wheels rusted to the hubs, beat it a few times with the mallet (also handy for moving sheetmetal after an accident). The 4-way lug wrench lets you put much more pressure on lugs without adding a sideways force. And penetrant spray is self explanatory… the flammable part is because it’s real handy if you’re stranded and need to stay warm and all that’s around is wet wood.

    For those with severely stuck and rusted lug nuts, when was the last time you tweaked them to break the rust up?

  39. Don’t know if it is more disappoinring or not. But as a female, I have taught more men how to change a tire or tyre. It is not just women who think they do not have to learn… “That’s what AAA is fer” Is the most common retort.

  40. dr. stangegun:

    should we also include a bottle of scotch to our kits to help stay warm as well? It’ll make any situation work better.

  41. Hell, I’ve not only changed tires in interesting places and/or for interesting people (*g*), I’ve actually had to pick cars off the ground after the (hastily placed) jack slipped under the car…

    BTW, a 1985 Buick Regal is one heavy mother…

  42. Jay G-

    My first car was an 83 Buick
    Regal! Yes, yes they are very heavy….

  43. While we’re reforming driver’s education for a license to include changing a tire, let’s also throw in being able to operate a stick shift. Too many people can’t shift for themselves.

  44. Quoth jeffro: While we’re reforming driver’s education for a license to include changing a tire, let’s also throw in being able to operate a stick shift.

    Nononononononono! I’ve seen too many stories of carjackers stymied by a stickshift to WANT them to know how to drive one..


  45. I helped my 7 year old get the spare out of the trunk, last time I had to change a tire. I then helped her put the full-sized flat tire back into the trunk. She did everything else, including the final tightening of the lugnuts. I did not, repeat DID NOT tighten them for her. We then went to the tire shop and bought a new tire.

    Was she directed? Sure. Did she really need much? Nope. Will she be directed the next time? Not at all. I mean, hey– she’s now eight.

    While on patrol one day, I got a call for a motorist in distress on the interstate. I found him and his family sitting in their newer-model compact station wagon, with the a/c running. It was a hot day. I asked what the problem was. The tire was flat. Were they missing a spare? He didn’t think so. Did they have a jack? He thought so; the car was less than a year old. Was the spare flat? He didn’t think it was. Then… what was the problem? He didn’t know how to change a tire.

    Didn’t… know… how. . .

    I’m afraid I punked him out right then and there. I was wearing a midnight blue uniform of polyester and and perhaps a little cotton, and a vest, two guns, and boots. It was near the end of a long day’s shift. I wasn’t about to change this guy’s tire. I had him and his entire family troop out to the tire (outside tire, away from traffic even). I then showed him his owner’s manual, which had an 8 page section on changing a tire. I then instructed him, in front of his wife, daughter, and boy, how to change a tire. I had his kids place the lugnuts on, and had him check the tightness. To his credit, he didn’t balk. I then briefly lectured him and his wife (also a driver) on the importance of being able to take care of yourself.
    Didactic? Yup. But sooooo necessary.

  46. “For those with severely stuck and rusted lug nuts, when was the last time you tweaked them to break the rust up?”

    I actually put a drop of motor oil in the threads before reapplying the lugnuts, so that the rust problem won’t happen again.

    And every member of my family carries an “X” wrench in their trunk. At $5.99 for the big ones, they’re some of the best insurance you can get your loved one for a hasty toss-in Christmas/Birthday/whatever gift. For REALLY bad situations (like the lock lug won’t come off or you’re in a place where a jack can’t be placed), toss in a plug patching kit, a can of fix-a-flat, and a cheap 12-volt compressor with a car-charger cord.

  47. My girlfriend is tall but quite thin and doesn’t have a great deal of strength in her arms and upper body and obviously not strong like a male would be. I got her a high quality 12 volt impact wrench that is powered from her vehicle battery. I wired it with ends that attach to a special forklift/winch quick connector that I wired to her car so she doesn’t have to deal with clipping leads to the correct polarity terminals in the dark or anything either. I’ve got a light that hooks up with it too so the whole set-up she can take with her to the tire. It has the correct lug socket on it and I also modified the jack so that it runs the jack up and down with the same impact wrench. Works great for her and it will bust loose lugs she couldn’t otherwise manage.

  48. I got the car jacked up, and I got the lugnuts off just fine. But that wheel was not coming off – I crushed the fender trying.

    Just a guess, but I would assume that you had alloy wheels on that Chebby.

    Back in the 80’s, I would up using the same “impact therapy” to remove wheels from a number of cars I worked on, Audis, Mercedes, Porsches. In every case, this was due to dissimlar metals corrosion. It is an ionic (if I remember correctly) reaction between the (primarily) aluminum construction of the wheel and the steel of the brake rotor. Best way to beat it is heat, (like, a gently applied propane torch), followed by repainting of the interior of the wheel with a good grade of paint.

    (Yes, I know that this reply will probably never be seen. I’m okay with that… ^grin^)

Comments are closed.