Friday, 28 June 2013

Blow out

The vivaro van as a driving experience is quite lively, responsive and fun to drive. I have not driven a van with this type of get up and go since my MK3 Escort. Which I used to rattle around the streets of London in.

Tool kit.
I was on my way home late one evening from a friends when I heard this loud bang which at first I thought was a bit of debris in the road. Seconds later I was fighting the steering wheel to keep it straight, I was three lanes in on the motorway and travelling at quite a lick,so needed to get to the hard shoulder ASAP. There was not a lot of traffic on this usual very busy section. Luckily I found myself in a dead zone where all the other vehicles were well in front of me or far behind. The only fly in the ointment was a tractor unit in the inner most lane.

Now stopped on the hard shoulder I took stock for a couple of seconds, pulled on my high viz vest and got out of the cab to look at the front wheel. Man! That's the flattest flat I've seen since my mark three had a blow out on the M11 all those years ago. Whoosh!- a sixty footer went by - I need to get the van closer to the embankment if I'm going to change this wheel! First I need to check in and let people know what has happened.

Changing a wheel at the side of a motorway is quite dangerous but standing about in cold weather waiting for someone to turn up to do the work is just as bad. Anyway it will not take me long he says as I have changed loads of wheels for other people in the past and gotten it down to a fine art. Ten minutes should see it done and dusted. How wrong can you be. The van had a 'never been used' wheel kit under the seat. Off to a good start there! I found the special security key for the spare wheel cage and proceeded to undo this first. The kit was supplied with a basic ratchet, extension bar and toe loop that screwed in as a handle for the ratchet. I started with the spare wheel first because I knew that if I could not get the bolts undone then I was wasting my time. The special nut came loose quite easily and so did the ordinary nut to start with but there was a problem! It was just spinning round and not unscrewing. The thread was knackered! what was I going to do? I dived into the back of the van and found my largest screw driver and wedged it between the body work and the spare wheel cage. A gamble I know but it had to be done. I finally got it off after about a twenty minute struggle.

When jacking a vehicle up at the side of a motorway you should only have it jacked up and wheel off for the shortest possible time. The pressure wave of big sixty footers going by can pull the van off the jack. Then your in a heap of trouble. Ten minutes later the wheel was on, back on the floor wheel nuts tight, ready to roll. This part of the job would not have been so easy if I had not put a little grease on the wheel nut threads the last time the wheel had been off and tightened to the right torque. (140 Nm 103 lbf ft) Before leaving the hard shoulder you should get your vehicle up to at least sixty miles an hour so that when you join the carriageway again you are not a slow moving hazard to the traffic coming up behind you. This is one of the only times you should be travelling down the hard shoulder at speed.

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