• The workshop teaches females to be able to change the tyre of a car on their own.
• A flat tyre or puncture can happen at any time, mostly due to debris in the road.
• The Gals Garage Tyre Safety Workshop was supported by Toyota South Africa.
• For more motoring stories, visit Wheels24.
The first Gals Garage Tyre Safety Workshop of 2021 was held on the 22nd May, hosted by a total of 15 women. Although all Covid-19 regulations had been taken into account, motoring journalist Vuyi Mpofu, opted to take further precautions by hosting the event over two four-hour sessions, and in different venues, thereby giving guests the added comfort of knowing their health had been taking into consideration.
Supported by Toyota Motors South Africa (TMSA), the May 2021 Gals Garage Tyre Safety Workshop would not only allow guests to simulate a flat tyre scenario but would also afford them to test drive any of the Toyota vehicles used for the experience. These included an Urban Cruiser, two Agya's, or a Starlet.
Gaining the know how
The Tyre Safety Workshop, aimed at women, was held as a celebration of Mothers' Day. Kicking off with an interactive discussion about tyre rotation, wheel alignment and wheel balancing, the important topic of knowing how to change a tyre led to a few of the ladies relating personal stories about the inconveniences and dangers of being stuck on the side of the road.
"It used to be safe to ask a stranger to assist you in changing your flat tyre, but times have changed, so it is to every woman's benefit and safety to know how to do so yourself", Vuyi said.
Excited about learning this basic life skill, the ladies gathered around the two Agya's and set about changing a tyre, all while talking about causes of a flat tyre, how to identify a flat tyre (while driving) and safety measures to adhere to when it happens.
These include pulling out of traffic as slowly as is safely possible, parking on a flat surface where possible, ensuring that the handbrake is engaged (either in gear in manual transmission or Park if in an automatic). "In some instances, it is advisable to place a brick in front or behind one of the other tyres to further secure the vehicle," Vuyi mentioned, "but it is imperative that you remove these before you leave so as not to cause damage to another motorist's vehicle, particularly at night when visibility is generally reduced".
Another vital element under discussion was identifying the optimal position to place the red reflective triangle, which serves as a warning for other motorists, as well as learning the correct names of each of the tools required to successfully change a flat tyre - wheel spanner, nut-lock, car jack, reflective red triangle, spare tyre.
It came as a surprise to some of the ladies that all cars have a car 'jack-point' and that it is the safest location to position the car jack. By running their fingers along the edge of the bottom of the car's body, the ladies discovered either one or two jack-points positioned either a short distance behind the front wheels or positioned a short distance in front of the rear wheels.
"It is important to align the jack with the car-jack point. If you jack the vehicle at any other point, the car's own weight may cause damage to its frame, or the jack may slip off, causing the vehicle to crash to the ground. Either way, this could result in serious injury to yourself and expensive damage to the car," Vuyi mentioned.
To their surprise, the ladies accurately and safety completed the tyre change exercise in less time than they had anticipated. Most could barely believe how simple the task was.
"I will never forget the day my children and I nearly spent a night at the side of the road just because I did not know to change a flat tyre. Looking back, I feel annoyed with myself because I put us in unnecessary danger, yet here I am, doing this simple thing in 20-minutes!" remarked one of the guests.
When it came to test driving the various Toyota's on display, the Starlet proved to be a clear favourite among the ladies. "It's stylish, comfortable to drive and quite spacious," one guest remarked.
Others commented on the ride quality of the Urban Cruiser and that its raised height was very comforting. "Sitting in a car where I am almost on par with a pedestrian is a very nice feeling. Usually, people look down into my car, and it can feel awkward, especially if I am wearing a mini-skirt, but in this Cruiser, I feel more dignified," another said.
"The Agya is much bigger than it looks," remarked one guest. "When I first glanced at it looked like a 'toy', but I drove it out of curiosity, and I was quite impressed. I would love to have it as my weekday car because it would be easy to park," she continued.
Many of the ladies expressed appreciation that they had had an opportunity to test drive the Toyota vehicles in the comfort of their own environment because they find car dealerships intimidating.
"I am not looking forward to buying a car", another guest added. "I feel that car salesmen judge women when they walk into dealerships based on their appearance, and I am not about to make an extra effort to make a salesman comfortable with my appearance as well as give him my money. The job is to be friendly and helpful and not condescending towards women car buyers," she concluded.