Serious accidents can happen very quickly when using jacks without care
It's that time of the year when you're driving on dry and dusty loose metal roads and small stones can be easily flicked up, or road contractors have laid a patch of new seal and there is an abundance of loose, sticky stones.
End result can be both body paint and windscreen chips, especially if road speed is more than a crawl.
The other favourite landing spot for loose stones is jammed between the front brake disc and the tin backing plate which creates that high pitch squeal when the vehicle is on the move.
It does sound dreadful but in reality the fix is usually fairly quick and straightforward for the professionals.
Sometimes it's as simple as putting the vehicle into reverse and backing up for a few metres in the hope the stone(s) will dislodge itself/themselves.
If that doesn't work then it's a matter of jacking the vehicle up, removing the road wheel, sticking your head into the wheel arch area to locate the stone and flicking it out with a long screwdriver or similar tool.
It all sounds pretty easy, which it is, but often it's these sorts of jobs that catch people out and they place themselves at immediate and high risk when attempting a DIY fix.
If you attempt this or similar seemingly straightforward jobs at home, it pays to take a breath before rushing in and potentially putting yourself and others in danger.
First up, and before you even open the tool box, identify the risks and hazards associated with the job and take the necessary measures to avoid or reduce them.
• When removing a road wheel ensure the vehicle is on stable and level ground
• Make sure the handbrake is applied and/or chocks are placed under the other wheels to stop sudden and unwanted movement.
• Whatever is used to elevate the vehicle initially (scissor or hydraulic jack) should never be relied on solely whenever bodies or heads are going to be placed under or around the vehicle.
• Fit axle stands or similar to ensure the vehicle is stable.
• Loosening and the final retightening of wheel nuts is best done while the vehicle is on the ground.
• Make the extended work area a child-free zone.
• There should be no one in the vehicle.
• If the steering needs to be turned, do it from outside if possible. The driver's window should be open.
• If the engine needs to be started and it's a manual transmission, make sure it's out of gear.
We could go on but hopefully you get the message. In the case of removing that annoying stone, remember relying on a jack only to support a vehicle while your head is poked inside the wheel arch while trying to locate and remove the foreign object, is a recipe for disaster.
Accidents usually happen very quickly and without warning so take extra care, and what does it matter if a five-minute job stretches out a little longer because you played it safe.
Q) Peter from Kerikeri has asked we try to clarify the new Warrant of Fitness rules that came into effect on July 1 this year. "Our Suzuki was first registered April 15 2014 and was sold with a 12 month WoF. But being new, I have read somewhere that after the 2015 inspection the next due date will be in two years' time to take it through to 2017 (now 3 years for a new car). Seems confusing" says Peter.
A) You are correct Peter, the NZTA website states the following for the length of WoF's from 1 July 2014:
"For vehicles first registered less than two years previous: The WoF is issued to the vehicle's third 'birthday' (third anniversary of when it was first registered)."
I believe the renewal date pops up automatically when a WoF is being issued. It could become a nightmare for admin staff otherwise I imagine.