Friday, October 26, 2007

What to do when you get a flat tire

First off may I just say, HELP!!! What am I supposed to do with a flat tire on my segway? How am I supposed to make it not flat?

So, for about a month now my friends have been telling my tires looked flat. They did not look flat to me and the segway still worked just fine, until today. Today I had been out for about a half hour when one of my tires randomly went flat. At first I though the sound I heard was just a leaf cauight on a wheel, but then the segway started to act up. A man I passed said, "got a flat tire, huh?" and then I knew, the rumors were true. My segway has a flat tire.

What do you do when your segway randomly gets a flat tire. Well, if you're smart you get off and walk the segway back home. I'm not so smart. I stayed on the segway, made a wrong turn or two, and rode it back to my dorm. I had to go very slowly. Sometimes the segway would randomly slow down. Other times it would lean too far forward or too far back. Some times it started going off to the right as if it wanted to topple over. I stayed on. I prayed. After some difficulties, I got back safely. If this ever happens to you, go no more than 5 miles per hour and keep a constant eye on the key for when the smiley face becomes a frown face (it will do this very frequently).

Anyways, now I have no way to return the DVDs I checked out that are due back Sunday before noon. Everyone is gone for fall break who could take me. What am I supposed to do? How do I make my tire not flat? HELP ME!


Poorhouse Dad said...

Warning: Do NOT use Fix-a-Flat! But more on that later.

Flat tires are a real pain, whether on bikes, cars, or Segways. You have my full sympathy. Please consider yourself hugged.

I'm looking through the online manuals on the Segway site. I'll send you more info if I learn anything of significance to your situation.

Return the videos

By now, you've talked to the Segway dealer, so I doubt I can help much; but here's what I'd do in your position. I'd walk and ride the bus to return the videos.

Get the tires fixed at a shop

Then, when my neighbors come back from the break, I'd get a couple of those strong college boys to lift my Segway into my friend's car and take it to the nearest bicycle shop or car tire store.

Some GPS units can do distance-based searches. I think Google Maps or Mapquest can do distance-based searches, too.

You want to call before going to make sure the place is still in business. When I look up any kind of business in the Yellow Pages, about a third of them, it seems, have gone out of business. Also ask what their hours are and whether they are willing to work on your Segway's unusually sized tires.

If That's Not an Option....

If you decide to take on fixing it yourself or get somebody to help you, read through the rest of this and make a list of things that you will need. It's better to see how each step fits into the big picture before trying to follow the individual steps.

Finding the Leak

To find the leak in a tire mix a batch of soap and water that makes really good bubbles. (If you're not sure what container to use, you could use a 2-liter soda bottle or a trash bucket. Or you could go to the cooks in the cafeteria and ask them for a plastic bucket like the ones that bulk ice cream comes in.)

Find something to put the Segway on top of so the tires are free to rotate. You could use a stack of books, but be sure to put them inside a trash bag so they don't get wet in the next step.

Use a tire pump to get some air pressure into the tire. Coat the part of the tire that you can look at with the soapy water and inspect it. Rotate the wheel a bit and put more soapy water on it. When you see bubbles, you've found your leak. Dry off the leak and mark it with an indelible ink marker.

If you find one leak, check for others.

I believe I left you a pair of pliars. You may need to use them to remove any object that caused punctures.

If a leak is on the side of the tire, you must take it to a shop (bicycle shop or car tire store). Tire stores are forbidden by law from repairing car tires with sidewall leaks. They might be willing, however, to do so for your Segway. If they won't, we'll have to order a new tire.

If the leak is on the tread part, you can use Slime -- but going to a shop is still better.

Fix-a-Flat Bad...,

Fix-a-Flat is fine for cars, but because it has a strong odor, you don't want to use it on something that you might want to store indoors. It also puts enough air pressure into the tire for a car, which is enough to damage your little Segway tires. If you already bought Fix-a-Flat, give it to your friend with the car.

...Slime Good

There's something better called Slime Tire Sealant. (Do not buy the Tube Sealant). Visit the web site so you can see what the bottles look like. That page also has an illustration of how to use the product.

When you buy it, get the 16-ounce car tire sealant not the one for bike tires. You can get this at an auto parts store and, maybe, where you got the Fix-a-Flat. (Again, call first and make sure to ask whether they have it in stock.) If that doesn't work, you can buy it online.

Sliming Your Tires

When adding the Slime, make sure the valve stem on the tire is rotated to 10:00 or 2:00. That gives the goop more room into which to drain and makes it less likely to spill back out. Use only about 1/2 of the bottle per tire because there's enough in a 16-ounce bottle for full-sized car tires. Do both tires because it's a good preventive measure.

Before adding the goop, remove the valve stem. After adding the goop, put the valve stem back in.

Your tires will need to be spun for a while to make sure the goop distributes evenly inside the tire. (The Segway is still on top of something so the tires rotate freely, right?) By the way, rotate the tires s-l-o-w-l-y so the slime can run over the sides and not just be stuck in one place by the centrifugal force.

Inflate the tire. Be sure to check the tire pressure periodicall to make sure the pressure hasn't gone too high. (I think it's supposed to be about 16 psi. Normal for car tires is twice that. Normal for bike tires is about 3-4 times that.)

Before checking the pressure, push in on the prong at the center of the valve stem for about two seconds. This should clear out most of any goop that's gotten inside the valve so it doesn't ruin your tire guage.

Then place the tire gauge over the end of the valve stem and push down quickly so the end of the gauge is flush with the end of the valve stem. A stick will come out the end of the tire gauge, and where the markings meet the end of the gauge's body, that's the pressure. Push the stick back in and do this repeatedly until you think you've gotten an accurate reading. Normally, the accurate reading is the highest one.

If the pressure is too high, you can let air out of the tire by pushing in on the prong at the center of the valve stem. Push in for just a couple of seconds and measure the tire pressure again.

Poorhouse Dad said...

When taking a Segway to a shop for tire repair, the mechanic needs the following information:

Inflation pressure: 15 psi.

The valve stem is on the inner side of the tire. You have to tip the Segway on its side to access the valve stem.

If they have to remove the wheel, they will need hard copies of pages 104-107 of this document:
and of page 2 of this document: .

Poorhouse Dad said...

I just read more blog comments about using Slime. It's a lot better to go to a tire store or bicycle shop and have them glue a plug in the leak. Slime's a lot better for a Segway than Fix-a-Flat, but only as a last resort, and it might not even work. It's made for much faster vehicles -- cars and motorcycles -- not for Segways.

nora said...


Remember that it's crucial to check your tire pressure once a month and to maintain it around 14 or 15psi. I'm right around the top of the suggested weight range so i never pump them higher than 15 otherwise i'd bounce like a quarter.

I hope your dealer informed you of that at the time of purchase. Between that and keeping your batteries charged it's the only maintenance you need to perform... except when your tire busts a flat.

Are both of your tires busted, or just one?

NYCindividual said...

It's just one tire, but the other one looks like it might need some more air as well. I think I'm gonna pump it up when I get a chance and see what happens. Do you recommend I use slime?