My Tiny House traveled over 22,000 miles on a road trip that stretched from the Florida Keys to the Arctic Circle! Of course, we hit a few bumps in the road, but we managed to not get a flat tire until we had about 14,000 miles under our belt. After that, it was a domino effect. We’ve changed three tires, and I think that qualifies us as experts! Read on for our tiny house flat tire stories and learn how we fixed them.
Our Tiny House Trailer
We purchased one of the first Tumbleweed utility trailers back in 2013. Nowadays they sell like hotcakes. Our trailer came with special radial tires, meant to withstand the weight of our 10,000lb tiny home. This article isn’t about our trailer, but I must say, we highly recommend the Tumbleweed trailer. And, we’ve really put it to the test!
We crashed our tiny home on our maiden voyage and, later, popped a weld on the famous bumpy Klondike Highway. Both times our trailer held up. In Dawson City, Yukon Territory, we took our tiny house in for some maintenance (the aforementioned popped weld). The mechanic said he was VERY impressed with the trailer’s design. That put our mind at ease. We still had 5,000 miles left to go on our journey!
Our First Tiny House Flat Tire
We had our first flat in Vancouver, British Columbia, when we drove over a nail. The tire was somewhat patchable, so we were able to patch-and-tow to the nearest repair shop. The mechanics at the shop were perplexed by our tiny house, and they had to use TWO trailer jacks to lift it! They also couldn’t fit the tiny house inside their shop, so they replaced the tire the parking lot. It took them less than an hour to lift, remove, and replace the tire. We went to lunch and by the time we returned, they told us that dozens of people stopped by to see our tiny home.
Before towing your Tiny House to nearest shop you should –
- Call the Repair Shop. Not all auto mechanics have a jack that can lift a tiny house, but any large vehicle repair shop should. Choose the nearest tire shop, RV, or Large Vehicle (semi-truck) repair shop. Make sure they have special trailer radial tires in stock.
- Explain your rig over the phone. Tell them the weight and dimensions of your tiny house so they can accommodate you.
- Drive slow. Although you’re hopefully not going far, be sure to drive slow and cautiously.
Our Second Tiny House Flat Tire
Our second flat was the most challenging. We decided to tow our tiny house down the famous Stampede Trail in Alaska, where adventurer Chris McCandless (from “Into the Wild”) died in 1992. Not our best idea. Stampede Road is completely plagued with potholes and sharp rocks. Driving slow,, we inevitably had a teeny tiny rock pierce one of our worn trailer tires. And, to make matters worse, we were out in the middle of nowhere.
How to Change a Tiny House Flat Tire ….Yourself
Luckily, we had the Anderson Rapid Jack, or we might have been stranded. The Anderson Rapid Jack is a $47 portable, lightweight trailer jack that can lift your trailer up to 7 inches to suspend a flat tire. For our Alaska predicament, which was on unlevel ground, we drove onto a few planks of wood before using the Rapid Jack to give us a few extra inches of lift.
Steps for using the Anderson Rapid Jack:
- Loosen the lug nuts on your flat tire while the wheel is still on the ground.
- Place the Rapid Jack under the good wheel on the same side of the wheel that needs to be changed.
- Slowly drive onto the Rapid Jack, which will lift one side of your trailer.
- Keep driving onto the Rapid Jack until the flat tire is suspended.
- Adjust your scissor jacks and tongue jack for stability*
- Place a wheel chock under the Rapid Jack to secure it in place.
*DO NOT use the scissor jacks on your trailer to lift your house. They are meant for support only.
Steps for changing a trailer tire:
Changing a trailer tire is very similar to changing a car tire.
- Loosen the lug nuts while the wheel is still on the ground.
- Lift the Tiny House using a trailer jack (see instructions above for Anderson Rapid Jack) just enough so that the flat wheel is hovering.
- Remove the flat wheel and replace it with the good spare.
- Tighten the lug nuts as much as you can by hand, wiggling the new wheel in place.
- Lower the trailer back to the ground and tighten the lug nuts once more to the appropriate torque. See the following sequence:
- Drive a few dozen miles and re-torque the lug nuts to the right specification. Once that’s done, you are good to go.
Changing a flat tire on our tiny house tailer, in the middle of nowhere, felt like getting a graduate diploma from Tiny House University. So, of course, we had a few celebratory beers afterward.
Our Third Tiny House Flat Tire
We noticed that one of our tires was wearing out and needed to be changed, so our third flat wasn’t actually a flat. He changed the worn tire in the REI parking lot in Salt Lake City, Utah. This particular tire had made it through 22,000 miles of rough roads with a heavy load. Using the Anderson Rapid Jack in a level parking lot was immensely easier than changing our flat on the Stampede Road.
With three trailer tires toast, we still have one original tire left on our trailer. We’re considering changing that tire out before our next road trip. In the meantime, we’ve had to change FIVE tires on our truck!