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Dear Car Coach: I've never had a flat tire and the other day my girlfriend had a flat and waited on the side of the road for hours for a tow truck to come. She was on the phone with me the whole time. We were both concerned. When the tow truck driver finally came, he changed the tire to her spare tire and that was flat, so she had her car towed to a local station and had to buy a new tire. I never thought about this before, but I have no clue how to change a tire and don't want to experience what my friend went through. What do you think I should do? I hope to never have a flat.

J.S., Amherst

Dear J.S.: Most drivers face a flat at least a few times in their lives. There never seems to be a convenient time to get a flat tire. Whatever the cause, a flat tire can result in frustrating delays or leave you stranded if you're not prepared.

I know firsthand that it can be upsetting. I can change a flat tire and have done it many times. I highly recommend that all drivers check their spare tire pressure once a month. The correct tire pressure is located inside the driver's door just like your regular tire pressure.

Many manufacturers no longer offer spare tires but offer tire inflation products. They are the best choice for those who don't know how to change a flat tire at the side of the road is getting narrower and can be unsafe.

Fixing your flat with tire sealant is a quick and easy way to get moving again fast. Many commercial products are available that are designed to fix your flat tire and get you to your final destination by simply pressing a button.

The Fix-A-Flat Ultimate 1-Step system is the safest and quickest way to get back on the road. This kit is based on the same technology as many of the Tire Repair Kits included in new vehicles in place of spare tires. Fix-A-Flat will not affect your Tire Pressure Monitoring Sensors as other products that can plug them up.

The 1-Step system seals punctures and provides 100 percent inflation in around 7 minutes. At the push of a single button the tire sealant and air are sent into the flat tire, repairing and reinflating the tire in one simple step. No need to wait for a tow or resort to using a tire jack and heavy tools.

Instructions:

*Inspect your tire tread for puncturing objects and remove any objects, if possible.

*Unscrew the cap from the flat tire's air stem. The cap will twist off counterclockwise.

*Screw the injection tube that is included with your tire sealant to the nozzle of the canister. This will attach with a clockwise motion.

*Plug the inflator into a 12-volt accessory power outlet. Do not run vehicle while inflator is operating.

*Attach (black) air hose to sealant cartridge nozzle, located at the top of the sealant cartridge. Close the locking lever.

*Push the yellow power "ON" button to turn on the system. Wait six minutes (in temperatures below 32 degrees, wait 12 minutes). Some sealant may remain in the hose. Turn system off and check tire pressure. If additional air is needed, follow "Inflate a Tire" instructions. Disconnect the system once correct tire pressure has been achieved.

Before you have the tire serviced, let the garage personnel know that sealant was used to fix the flat tire.

Tire sealants are designed to provide a temporary fix and are not intended as a permanent repair. Replace your tire or have it professionally patched to ensure future safety. The sealant should be removed within 100 miles or 10 days.

Don't forget to purchase a replacement canister in case you get a future flat tire.

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Dear Car Coach: I have a 2005 Toyota Camry XLE with 46,000 miles. I recently ?had a preventative maintenance check done ?and it was suggested that I needed a power steering system flush due to dirty power ?steering fluid. Nothing in my maintenance manual refers to having this done and I have read conflicting opinions on the Internet as to whether this is needed or not. What is your take on this subject?

R.M., Buffalo

Dear R.M.: I agree that changing power steering fluid with low mileage doesn't make sense. Often, power steering fluid will turn dark and murky within minutes of being added. You might not be able to tell whether your steering fluid needs to be changed just by looking at it. This may be why the technician thought you need a flush.

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