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How difficult can it be?

I assume (by dint of this being a motoring-related publication) that most of you reading this are in possession of a driver’s licence and you acquired it by following the K53 process.

If this is the case, then I am sure you can recall the rigmarole you were obliged to follow before you even put the key in the ignition … a rigorous set of checks that fell just short of climbing under the car to determine if the IRA had attached a bomb to the chassis.

My question is this: how long did you follow the prescribed procedure after you obtained your licence? For that matter, how many of you remember what it was you were supposed to check before you drove off? It is something we are all supposed to do … but never actually **do**.

The greatest perk of writing regularly for **RoadTrip** is that I get to drive hundreds – sometimes thousands – of kilometres in new vehicles just about every month. Very often this entails taking on some pretty tough roads and routes.

I know I should check the spare tyre and the jack every time I get a new car, SUV, or bakkie … but somehow I never do. I mean (and I can hear the plaintive wail of Jeremy Clarkson), **how difficult can it be** to change a tyre? It is something genetically imprinted on every petrol-headed male, right?

Sadly, there are some lessons we never learn, no matter how much discomfort and embarrassment they cause. A while ago, I picked up a new Volkswagen Amarok at Port Elizabeth Airport late one afternoon prior to going on an extended tour through the Eastern Cape and up the Wild Coast. I drove out of the airport and down Buffelsfontein Road to a favoured meeting place known as The Duck.

I do not know how it happened but I suffered a puncture leaving the parking lot. I limped to a service station where, for the life of us, neither I nor the attendants could figure out how to release the spare wheel (there was no manual in the vehicle). In the end, the media fleet manager of Volkswagen had to drive through from a Friday-night braai in Uitenhage to perform a two-minute manoeuvre.

Another time I have had to drive close to 400 km, most along dodgy dirt roads, with a seven-centimetre gash in the sidewall of a run-flat tyre to the nearest town where it could be replaced before taking on the 900 km return trip to Cape Town – this, despite the fact that I insisted beforehand that the car be supplied with a full-sized spare for the trip. There was none, but I never checked, did I?

My absolute worst was driving the R355 – also known as the “death of tyres” road – through the Tankwa Karoo in the acme of German luxury SUVs. Shod with ultra-low profile **tekkies** it was in the middle of nowhere in the middle of Summer when the little red light indicating a flat started to blink violently.

The SUV, packed to the gunnels with camping equipment, had to be unloaded because, naturally, the spare was under everything. Yep, it was a “Marie biscuit” and it shredded after less than 20 km. To cut a long story short, the manufacturers had to send a recovery flatbed into the Tankwa in the middle of the night.

And then the recovery vehicle had a puncture …

Jim Freeman