Puncture with the van – What to do if you get a flat?

A sprinter parks in a lay-by.

Impassable terrain, unpaved roads, miles away from anyone, nothing around you and suddenly you cannot go any further ...

Bang! If the tire bursts at high speed.

If you are looking for adventure, you sometimes have to put up with badly paved roads, gravel trails or dirt paths. Sprinters and Vito with 4×4 drive are well equipped for such routes. Nevertheless, it can happen that a nail, a piece of metal, a pointed branch or stone drills into the tire. If you want to solve the problem yourself, instead of calling a breakdown service, you can take the further steps. The following applies: If you are still accelerating and suddenly hear a loud bang, you should definitely keep calm. It is important not to over steer or due to the shock to yank the steering wheel!

A Mercedes-Benz Vito drives over a dusty construction site

Construction sites and stony roads are risky for tires – a nail or a sharp stone can quickly penetrate the tire.

The most important steps in every breakdown

  1. Take a deep breath.
    The most important thing is to stay calm! This applies above all to breakdowns on busy motorways, but also to incidents that occur far from popular routes.
  2. Warn other road users.
    The first thing to do is to use the hazard lights, because rear-end collisions can also happen on forest roads. If these no longer work, the accident site must be secured.
  3. Out of the danger zone.
    If the van can still be moved, look for a safe parking area. It is best to find a breakdown bay on the motorway, otherwise on the hard shoulder. If you are off the beaten track. Be sure to find a place where no approaching truck can hit you.
  4. Do not do anything risky.
    If the van cannot move or as soon as it is parked, take care not to get out without observing your surroundings carefully. Always get out on the passenger side or away from the road.
  5. Always wear a safety vest.
    Orange suits everyone. In Spain and Italy the safety vest requirement has been in force since 2004, in Germany since 2014, and in the USA only in some states. However, it is always advisable – no matter where – to have a couple of safety vest at hand. If you want to be on the safe side, it is best to pack one for every passenger, so they can draw attention to themselves in the event of a breakdown.
  6. Set up a warning triangle or flare.
    In Europe, a warning triangle is mandatory in almost every country. Depending on the surroundings, this must be installed 50 to 400 m away from the scene of the accident. If a curve obscures your view, set up the warning triangle before the beginning of the curve. In the USA or other countries like South Africa, accident participants often also use “flares”. These either light up with LEDs or are ignited to warn other road users. Be careful not to endanger yourselves when setting up.
  7. Get help.
    As soon as the breakdown has been secured, you can take care of the problem. When waiting or thinking, it is essential to keep behind the guardrail in a safe place. As a member of an automobile club, you can contact them, otherwise a call to a towing or breakdown service will help. Important: Always provide the exact location. With a smartphone or GPS device this can be precisely identified.
  8. Do it yourself.
    If you want to tackle the problem yourself and have packed the necessary equipment, you can use our breakdown tips as a guide. Here, too, it is important to make absolutely sure that nothing can happen to you and that you are parked in a safe place.

Please absolutely make sure, you know the specific laws of the country you are travelling through.

Emergency tip: Sealant as a temporary solution.

First, check the tire and carefully remove the foreign object. If you have only discovered a small hole in the tire and have packed a puncture spray with tire sealant, you can use this. This is only a temporary solution, as the sealant otherwise threatens to clog the valves over a long period. However, if there is still enough air in the tire and the hole remains airtight, short distances can be covered such as to a garage or the nearest city. Important: Do not race off, but stay below 60 km/h if possible.

The tires of the Mercedes-Benz Vito

If the tire is defective, the following applies: Do not continue driving under any circumstances, otherwise there is a risk of swaying and loss of control.

How to change a wheel? The preparation.

The first step in changing the tires is to stabilize the vehicle. If the ground lets the wheel sink, a board underneath helps. In Sprinter, Citan and Vito there is a spare wheel located under the rear cargo area. You can find detailed instructions on the Mercedes Benz Vans YouTube channel.

What to consider when changing tires?

If you are unsure, you cannot go wrong by looking at the operating manual. It explains what you need to pay special attention to – for example, where you can find the jack. Above all, it is important that the vehicle is level and safe. It is therefore essential to apply the handbrake and engage first gear. If it is an automatic van, set the lever to “P”. If you are still unsure, use a stone if necessary to prevent it from rolling away.

What you really need:

  • Lug wrench
  • Wheel nut wrench
  • Torque wrench
  • Car jack
  • Spare wheel
  • High-visibility vest
  • Work gloves
  • Spare wheel with sufficient air pressure

A man repairs the wheel of his Mercedes-Benz van

Important for all DIY fans: Always pack the necessary tools.

Step 1 – Remove the damaged wheel.

  • In order to complete the process quickly and effectively, it is best to have your tools and spare wheel ready.
  • Lever off the wheel cap (if present), then loosen the wheel bolts crosswise by half a turn with the lug wrench.
  • Position the jack so that the wheel to be replaced is lifted up in the air and the mounting position is reached. You will find information on this in the operating and the safety instructions.
  • Then unscrew the wheel nuts completely, remove the damaged wheel and place it under the van. (Attention: Danger of rolling away!)
Two Mercedes-Benz vans on a bumpy roadway

Make sure that you do not obstruct other vehicles, even on remote roads, but that you are clearly visible and safe.

Step 2 – Mount the spare wheel.

  • Put on the spare wheel and screw on all lug nuts hand-tight.
  • Only use undamaged lug nuts and bolts.
  • Remove the disassembled wheel from under the van.
  • Then lower the van again, preferably so far that the tires just rest on the ground.
A tire is inflated on muddy terrain

It is also helpful to pack a compressor and pressure gauge when it comes to tire pressure.

Step 3 – Tighten the lug nuts.

  • Tighten the lug nuts in a diagonal sequence using the torque wrench.
  • Observe the recommended Mercedes tightening torque – you will find this in the manual.
  • Now, put away your tools, the old wheel and the jack.
  • Before you start, do not forget to collect the warning triangle again!
A 4x4 Sprinter drives through the Sahara

If you are far away from civilization, the only thing that helps is to tackle it yourself and change the tires.

What should I keep in mind with the spare wheel?

Drive slowly for the first few Kilometers with a spare wheel. This often has low tire pressure and the vehicle reacts differently than usual. It is therefore best to inflate the tire at the nearest filling station and retighten the lug nuts. If necessary, have the tightening torques of the nuts checked in the workshop. If these are too loose or too tight, there is a risk of damage to the thread or loosening of the screws. Tires can also be repaired, if they are relatively new and the tread is not worn out. In this case, workshops can seal the hole from the inside with a sealing strip.

Sprinter

Regardless of what job you have to tackle – the Sprinter will make your day-to-day tasks easier. And even if those tasks are weighty ones, together, you’ll move mountains. Thanks to a host of different variants and over 600 optional features, the Sprinter can meet a wide variety of requirements.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
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