Merced County Times Newspaper
The Power of Positive Press

A Flat Tire Can Totally Change The Course Of Your Day


Doane Yawger
Doane Yawger

The other day I ventured out into the driveway and to my dismay discovered a flat left front tire on our sport-utility vehicle. It’s one of the saddest sights you can imagine.

Finding your car looking like a rolling charcoal briquet after a fire isn’t all that pleasant either. A flat tire is one of many ways that we can be mechanically sidetracked and kept from going where we need to go. One of our cherished freedoms is the ability to go freely where we desire.

In the intervening 20 hours with the squishy and immobile tire, my flat malady made me really appreciate having a working car at my disposal. In this case a second car was sorely missed.

I am profoundly thankful to have a relatively-new car to drive and not have to rely on taxicabs, friends, relatives or public transit. It’s amazing what 30 pounds of air, or the lack of it, can do to modern motoring.

Just before discovering the airless tire we had been out to lunch, to the fabric store and the doctor’s office before going home. I had not noticed any quirks with the car’s handling up to that point.

Also a shoutout goes to emergency repair and towing services and their helpful, friendly drivers. They are worth their weight in gold. My sport-utility vehicle needed a ride to the car dealership so I could obtain the necessary factory wheel lock lug nut to remove the wheel and then get the flat repaired.

I got a ride in a modern Freightliner diesel truck cab which is a first. That big rollback tow truck, by the way, has an automatic transmission and glided along the road like a Cadillac. Being elevated, it’s a room with a view for sure.

The repair process ultimately wasn’t quite as simple: The dealership mechanics discovered flaws in the sidewall of the offending tire which could have been an even bigger problem if that tire were to have blown out.

Some motorists instinctively keep an eye on the treadwear patterns of their tires but aren’t nearly as diligent about checking the sides of the tires for other potential problems. We should do a visual inspection of our tires each time before venturing out. Tire problems also are hard to notice when it’s dark outside. I must confess that I haven’t developed that habit yet.

Historical auto literature tells us that early car tires and less-friendly roads from a century ago were more prone to create tire problems, especially with the narrow balloon type tires found on 1920s and 1930s cars and trucks.

Now we have wide radial tires to provide easier handling, stability and more reliability. I drove cars with bias ply tires for many years but can’t recall those cars having a sketchy ride.

If you want the air let out of your sails, figuratively speaking, discover your car leaning markedly to the left or right side after 30 pounds of air has somehow escaped. That’s a boo-hiss situation that I wouldn’t wish upon anybody.

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