Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Pop Quiz




A front-wheel blowout at 70 MPH, in the fast lane, is a great time to do physics calculations in your head on how smoothly and quickly you can get over to the right hand pull-over lane without

a) becoming a one-person Dukes Of Hazzard stunt demonstration team (BTDTGTTS)

b) getting creamed by an 18-wheeler

c) driving off the rapidly deflating rubber, and using your rims for ad hoc fireworks sparklers in rush hour traffic, thus ensuring the purchase of a new wheel as well as a new tire.

AAR Takeaways

1) As Commander Zero has mentioned on multiple occasions, you'll use wads of fifty bucks a lot more frequently than belts of .50BMG for most personal emergencies. This would be one of those cases.

2) Off the accelerator, hit the hazards and the turn signal, and make smooth but rapid lane changes without drastic alterations in direction, to keep the rim on the rubber. (Greased that.)

3) For a driver's side tire change, there is no such thing as too far off the road. Including completely off the highway, down the off-ramp, and into a nice quiet parking lot, if you can make it that far. (I couldn't do that. Far beyond best-glide distance.)

4) Angle the car so your @$$ has more between it and oncoming traffic than just good looks and God's best wishes. Even if you have to move again after you've stopped. Trust me on this.

5) A daylight tire change is interesting. (Mine was.) One at night can be life-changing. Not in a good way. A hands-free headlamp isn't a luxury. Neither are eyes in the back of your head. Not everyone in the right-hand lane is fully awake, sober, or a very good driver.

6) Know your area. Sometimes traffic is less of a hazard than the 'hood (and the hood rats) at the end of the off-ramp. The lesser of two evils is always the right choice.

7) A low-speed spare is better than nothing. But not by much. A wheel with a real spare is vastly superior. 

{And should be as mandatory as seat belts on all new cars, or at the very least, an option at purchase. "Yes, I'd like to save $18 off the $30K purchase price and get that P.O.S. pot-metal wannabe tire instead of a real spare, because I'll never need it" said no one ever. And if anyone did, that's quite simply a fucktard. Or a jackassical auto exec who should be flogged with electrical cord, and then staked out butt-naked and supine in the breakdown lane of a major highway for 24 hours, every time they suggest it at a board meeting. It shouldn't require a separate after-market expensive choice either; it's how it oughta be, period. /rant}

8) A small thick steel plate or short piece of oak 1"x8" or pine 2"x8" is often the difference between jacking your car up, and jacking your jack down into soft ground. Only one of these moves lets you remove a bad tire.

9) The flares were nice, but you don't always want to start a fire or attract attention. Sometimes, letting traffic pay no notice and cruise on past is better than creating a lookie-loo hazard, and eating 3000 pounds of dumbshit sandwich when some gawking @$$clown stops to see if there's a headless torso sprawled across your hood, and turns a flat tire into a twelve-car pile-up.

10) The LED flares are absolutely splendid, but "10-year" shelf life (as if) batteries don't last two years in hot/cold car trunks. Annual checks are in order, and spares still in the original package are even better.

11) Folding triangles never run out of battery power, don't start fires, work day or night, and alert to a hazard without creating a bigger one. I'll be adding those to the trunk box ASAP.

12) We haven't changed a flat tire in 30 years, so we're not an Indy pit crew, but taking 30 minutes to git 'er done was a wee bit embarrassing. A ground tarp right next to the jack was handy, but a gardener's foam mat would have been a boon to knees that aren't 18 any more.

13) Consider 12V power tools for jack raising and lug nut removal/replacement. Every minute you're not next to traffic, is another minute you're not next to traffic. Pedestrians never win auto vs. pedestrian contests, especially at highway speeds. Ask me how I know.

14) Fix-A-Flat is helpful, unless it's not. Some holes just aren't salvageable.

The Good

Cars with Tire Pressure Sensor systems provide life-saving information and change reactions to life-saving moves. If your car doesn't have this, consider it the next time you buy.

Getting to Main Trauma 1/2 hour late is always better than getting there 1/2 hour early, as the main attraction.

A tire is always cheaper than a car wreck, ambulance ride, or hospital bill.

A cash cushion always solves a lot of problems with minimal hassle.

The Bad

Dead batteries suck. Especially if they're a single-point-of-failure for anything. P and A were good, but having the C and E in PACE would have been far better.

Put the crappy OEM spare in the garage, and get a real spare tire for the trunk. If this had been a trip to Vegas problem 50 miles from BFEgypt, rather than 3 miles from work at rush hour, this could have gone from annoying to a really sh*tty deal very rapidly.

The Ugly

The time to perfectly and logically organize the trunk supplies is yesterday. And it's either done right, or it's not.

I literally last week drastically upgraded the FAK in the vehicles. Should have done all the emergency equipment at the same time. So, this week, instead of last week. Got off lucky this  time.

Leave guns and ammo alone. But slap a $10 excise fee on every case of screws sold to contractors as a road hazard mitigation fee, and use it to make road hazard protection free on every set of new tires, to punish the fucktards who drop their gorram deck and drywall hardware hither and yon like the Johnny Appleseeds Of Mayhem fucktards they are. I've never been shot, but I've lost more tires over the years to screws that didn't fall out of cars, but rather off of work trucks, than I can recollect.


Anonymous said...

Great post. Blog quote of the day: "eating 3000 pounds of dumbshit sandwich when some gawking @$$clown stops to see if there's a headless torso sprawled across your hood, and turns a flat tire into a twelve-car pile-up".

I'm still laughing at that one. Now I gotta go work on my trunk...

Plague Monk said...

With regards to "b", that should be 18 wheeler, not 16 wheeler. Minor point, but I spent 6 months on a contract modeling an 18 wheeled rig that is supposed to carry some items related to the next generation of canned sunshine. Also, my wonderful wife spent some quality time as a trucker some 25 years ago. She found out that sleeping 6 hours/week wasn't that much fun.
While she was on the road, I had a flat during a severe winter storm in Rochester NY, 70 miles from home at 2 am. The road was officially closed, but I went ahead and changed the tire, wondering if I was going to make it home alive, given the lack of visibility(except when the thunder and lightning sounded).
Good times.

johnwatts said...

You have a spare? My car doesn't have a jack, let alone a spare. My 2012 Mustang came with an air pump and a can of proprietary "fix-a-flat".

tweell said...

I'm all about having a real spare instead of the silly donut, have done that for all cars I own. Also carry a pair of work gloves and kneepads, when you need them, you need them bad.

I've never done the power tool thing, but do keep a decent tire iron plus iron pipe for comealong purposes. A bit of penetrating oil helps too. Never trust the cheap telescoping jack, invest in a decent hydraulic jack. I keep a jackstand as well, just in case.

Mike Guenther said...

Most sets of new tires from major manufacturers do have a road hazard warranty. Or at least that's been my experience. They also offer free rotation every 5,000 miles.

Glad your tire adventure was fairly innocuous. Yes, the idiot who came up with the silly undersized spare tire should be flogged, doused in Honey and staked down naked across an ant hill.

Terrapod said...

I heartily agree with that last paragraph. Wife used to work for an attorney and had to come down the alley to park behind the office. Opposite side of the alley is local HCAC company. I swear that the 7 years she worked there, I was fixing flats on her car (and mine if/when I had to run over for any reason) literally every other month. Bastard low IQ types working for the place would spill buckets of ultra sharp sheet metal penetrating screws all over the alley. could not be bothered to run a magnet sweep. Totally oblivious since their trucks had thicker tread than any car. Bastards cost me a lot of $$$ and cussing over those years.

Anonymous said...

Frequent tire checks for screws or nails is helpful. Even just looking for what appears to be a low tire is preventative. This walk around saved me from a flat tire change in the New Mexico desert recently. Great post!

Anonymous said...

I tried to replace our donut spare once. Had the rim. Had the tire. The storage area was not big enough for the full sized spare.

Rhea said...

It ain't just screws. Up in my area the scrap metal recyclers haul their bins of scrap with no covers on them as they speed down the road. This prevents flats about as well as you would expect. Ask me how I know. (Hint: not all scrap metal is large. Some of it is small.)

So yes, a surcharge on screws, but also on scrap metal dealers who don't bother to cover what they transport.

Glad things worked out for you, Aesop. I need to make some of these updates for what I carry in my trunk.


Anonymous said...

Is a sixteen wheeler a eighteen wheeler that had the front wheels stolen?

Bad Attitude said...

Glad to hear that you didn't become a roadside statistic.

I carry a small 12V air compressor. I've used it many times to save myself having to change a tire under inconvenient circumstances. Usually screws or nails just produce slow leaks, and a freshly aired-up tire will give you a half-day to deal with the puncture.

Obviously, if the tire has a more serious failure, such as a gash in the sidewall, the compressor won't help.

Anonymous said...

30 minutes? That is acceptable. Second to last time it took me (moving like an arthritic sloth) about an hour. I even had to lower the flat to wrench the lugnuts off without spinning the wheel. Luckily it was a rural farm road, not the freeway. The spare was 20 years old. I replaced it with the best used tire the next time I replaced my tires.

Yes, get a block of wood for under the jack. My jack did not have enough height to lift the front tire completely off the ground in a parking lot last time. I ended up putting 1-2 inches of bound paperwork under the jack to lift it.

No, you cannot plug or patch that tire. The puncture is too close to the sidewall.

The donut spares are to reduce weight and improve CAFE Mileage Scores.

John Wilder said...

Last one I did was in the dark (early morning) and off "major" road. 10 minutes, 20 cars passed. It's nice to live in the sticks.

Mike-SMO said...

I got a "Thank You" and a warning instead of a speeding ticket since I put the passenger wheels WAY into the grass, so the Officer didn't have to worry about becoming a fender decoration on the semis speeding past. The patrol car was in a sort-of blocking position but I provided an escape alley for both of us, if some driver wasn't paying attention.

Same drill as for tire changes. Try for an off ramp or a rest area, but get the H___ out of the traffic. Looky Loos can be deadly.

Aesop said...

@Plague Monk etc,

A 16-wheeler is an 18-wheeler after a full and busy trauma shift, including people who keep trying to die on you, and spending an hour in surgery holding carotid pressure on the one who cut his own throat, then 2-3 additional hours to get a new pair of front tires, and get home, and then not proofread the post before hitting the rack.
I caught it in 2 seconds on the second look, fixed it, then read the comments. Mea culpa.. Corrected.

Plague Monk said...

Another good time to get a sudden blowout was when I had a brainstorm on how to fit all the required equipment underneath the trailer on a hot Saturday night. Instead of waiting until Monday like a more or less normal person, I drove toward work through a diverse neighborhood and hit something that instantly deflated my left rear tire.
My knees are not what they were 40+ years ago, so I called for a tow truck, and waited while the locals energetically partied around me. This included lots of gunfire, drugs, offers of female(?) company, and people wondering if I would make a good candidate for an involuntary wealth transfer. The worst part were the little kids being offered to me by their baby mamas or the wandering inseminators.
The tow truck guy was big and burly and professional, getting the work done in 15 minutes. He carried a big handgun; at least a 45, and we talked about guns as he worked. My own gun was a 9 mm.
After the tire was replaced, I spent the next 16 hours(time and a half at my inflated rate, baby!) configuring the assembly model. Since I had work documents in my car, I had to report the incident to my DoD client, who told me that I was insane for driving through that Garden of Eden. Last time I drove through town until winter hit.

Plague Monk said...

When I worked at the USN vendor on the north side of Milwaukee a few years earlier, several of the employees had tires shot by the local dindus, including in the client's parking lot. That was a problem, because no outside vehicles were allowed on the property due to the security rules in place. Changing the tires in the lot was prohibited by the regs, which meant that the vehicles had to be driven or pushed outside the gate, into a very bad neighborhood.
It was widely believed that the shooters were employees of the local tire dealers, just as we believed that the windshield replacement joints also employed the guys who smashed windshields with bats and cinder blocks.

Chris from SC said...

Reminds me of the flood of 2015. Here in SC anyway, they called it "The Thousand Year Flood". Hyperbole aside, it was bad news for Columbia residents. I thought floods that kill were a problem for people who live on flood plains in the Mississippi delta. I was wrong, to say the least.
I'd been a preparing for SHTF since 2010. Thought I had all my bases covered, except for the ONE emergency I didn't. A flood. Washed all my preps away (including my 2008 Shelby GT500 a month after I'd paid it off) and left me living in a hotel for a month.
What I took away was planning and preparing for ridiculously improbable black-swan events is stopped.
Much better to plan for the likely emergencies. Like a flood. Or a flat tire.

Bear Claw Chris Lapp said...

The real problem is the rubber neckers. Most idiot drivers tend to steer where they are looking instead of watching the road. Farkin idiots.

Rollory said...

Best such case that ever happened to me, I was commuting to a nearby town (hour's drive each way) for a job in my early 20s, driving a car on loan from parents. One day, a fwe minutes from the highway exit, smoke started pouring out from under the hood. WTF, pull over, look at it, no idea (when you grow up messing with computer parts, you tend not to pick up the details of internal combustion engines). However I know the lay of the land, the town is generally downhill from here, the car is a manual, I think about it, and ...

Start the car going again. Just enough speed, then into neutral (I may have even turned the engine off for most of this). Coast in neutral down and out the interstate exit, onto the next road. Coasting still. Coasting, coasting - take that turn, now that one - no red lights, good - still coasting - on, down, down, all the way into downtown, pull into my usual parking lot with the last bit of momentum, park. Must have gone at least 5 miles like that. Went to work, called home to report the problem and for a ride. Dad was dead certain I'd forgotten to check the oil. Nope, turned out that was fine. I don't remember the specifics anymore but it was some major failure throughout the engine block that totalled the vehicle. The repair shop considered it physically impossible for a vehicle in that condition to have made it from the interstate to the parking lot where I'd left it.

Worst such case that ever happened to me: driving a vehicle with power steering when I wasn't entirely used to it. Merging onto an interstate, someone zooms up out of my blind spot, whoa! - jerk the steering wheel, the power steering engages, it overcorrects, I jerk it back, overcorrect, etc - car bounced back and forth all over the highway until finally it spun out and slammed into the guardrail. The whole thing took a matter of seconds and I had absolutely no time to think about it. Dad told me later he'd had a similar thing happen to him and only because he knew what was going on did he get out of it. It's a hell of a thing to happen to someone who isn't expecting it. I have no idea how I didn't hit the guy zooming up on me.

The one time I've had to change a tire was at night. Some random dude walked up to me in the middle of the otherwise empty parking lot, offered to help, and then did most of the work while talking about Jesus.

nick flandrey said...

Just had a flat myself two days ago. Tire got soft and wobbly on the freeway. Pulled off for gas and air, but the machine was broken. Limped to another station and put air into it, only to have everything in the valve stem shoot out under pressure when I removed the air chuck...

I was only a block from a Discount Tire, but didn't want to lose the rim. Crept into some shade, put on the spare, drove the block, and DT put a new valve stem on, 5 minutes after closing and for free!

I had a tiny finish nail in the tire, but finished my trip on the spare. I'm replacing all four on Thursday because they were all more worn than I thought, and the next six months are not the time to be looking for tires.

I think it took about 15 minutes, but I didn't put the flat or the jack and tools away, just tossed them into the pickup bed. I've had lots of practice changing flats because the contractors in and around my place have the same problem with screws that they do in Cali... and most of the time I can do it faster than AAA can get a driver and truck to me.

BTW, the auto club can be a lifesaver in this situation, and the AAA membership is worth it. It's been my experience that they are faster to respond than plans linked to a car dealer or a credit card, YMMV of course.

I'm in the habit of looking at all my tires as I approach my vehicle, and I check the air pressure in the spare when I check the tires. Both habits have saved me more often than I'd like to admit.


Anonymous said...

Paid well over $350 to have Bride's spare changed from donut to "real". Haven't had to use it yet and don't care. We will always have full-size spares for every vehicle.
Taco truck has high-lift Jack and base for same. Well worth it.
Boat Guy

Mike Guenther said...

Triple A is so worth it. Especially if you pay for the best plan. One time on a trip to Maine, we had a front end problem in Foxboro MA late in the evening. Called Triple A and got a tow to my wife's best friend's house in Saco-Biddeford, ME. Our plan gave us 100 miles free towing and it ended up being 103 miles. We paid the tolls and the tow truck driver gave us the extra miles.

I think there are 3 benefits per year before they cut you off. DAMHIKT. Plus there are all those travel discounts.

Chuck Kuecker said...

Make sure your lug wrench is in good shape - had an '05 Focus that developed a wet trunk - the one time I needed to change a tire, the lug wrench which resided under the spare was so rusted it wouldn't fit on the nuts,

Anonymous said...

Another option to consider for the trunk is a tire repair kit. I have never used one on the side of the road, but have patched friends' tires on two occasions while they were in the driveway. Something like:


For a clean puncture like you had it could work if you could find the source of the leak. Combine that with a 12v compressor and it could work (you could even use a manual bicycle pump... I used that one time to reinflate a tire after a fix-a-flat).

Aesop said...

@Anon 12:56,

I didn't post a complete comprehensive car list, but besides Fix-A-Flat, I have both the puncture kit and a compressor in the trunk. Neither helped with this excursion (tire was too chewed by the time I was off the road), but I've used them both on the dually F350 on several occasions.

Will said...

The typical low profile sporty tire is good for 1/4 mile when flat, on a smooth road, if you notice it going flat. Problem is that there is no big change in handling/ride, until a sidewall fails, and the other side is not long behind that. That's when it gets fun! If you hit a pothole with it flat, kiss it goodbye, and possibly the rim also.

Those donut spares do not have the internal pressure liner that real tires do, so they leak down. They require 60 psi, since they are so small, but they will only have about 8 to 16 psi when you go to mount it, unless it is a rental car. Must be topped off at least twice a year.

If you use those fix-a-flat cans, don't expect the tire shop to repair it, as cleaning that out of the tire so it can be fixed is a major problem.

Yes, that hole location is fine for repair, providing no other damage occurred. The rule of thumb is if the hole is within the tread area, you are good to go.

Permanent repair to the sidewall is not condoned, and will not be done in a shop, however, if you have an airpump, and you need it to move now, you can try plugging it as a very temporary fix, but NOT for highway speeds. You can fix motorcycle tires with plugs. Had a full dresser Asian bike hit one of those screw drops on the freeway, and I think I put 14 plugs between both tires, including the sidewalls. Would have had to call a flatbed tow to get him moved, as my FSP towtruck would have done damage trying it. The cost of having CHP call a tow for just a couple miles to a bike shop would have eaten up a good percentage of the replacement tires cost, and they really wanted him out of the center divide.

You can get a 24" long, 1/2" drive flex-bar in Horror Fright that should easily remove stubborn lugnuts. Most all tire shops use air impact guns, and generally tighten the nuts far beyond spec. You may not be able to move them with the oem lugnut wrench. Get the correct size socket, and a short extension to get the wrench to the outside of the wheel. That wrench makes an impressive "get off me" addition to your crowd control implements.

If you have aftermarket/specialty type wheels, make sure you have a socket for both the special nuts, and the oem nuts that the spare may require. Do you have those nuts/bolts with you? Also, do you have the special key needed for the wheel locks you may have? Amazing how often I encountered people with flats, that stated they had left those needed parts in their garage the last time they cleaned out the car. I made an effort to collect some of those odd pieces to carry on my truck, but no one else in the fleet did so. I would also make an attempt to remove locks if possible. Sometimes you can do it.

I ran an FSP tow truck for CHP for 5 years in the early 00's.