Wednesday, October 03, 2012

tyre meets tyro

Got a flat tire on the way home tonight. I've been expecting this for a few months, because I've known for a while, now, that my tires have been wearing thin.

The flat happened almost exactly the way I imagined it would: funny flapping noise, vibration, a bit of loud scraping, and me pulling calmly over to the shoulder. As I mentioned above, I've been visualizing this scenario for months, so I knew exactly what to do when the moment arrived. No sweat.

It happened on Route 66 as I was flying home-- probably a bit before 10PM. I resigned myself to changing the tire, but because it had been so long since I'd performed such a task, I flipped through my Honda's manual first to give myself a quick and dirty reorientation. Then I flipped up the fabric at the bottom of my hatchback space, dragged out the jack, toolkit, and doughnut, and grimly set to work. It was dark, except for the cars zooming by at random intervals, so I stuck my brother's LED flashlight in my mouth (a perfect fit!), spread my rain jacket on the asphalt, picnic-style, and crouched down next to my now-defunct left front tire.

The poor thing was shredded to hell. The sidewall had blown out, and the wheel well was still smoking. It was a sad but impressive sight. I laid out my tools, loosened the four nuts holding the tire in place with several judicious kicks to the tire iron, brought forth the jack, and started a-crankin'. Pretty soon, I had a good rhythm going.

The most suspenseful part about changing a tire is figuring out where to place the jack. Place it under the wrong strut-- or under the wrong part of the right strut-- and you end up with a mass of bent metal. The manual said that the location was clearly marked with a triangle icon, but I didn't see one, so I picked the spot that looked the most reinforced.

I didn't hear the telltale sounds of bending metal, and my periodic glimpses at the car's undercarriage revealed no problems, so I raised my tiny Honda as if it were a miniature Titanic. The front wheel drooped as the car rose, unwilling, like Antaeus, to be separated from the earth. Finally, when the car was high enough off the ground, I loosened those nuts the rest of the way, popped off the tire, popped on the doughnut, re-nutted the whole thing, packed up my tools and the dead tire, and headed home at a sedate 60 miles per hour.

So now I'm looking forward to spending money on some new tires. I'll most likely change both front tires come morning. If one is that worn down, the other is most likely just as bad.



Bratfink said...

Before you drive off again, tighten up the lug nuts one more time.

My dad told me that. He was a mechanic.

And I mean before you drive to get new tires.

Kevin Kim said...

Oh, yes, I plan to. Minimize the Murphy.

Charles said...

Glad to hear the flat was not catastrophic.

John said...

Tire changing as literature. Well done, sir!

Kevin Kim said...

Thanks, Charles and John. I've got two new front tires, now, but I'm $164 poorer.