Flat Tire History

Oh shoot.  What does that light mean?  It’s always something isn’t it?  Tire pressure.  Low tire pressure.  If it were flat it would be making a thumping noise.  I’ll check it when I get to my destination.  When I got this vehicle a year or so ago the same light was on.  How bad could it be?

Put some air in the tire.  Light goes off.  Cool.  Then, much to my chagrin, the light comes back on in a couple of days.  A cycle that repeated itself several times before I came up with a better solution.  The tires looked new.  Certainly I don’t need new ones.  Lets try this.  I let it go for a few more days to see if any of the tires actually looked flat, or flattened.  Sure enough.  Left rear looks a little low.  Well, it looked a lot low but was still working ok.  At least now I know its just one tire, and not all four.  The light doesn’t say which tire.

Another step in the repair process.  I put new valve stem caps on.  Had to do that for all four tires.  It would have looked funny if only one had the new cap.  Although, one time I lost a hubcap so I bought two the same and replaced the two on the driver’s side of the car.  Passenger’s side was different but you couldn’t tell unless you walked around and looked.  Pretty smart, eh?  The new stem caps improved the looks of the tires a little bit, if nothing else.  Still leaking. 

Ok.  So you wanna play tough.  Here is a can of fix-a-flat for you!  That fixed it.  Until now anyway.  I’ll have to see what happens this time around.  Back a few dozen years ago my father taught me about tires.  Not so much about troubleshooting flats.  More about changing the offending tire.  How to get out the jack and the spare.  Loosen the lug nuts.  Put the new tire on.  Tighten the nuts, just right so they all had equal tension.  Then taking the flat to the tire fix it guy at the local service station. 

Yes, back then we had service stations where they pumped the gas for you, checked the oil and did real repairs.  There are still a few of these, but now its mostly self-serve mega stations.  Repair shops don’t do gas anymore.

Knowing about changing a tire is one of those things its good to be clued in on, but you hope you never have to apply that bit of knowledge.  Kind of like CPR.  But one night I was tested, and glad I could do it in the dark with my eyes closed.  I didn’t want to see what was going on around me.  Night and dark.  Interstate highway in a major city.  My wife was in the car with me when we heard a bang and then the thump, thump, thump of the flat.  I was in the center lane and had to scoot to the shoulder.  I barely made it across the road while dodging the tractor-trailers.

On the side of the road, maybe three feet from the traffic, in the dark of night, I get out the jack.  Of course the flat was on the drivers side.  I had a small car, with teeny tiny warning flashers.  I don’t know if you could see them from more than ten feet away.  The trucks didn’t seem to see me at all.  The blast of wind when they blew past was almost enough to knock me over as I crouched by the car fiddling with the tire.  I finally finished, caught my breath and said a thankful little prayer.

Glad my dad taught me how to do that.  Now, as a dad myself, I thought it was a good idea for my daughters to know how to do this.  I got my chance when they blew a tire on the road.  Not a freeway.  And they were able to get way off the road.  And they had cell phones to call me.  They just didn’t know where they were! 

We got that figured out and I was able to get the tire changed, while they both watched.  And off they went, smarter than before.  They know about jumping batteries, oil changes, checking fluids and all that kind of stuff.  Just some of the basics, but enough not to be helpless.

There is a lot of information to be passed down through generations.  Car repair instructions.  Home repairs.  How to start a campfire.  And yes, the family history.  How much history has been lost due to someone not passing info along?  Where did that missing link fellow go?  You get the idea.  Tell your stories.  Write them down.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?  http://www.personalhistorywriter.com

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