Friday, July 14, 2006

Getting the Wheel Rolling

It’s always nice to start the day with a flat tire. It’s my own fault. I place too much loyalty on my truck, too much benefit of the doubt that it will always work properly because it always has and I don’t give it the due maintenance it deserves. The tire in question (left rear if it matters) had been low for some time, at it was just a case of supreme laziness that I didn’t get it fixed any sooner, but that isn’t to say that I didn’t try.

I have a small portable air tank in the garage that I use to inflate all of the various tires (jogging stroller, Natalie’s wagon, etc.), and it is always low itself because I can never get the air compressor at the gas station to fill it to capacity. Needless to say, it only had about 20 psi of air in it when I went to fill the 40 psi tire in error on my truck. I ended up sucking more air out until I was hovering near 25 psi.

After that, I stopped at the gas station and hooked up the air nozzle, which just exhaled onto the stem, like a gasping breath into the tire. More air was sucked out. Great. It would be another couple of days until I could find the time to get it taken care of, but the story started two years ago.

When, for the lack of attention to detail or forgetting all the steps of a procedure, I drove my truck with the e-brake fully engaged for about two miles on the way home from the AAA office. On top of which, I was towing one of the Volkswagens, so I didn’t really perceive the extra weight when I stepped on the gas. I noticed it was sluggish, but I just assumed it was the VW attached to the back that was causing my truck to pull hard. When I got home, smoke was coming from the rear wheel wells, and I thought I was sunk for sure.

After that, every time I stepped on the brakes, the front end would shimmy like it was completely out of alignment, and that shivering would transfer itself all the way up into the steering column and into my brain, causing untold amounts of exasperation. I took it into the dealership and they said it was unfixable, but they did their best to remedy it… somewhat of a band aid on an amputation, I guess. I left the dealership with them telling me that the problem would come back and haunt me in the next 10 thousand miles. It was sooner than that, the vibration returned. And wouldn’t you know it that I had just rolled over the 30,000-mile mark, that magic number that washes the hands of the Ford Motor Company of any responsibility to fix my problems. As a result, I had relegated myself to live with it, and I did for almost two years; every time I stepped on the brakes, I would fume a little, resenting the $30,000 purchase, my lack of attention to the e-brake when I would tow (which I now religiously release and habitually check, even when I’m driving), but most of all, I fumed at the dealership for not being able to fix an aspect of a truck they built. I would like to think that I could carry my truck into the service bay in a series of boxes and they could deliver me an assembled truck; I mean, that’s what they do, right?

Since, I barely wash my truck and I hardly ever give it much consideration, I never noticed that the front tires have completely worn themselves down to the base of the tread because of the vibration. Of course, you say, that makes sense that they would. It’s only rubber. I know, I know. There’s approximately an eighth of an inch left of tread on the front tires, and very little left of my patience. Since I’m a doomsayer, both tires will simultaneously explode, sheering the rubber from the rims, the next time I go on the freeway. However, it is like Wiley E. Coyote in that he won’t fall until he looks down, and my tires wouldn’t blow out if I didn’t know they were balding. Since now I know about them, I’m waiting to hear the popping sound at about 80-miles-an-hour.

Then the rear tire went flat, so I dragged it into my local tire place to get it fixed. It was a screw that I probably ran over a couple of weeks ago and the head finally wore off enough to let some air squeak out. While I was there, they recommended that I get a new set of tires for the front.

Great. Like I want to buy a new set of tires… but wait, maybe I do! (No, I really don’t) I’ve always wanted to do a few things to the truck, profile wise, sure, as I was disappointed from the beginning that the tires looked so small compared to the rest of the truck. And frankly, I avoided parking next to bigger trucks… call it truck envy, if you want, but they made my truck look small, so I’d find a nice Kia Rio to lord over. I have 16-inch wheels with 30-inch tires that hardly do the job of filling up the wheel well. So, why not new tires?

My last freelance gig, which rather fell out of the sky and hence I consider it windfall capital, could be used to finance a new tire/wheel/suspension lift package that will butch up the truck a bit. (I know, pay for a new water heater, no, but buy tires and wheels for the truck, a no-brainer, right?) It’s something I’ve always wanted.

While the tire was being patched, I spoke to the owner of the shop about a new set of wheels in addition to my new tires. He passed a couple of catalogs my way and I perused them, looking for just the right kind of wheel, something with a little pizzazz but nothing that would make it look like a sport truck. I wanted tough but flashy (the one I like is the Eagle 137 pictured here, traditional truck wheel with a little bit of flair).

And it snowballed from there, as do most things I endeavor to accomplish. One thing leads to another and I don’t leave the place without spending $3000 on upgrades. If I was going to get new wheels, I might as well get big tires, and if I was going to get big tires, I might as well get the truck lifted slightly and if I was going to get the truck lifted slightly, I might as well get bigger tires, and if I was going to get bigger tires, I might as well get wider wheels, and if I was going to get wider wheels…well, you see where I’m going with this. There comes a certain point that you should just say “stop.”

So, I’m going with a mild six-inch lift, 35-inch-tall tires (with a slight mud-profile, something very similar to the Toyo pictured here) and 17-inch wheel (10 inches wide), and I checked around at various places to see if it is a good deal or not. I’m paying a little less for the wheels and a little more for the tires and just right for the lift, so I feel I’m getting a good deal… plus, it feels good to buy something with windfall capital, like I’m getting it for free, right? Overall, it should raise the height of the truck by 12 inches or so, which doesn’t sound like much, but it will be enough to give it a nicer stance. On top of which, he’ll fix the brakes and was rather surprised that the dealer couldn’t (because they’re lazy idiots was his summary).

Why am I telling you all of this? I don’t know. Nothing is really that exciting in my life right now, I guess, which is fine because if it were, I wouldn’t have time to tell you about it. However, today was an especially dull day: play, eat, nap, diaper change, eat, nap… mommy comes home. Why didn’t I go somewhere? I don’t know, maybe it was the 114-degree weather my gauge claimed was the outside high temperature today. Even I was willing to turn on the air (but not until after 1pm, of course). On days like this, I understand why people live at the beach.

I’m not even wasting any time today by doing this. This is the highlight, prime time, rush hour.

And all I wanted was the tire fixed.

No comments:


web site tracking
Sierra Trading Post