Wednesday, October 12, 2005

yet another bad news/good news scenario

This morning DH had to leave early, so I was on kid duty. Got 'em up, fed, and all packed up for school, and we trekked out to the garage for the quick drive over.

I fastened DS2's seatbelt and as I was closing the door, I noticed that the left rear tire had lost at least 60% of its air. Yikes! I took a long look at it and decided that I could drive it a short distance without trashing the rim, so I took the kids to school, and then drove it over to the tire store.

I've been driving this van for close to six years now, and we've had our share of problems with the tires. I think the biggest mistake I made was letting the guy (at the same store) talk me into putting a narrower tire on the same rims -- the rims are for 225s, and he sold me a line that 215s would be just as good.

Now, about 25K later, just over half of the tires' expected 40K road life, they were showing such uneven wear that they were just not safe. When the tire jockey explained this to me, and showed me the wear on the treads, I immediately realized something and said, "Oh, so that explains all that vibration at highway speeds."

The car used to vibrate something fierce right around 70 mph. Since everyone here drives at least 70 mph unless there's a huge traffic jam, I used to feel that vibration every time I hit a freeway. We've had the tires rotated, balanced, pressure-checked, you name it. We've had the alignment checked. Everything checked out fine. D'ya think, maybe, that it was all caused by having the freakin' wrong size tire?

Well, I will say it did take a while for the problem to develop, but still.

So I shelled out close to $500 today for 4 new tires (225s, of course), and an alignment. Tire jockey extracted promises from me that I would rotate the tires frequently. Yes, sir!

Honestly, I'd say I don't know why I went back to that store since they sold me those bad tires in the first place, but I do know why I go back. Because they'll fix a flat for free, and they're always very respectful and accomodating. I'm sure the guy who sold me the smaller tires was just trying to save me some $$$, because I recall that the 225s were a lot more expensive than the 215s a few years ago.

So, bad news: had to spend a minor fortune on new tires.

Good news? Nary a wobble on the trip up to the doctor's today. How pleasant it was to feel rock-steady while cruising up the 101. Hooray for safe cars!

Other good news: when DH called this morning just to check in, I told him about the tire/alignment situation and gave him a ballpark estimate of $475. Can you guess the first thing he said? It surprised even me, but also re-affirmed my belief that I have the best husband ever: Oh, good. Then we talked about the uneven wear pattern, the highway wobble, and the need for more frequent future rotations. Not a word about the price -- but how could anyone quibble? DH insists that we be safe! I'm driving his entire family around, after all.

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