Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Near Death Experience

... and what you can learn from it!

Sometimes I like to post about happenings in my life, and I feel like I have to tell you all about my near death experience this weekend. This story should prove to you why it is CRUCIAL to have your tires checked often. I used to think that it wasn't that important; but after this experience, I will not be going out on the road without double checking them.

My friend and I were on our way back to school from Easter break. It was getting to be late at night (10ish) and she was too tired to drive so I took over the wheel. Her car drives very differently from mine and vibrates constantly. She assured me that this was normal, but I knew that it shouldn't be. I lost control of the vehicle at 70 mph and swerved off the side of the highway. Thinking that we had just had a flat tire, I look out on my side to notice that the bumper is hanging on the ground!! Here is what we found...


Yes, at first we thought that someone had swerved into us and hit the bumper... but that was not the case. After calling a guy friend that was only 10 miles ahead of us (THANK THE LORD!), he turned around to come to our aid. We were able to make it off the side of the highway and to a gas station were we could better evaluate the situation.


The conclusion was made that our accident had been cause by improper tire care. The entire tread to the back tire is sitting on the highway somewhere in Nashville right now! I am sure you are wondering how we limped back to school?! Well... we had a full spare, so we changed that. Then we needed to address the bumper issue. Duct tape is one of the single best inventions. Check out our body work... and the tape even blends in with the paint color! ha!


Now for the moral of the story. Here is an article that I found from Popular Mechanics on the top 5 reasons that your tires could fail. Please make sure to have your tires maintained and properly inflated so that you don't have to almost loose a bumper (or something worse!).

As the old TV commercial says, there's a lot riding on your tires. Indeed, tires could well be the most important system on your vehicle, given that they affect every performance parameter from handling and acceleration to braking and ride comfort. So it's no surprise that maintenance on your tires should command as much respect, if not more, than on all the other parts and systems of your car. Trouble is, most drivers just don't think about the condition of their tires. As I've mentioned before in discussing the whole Barack Obama tire inflation thing, a Department of Transportation study dating back to 2001 features some pretty eye-popping numbers: 60 to 80 percent of cars on the road are running tires underinflated by as much as 10 percent, 20 to 50 percent of them are driving with tires down in pressure by as much as 20 percent, and 10 to 30 percent of these cars have tires with pressure as low as 30 percent of the recommended pressure. Underinflation is just one reason a tire can fail. Here are four more. —Mike Allen

1. They're Old

Check the tire sidewall for the manufacturer's date code. It will be in the form of a four-digit number, stating the month and year the tire was produced. Unfortunately, there's no equivalent to an expiration date. And it's not a good idea to install tires on your vehicle that have been sitting on a warehouse shelf for many years. A decent rule of thumb is not to purchase tires more than five years old. And five years in service on your vehicle is plenty, totaling 10 years. Your mileage may vary.

2. They're Underinflated

Tires that have too little pressure in them run hot—much hotter than properly inflated ones. The pressure in the tire keeps the tread and sidewalls from flexing. Friction from this flexing generates heat, and that degrades the rubber and the fabric construction of the tire. And don't be fooled by the appearance of the tires. It's impossible to see if your tires are underinflated without using a tire pressure gauge. The proper pressures are printed on a sticker on the driver's door frame or inside the glovebox. They are also in the owner's manual.

3. They're Overinflated

The tire inflation pressures printed on the tire sidewall are the tire manufacturer's maximum permitted pressure, not necessarily what the vehicle manufacturer recommends. Overinflated tires will have poor grip, and the tread will wear prematurely in the center.

4. They're Deteriorated

Ozone, road chemicals and ultraviolet light degrade the rubber. But this is probably more of a problem for RV and trailer tires mounted on vehicles that are stored outside in the sun, especially in the Southwest. Tire covers will keep the UV rays at bay longer. Avoid ozone damage by not storing unused tires near any ozone sources like electrical equipment or motors, pool chemicals or the like—especially indoors. Tire sidewall rubber is permeated with oils that are designed to leach out slowly and protect the rubber. Detergents or aftermarket protectants will remove these oils prematurely. A certain amount of weather-checking (alligator-like cracks in the sidewalls) is normal. If the cracks are down to the fabric sidewall plies, it's time to retire that tire.

5. They're Damaged

Any foreign object that penetrates the tire far enough to cause a leak is sufficient reason to require the tire to be removed from the rim and inspected by a tire technician for damage to the inside of the carcass. An externally applied plug or worm should be considered a temporary repair. A proper repair involves patching the tire from the inside with a plug that not only holds air but prevents water from infiltrating into the carcass's belt plies. Water in this part of the tire will make it weaker. It's not really possible to repair a tire sidewall.

15 comments:

Lou Lou said...

So glad you're okay! Thanks for this info, I will definitely be paying closer attention to my tires from now on!

capperson said...

I'm glad you are okay!!

Katie said...

that sounds absolutely terrifying! for anyone who reads this -- invest in a $0.97 tire pressure gauge to keep in your car and know how much air to keep in your tires. it's simple to do and can save your life.

inkOBSESSIONdesigns said...

I'm so glad you are okay!

Pink Martini said...

Wow! Thanks for the reminder. It's so easy to put it on the back burner. Glad everyone is okay.

Needs Help said...

I am so glad you are ok!! Good tips for everyone to know!

Gracie Beth said...

my dad checked my tires right before I left to come back to school and found that I had 2 nails in one!

GraceKelly said...

I'm so glad you're okay! Thanks for the good advice, as well. I'm pretty bad about taking care of my car. Thankfully, my dad had checked my tires before I drove back to school.

KAC said...

I'm so glad you're ok! Thanks for the great reminder...I have to drive home at the end of school so I will definitely get my tires checked before then!!

Petunia said...

How scary! Glad you are okay. Thanks for the reminder to check my tires!!

Her Preppiness said...

Glad that you are ok!!!! I am paranoid about my tires ever since I had a flat tire on the New York State thruway in 1977 driving from Philadelphia to Saratoga.

Preppy Sue said...

Scary, glad you are both okay.

Hubby and I are big fans of regular car maintenance, while it can be costly it is well worth the investment.

Leah said...

Oh my! I'm so glad you're OK! My husband is always on my case to check my tires. Now I know why!

Katy said...

I'm glad you are ok.

One time something like that happened to my aunt when we were visiting. The tire literally shredded into pieces. Luckily we were able to pull off onto the side of the road quickly.

Hipster Prep said...

Glad everyone was okay! People kept telling me that I need new tires and I have been putting it off .. until now!