In 2-1/2 months we leave for our second extended post-retirement trip out west. Seven thousand miles in four months with a focus on southern Utah, northern New Mexico, southwest Colorado and northern Arizona. And that doesn’t count sightseeing in the truck.
Given gas prices and my 94-year-old Mom’s health, this may be our last extended trip for a few years. But at 70 years of age, forever isn’t really in our vocabulary anymore (not being morbid just honest).
This trip also made us think hard about tires (not something I normally think much about). I’m more interested in funny stories, bird pictures, and pretty much anything else.
Last year we had two tire blowouts on our 2019 Winnebego Minnie 2500FL trailer. Suddenly we knew that to a large degree, our safety depended on those rubbery round things underneath our vehicle.
Tire blowouts in North Dakota and Florida
Our first blowout was on I-94 halfway between Fargo and Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. It could have happened to anyone, it wasn’t really the tire’s fault. We were moving down the road at a safe 65 mph and a car drove by with the passenger miming EXPLOSION!!!! We didn’t hear anything. Our tire monitoring system didn’t go off. But when we pulled over, one of our trailer tires was completely shredded. Turns out the driver in front of us dropped steel roofing debris from his vehicle.
We were fine. We just pulled onto the side of the road and in about 45 minutes Keith had switched out the bad tire for the spare. (When it comes to cars I am afraid, we are very pre-feminist. Keith fixes them and I feed him in thanks.)
Our second blowout was on I-75 in Florida. We have no idea what caused the blowout but we heard the explosion (It was a lot more than a pop. These are very big tires.) Again it took Keith 45 minutes to change the tire and we were on our way.
Imagining the worst
This time we really thought about the “What ifs.”
What if we didn’t have a spare?
What if it blew when we were traveling through Houston during rush hour?
What if we were on the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York with no shoulder?
What if we were coming down a mountain in Utah or rounding a hairpin curve with nothing but a cliff on the outer edge?
I scared myself silly. For a positive person, it sure is easy to envision worst-case scenarios.
But that isn’t the end of our tire story. Last week our mechanic (John at Stoney Creek Auto Service in Branford. CT) found out we were going to tow 11,000 lbs up and down mountains in Utah. He strongly recommended we get new light truck tires for our truck. We had to listen to him.
We found John 25 years ago on the Car Talk National Public Radio website. It provided a list of honest mechanics in the U.S!
( Best Car Talk show of all time was when the astronaut had a problem with his vehicle and called in for advice from outer space. But I digress.)
Tires are expensive, but I guess it’s essential we invest in our safety. That is why we’re sitting here in the tire store drinking bad coffee and watching a dopey game show on TV. The monitor says we’ll be sitting here for 2-1/2 hours so it’s going to be a while.
By the way, for the technically minded (Keith) and financially minded (me), the truck tires are Michelin Defender LTX Light Truck Tires. We were told when we tow we should pump them up 7 psi higher than the recommended amount. Cost: $1,293 (ouch)
Next month we’ll get Goodyear Endurance for the trailer and probably drop another $1,500. who says RVing is inexpensive. Not!