Sunday, June 17, 2007

It's the tire, stupid!

My car was a couple of months old when I moved from New Jersey, the Garden State, to Arizona.....dusty Arizona. Shortly after moving here I started having problems with my car. When the car started shaking I assumed I would probably need an alignment - the car had been like that since I had one of my tires changed a little over a year ago and I had pretty much ignored it. You see, my tire blew out in the middle of the highway on my way to a job interview. The car was in such good shape then that I barely noticed the problem, I just heard a bang and a loud noise that continued for a couple of miles, but since I was in some sort of raised highway and the noises do change as you change road types, I simply ignored it........what?, the car didn't move! I didn't feel a difference at all, and I was going over 70 mph! Anyway, by the time somebody caught up to me and was able to point at the problem, the tire was useless so I had to replace it. Ever since, my car has been shaking a little, specially when I go over 70 mph, but I assumed I had done some damage by driving with a bad tire for a couple of miles so I just ignored it until I could afford to go to the mechanic. Well, it's been a little over a year and ever since the brakes were changed a couple of months ago, the situation has become increasingly worse until I finally decided to do something about it. Took it to a trustworthy mechanic whom, after thoroughly checking the car in my presence pronounced the problem to be the tire. Ha! I was so skeptical! The tire? What does that has to do with the alignment? But heck, he's the mechanic, let's humor him. As he explained it, the fact that the one replacement tire was different from the other three, although the same size, it would make a difference, so I was better off by buying two matching tires and replacing the mismatched ones. So I went to the tire place to inquire about price and that's when I found out that I had one tire not like the others, and I'm not talking brand here. Who knew that there's more to size than what's actually printed on the tire?

Tire Guy: Who sold you these?
Me: hmm, you did...
Tire Guy: Well, my guys didn't pay attention because they gave you a D tire when this car clearly needs H tires
Me: Uh?
Tire Guy: Different type, it would make a difference
Me: I did notice that the car started shaking right after the new tire was installed!

A pause here to ponder.............why the heck didn't I go back and mention to them what was obvious to me from the start? That the car started shaking the minute they put a new tire on? Ah, because I trusted them to know what they were doing it, and I blamed myself for something I imagined I had done to the car, the way I drive, the Arizona dust, you name it! The lesson here, again, never assume anything!! Would it have cost me anything to go back and have them check it? NO, but I was afraid to look like I didn't know what I was talking about so I let it go.

Tire Guy: Let's go inside so I can give you some options
Me: Okay
Tire Guy: Two of your tires and in bad shape, and that other one you have to replace - we can use it as a spare tire
Me: So I came for two tires, now I need three.....we may as well just put all four tires and save me similar problems in the future, don't you think? Get me the same, Dunlop or Michelin.....I won't take anything else, this is Arizona after all (ha! how quickly I would change my mind!)
Tire Guy: Okay, here are the prices
Me: Is that just for one tire?!
Tire guy: Yeap
Me: Hmm, can you get me something good a bit less expensive but not as cheap as the one you got me before.....the one that got me in trouble?
Tire guy: for the H type we have these.....we don't have them in the lower quality, like the one they sold you before
Me: The one you guys sold me before......okay, what's the total for all four?
Tire guy: With replacement guarantee, installation, for four tires.....
Me: We're talking here almost $500!!
Tire guy: We can have your car out in 45 minutes
Me: Dude, do I look like I have $500 spare change in my pocket? I would have to think about it, do some research and get back to you!
Tire guy: That's all fine, but I don't recommend driving any longer on those tires
Me: Don't jinx me, scare tactics will not work on me - I've been driving fine with these up until now. They need changing, but it's not happening today.
Tire guy: Thanks for your time, here's my card, call me when you're ready
Me: Will do

What can I say? If you car starts shaking, would you know that there's a possibility that you have one wrong tire? Wouldn't you promptly assume the alignment is off or the tire pressure is low? Well, you learn something new every time and I'm passing along the knowledge.

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