I know he can't understand a word I say but it made me feel better. We were on the last leg of our first day of the two day trip returning home after visiting Mom in NC. We were both tired and hot and ready to be OUT OF THE CAR.
"What the H was THAT?" (If you believe for a minute I said "H" I have a very nice piece of real estate I would love to sell you)
I heard a loud bang as a semi was passing me. My first thought was "backfire." My second thought was "Blow out" when I had trouble steering.
I pulled over, ran around the car and started screaming. Of course, no one could hear me. We were on the side of the road on I-81 at about mm 309. Just outside of Winchester Virginia. Traffic was fast, heavy and LOUD
I had a blow out.
Lucky for me, a very nice passer by stopped on the side of the road, backed up and came to help. He helped me unload the crap from the Sewing Machine Chariot, and we found the spare (a REAL tire I might add) and the jack. What a wonderful young man. Then the Service Truck pulled up. HUGE RELIEF. With his bright flashing lights, drivers had some idea we were in trouble. The WYM was then able to be on his way after making sure I was OK.
But let me tell you that it was scarey. The traffic was heavy and no one slowed down or pulled over into the left lane. The gentleman who helped me admitted that his job is dangerous. Just the same he was an ANGEL. I don't use that term lightly. He was very sincere. And he was very efficient. In less than 30 minutes I was on my way again.
"No, you probably shouldn't drive without a spare," Steven said when I told him. I stopped at an Auto parts store to ask if anyone there knew of a tire center.
"Exit 5 in Hagerstown at Valley Mall. There's a Sears at the front of the Mall and a Firestone at the back." said the very nice woman who clearly knew the area.
At 0600 this morning I was up and unpacking the blown out tire from its compartment. I wanted to be waiting and ready on Firestone's doorstep when they opened.
"Are you coming or going" asked a very nice gentleman out for his morning walk and smoke.
"Going home. Had a blow out on I-81 yesterday, gotta get me a spare."
He looked at the tire, declared it a goner, and agreed that it was unusual for a tire to blow the side wall out.
"I gotta take a picture of this and send it to my husband."
"What, so you can worry him?"
"He's not a worrier. Really." I assured the very nice Canadian gentleman. By then we had conversed enough for me to hear that distinctive accent.
He gave me a look that told me he WAS a worrier. I took the photo anyway.
At 0700 I was at the Firestone store; two hour wait.
"How can I help you?" said a very nice woman at the Sears Auto Center.
They opened at 0730 and I was there promptly. I told her I just wanted one tire mounted on the rim I had in the car. She recommended that I buy two tires (DUH) but I agreed. It made sense. Why try to drive 300 miles with one brand new tire on one wheel and a worn out tire on the other? So I did. I bought two new tires and put the spare back in the car. They were really wonderful at Sears. If you ever need a tire in Hagerstown, Maryland, go to Sears. They are efficient, courteous and kind. Friendly too. You can sit in the waiting area and, through a large window, watch the mechanics work.
In just over an hour my car was ready.
I wanted to stash the spare in its storage compartment for the trip. One more time (third time's a charm) I unpacked and re-packed the back of the car, as Wilson watched from the back seat. Ever wonder what dogs are thinking?
While I was waiting, I googled "Tire Side Wall Blow out." and learned that when you have a blow out at high speeds DO NOT jam on the brakes. This is counter intuitive. It is recommended that you actually accelerate a bit to maintain forward momentum of the car. Grasp the steering wheel with both hands and gently slow down and steer off the road. None of us are going to be able to process all of that in the moment of panic after hearing a very loud bang. But I was lucky in that I didn't realize at first what was going on and I actually did not jam on the brakes. I doubt I accelerated but I always drive with two hands on the wheel (10 and 2). I was lucky I didn't end up in the ditch. Dang Lucky.
Another counter intuitive point about tire side wall blow outs: they occur not due to OVER inflation but due to under inflation. Under inflation allows too much flex in the wall of the tire which causes the layers to separate and become weakened. Keep your tires inflated to the recommended pressure and check them before a long trip. I relied on the idiot light to let me know. I probably should have checked them with the gauge as well. It probably doesn't hurt to do a visual check too.
And one last thing. Restrain your pets when they are in the car. I was so glad that Wilson had on his seat belt. I didn't have to worry that he would jump out of the car as I was fumbling, in my panic, for the spare. He just sat in the back seat and watched. Never a peep out of him. What a reasonable dog.
We are home now. Steven greeted me with open arms, ate dinner with me and then drove off to compete in a swim race tomorrow. Wrigley seems to have missed me. Frannie could care less and Wilson does seem bewildered even now. He is probably anticipating more road time tomorrow. Good luck fella. I am not getting in a car until I have to go to work on Tuesday.