I had a flat tire two days ago. I noticed, or rather felt, it when I was reversing my car out of a parking lot in a multi-level parking garage across from my office around noon. That is my daily routine to go home to partake of the home-cooked lunch that my wife dutifully prepares for me, and also to enjoy some quiet moment together.
So this morning I drove up early to the Express Lane of the local Toyota Service Center, which starts business at 6 am. It was 6.15 am and I was third in line. Unfortunately, the attending mechanic had some bad news for me, the tire was damaged beyond repair as the leak occurred at the side. In addition, I was not entitled to a free tire change under the Tire for Life agreement that I have signed up upon purchase of the car from the dealer. Why? Because the tire thread has not reduced to 2/32 of an inch, which is the trigger point for a change of tire.
This is the fourth tire replacement that I’ve experienced since I bought the car just less than three years ago. The first time, a long nail went through its side and I didn’t even know when it happened. Probably a few days before as the tire was still pressurized when I noticed something sticking out from the tire.
The second was my fault when I just took my eye off the road for a second to adjust the rear-view mirror. As a result, the front wheel on the passenger side rubbed against the road curb, which is made of roughened concrete, and the abrasion was too much for the tire to bear. There was a loud noise when the tire blew up, sending the hub cap on an aerial flight over a hedge/fence into the compound of my apartment complex (I was only like another 30m from the front gate). Then I had that sickening feeling when the car continued to move forward under its momentum with the tire rim grating the road.
The third time was a different setting but the same result. I was following behind a truck on a 4-lane road and decided to take the inner lane, which was clear, to pass the truck. It was a crisp morning, especially after the previous night’s storm. Little did I know that some concrete debris had fallen onto the inner lane. Actually they are more like concrete blocks having the size of a football. And my line of sight was blocked by the truck, whose driver may have seen the “obstruction” ahead and thus stayed on the outer lane. And here I was thinking what an opportunity to pass the truck as the inner lane was clear of traffic behind me.
Not having time for my brain to register what my eyes saw and thus send a signal to my leg to press the brake (and I could not swerve to avoid as I was sandwiched between the truck and the road curb), my car literally climbed over the “mound” with a loud thud followed by the same sickening feeling for the second time. When I looked back, I noticed the concrete debris were actually part of a low concrete wall enclosing a house that had been damaged probably by an errant driver last night. It was then that I saw an old couple busy removing the concrete debris away from the road. Probably they had just “heard” my mishap and were doing a Samaritan bit to avoid repeat misfortunes.
So here I am, with a tire for life agreement on one hand, and four new tires on my car, none of which is the benefit of a free replacement pursuant to the agreement. That makes me wonder the wisdom of buying in advance the tire for life (I forgot how much it cost me then) warranty. Perhaps my case is typical and that the dealer knows from experience that rarely does a car owner end up with all four tires completing their useful lives due to normal wear and tear. On the other hand, I could be atypical and my style of driving somehow lends my car to such “unintended” abuses. But this would only be true half of the time, i.e., the two instances when I was behind the wheel.
On hindsight, I think I will definitely take my chances with my driving than buying into the tire for life thing in the future.
Where then is the pleasant surprise, you may wonder? Well, I actually hope the pleasant surprise will come tomorrow when the Panthers, of my D's school, will play in the State 4A Football final match, in the Dolphin Stadium in Miami, starting at 1.00 pm. And my D will be there, as part of the school's entourage to support the Panthers in their first ever championship game. That in itself is a pleasant surprise of sort as we did not think she is up to it, spending eight hours on the road to a place that she has never been. This morning the school had a huge send-off for the team early in the morning and posters were freely distributed. My D brought home this, courtesy of the St. Petersburg Times, spotting the quarterback with a pirate hat on a pirate ship of the Gasparilla fame (the colored beads worn around his neck are a dead giveaway). Gasparilla is the nickname of a famous Spanish pirate that is known as the "last of the buccaneers", and the Buccaneers is the name of the football franchise based in Tampa. So both terms are distinctly Tampa-ish. But there's where the similarity stops, as the Panthers are definitely doing much better than the Bucs on the football field.