February 22, 2008

Unwelcome sounds

I parked the car and turned off the engine, got out and heard: "HSSSSSSSSS!" I mean, LOUD. Coming from the front left tire. I put my hand down by the fender and could feel the blast of air. So I jumped back in and hurried (slowly and carefully, that is) down the block to the auto shop before the tire went flat as a pancake.

Whatever I rolled over had pretty much wrecked the sidewall and I ended up having to get a new tire. (With less than 5,000 miles on them--practically brand spanking new--I wasn't getting two).

Later I tried to find what I'd rolled over, but with all this blasted snow half-melting and turning to sheets of ice, it was a futile effort. So I parked elsewhere. A few days later when the snow finally stopped falling and the temperature finally got back to the 40s where it's supposed to be, the culprit revealed itself.

My travails were over in less than an hour (though my wallet was much lighter than I'd hoped). I noticed something I hadn't before. They rotated the back tires to the front. My typical experience with changing tires is they whip the lug nuts off and on with an air impact wrench.

This time, though, after using the air impact wrench, the guy working on my car lowered the lift and went around to all four tires with a torque wrench. And then another mechanic went around with a torque wrench, all twenty lug nuts. I think he had to sign off on it too.

This has got to be a liability thing. I've heard stories on Car Talk about people having their tires fall off after a tire rotation or change. That'd be a major insurance hit. I found the redundancy quite reassuring.