Tire tales from car driving and big truck driving…

Why is it that when I get a nail in my car tire it’s always in a place, near the sidewall, where they can’t fix it?

Well it seems that way, at any rate.

Bought two new tires today (yesterday at least by the time you read this). My right front tire — the one that couldn’t be fixed — had a nail in it, and the other front tire was starting to separate.

It seemed strange to me. Thought I just bought tires. But the man told me that actually two of my tires were bought in 2005. The other two I bought last July and September.

When he looked at those older tires he remarked: “we don’t sell those anymore”. Well too bad. They did seem to last me awhile.

But I’m not really complaining. I usually get tires at Les Schwab, and I like their service. And I got a hefty discount.

They don’t seem to come running like they used to, but they still seem to offer the best service around, or at least as good as anyone else.

(I’m not usually into promoting private business, but since getting good service for anything anywhere is so hard to do these days, I figure it would not hurt to recognize something positive where it exists.)

Yeah, they used to actually come running — literally — out to your car as soon as you drove up.

And as a big truck driver I have had particularly good service from them out on the road, both when I drive into one of their shops or when they come out for road service. I’ve always found their road guys to be quick and efficient. I’ve seen them replace an outside tire without even taking the wheel off plenty of times.

One time up on Highway 97 in Oregon I pulled into a Less Schwabb in the wee hours of the morning before opening time. I crawled into my sleeper and when I awoke the guy was already at work fixing my tire. Now that’s service. And I had not even called them or had any contact with them (he could spot a bad tire, though) .

And another time I was at a truck stop and had a bad tire, but the road guy told me that at that particular truck stop they did not let outside tire guys do their work there. That truck stop had a shop. But that shop was overpriced. So the road service guy had me pull out on to the on ramp to the freeway and he fixed it there — now that’s absurd, on the truck stop’s part, I think.

And I can tell you some of the major truck stops charge plenty just to fix a tire. But there is one truck stop in Oregon on I-5 that is reasonable. I recall having had to have a tire fixed there several years ago when the big boys were charging something like $30 or more and at this one I got a tire fixed for something like $6 (these figures are just approximate and according to my memory, but I can tell you the price spread is the same today).

At the trucking company where I work we used to have a tire guy who took his responsibility to the owner quite seriously and wanted to make sure the drivers did not waste tire dollars out on the road. He told me one time that the policy was that before I ever got a tire fixed or replaced that he be called, day or night, and he gave me his home number.

When the hapless tire guy out there called him in the middle of the night, he demanded: “who gave you my number?!”

He was always telling me to bring the bad tire back with me. So one time I’m hauling this old tire in my trailer but forgot it was there. I opened my back doors to back into a dock from a street up in Portland, Or. and still did not realize that tire was there. It went rolling down the street. Someone came up to me with it and asked me if it was my tire. Fortunately it did no damage to anyone.

Another time I neglected to bring back the old tire and he got mad. So the next time I was at the truck strop where I got it replaced I got the guy to give me an old discarded one and turned it in — same difference, I guess.

For a time we used to get calls at home with people asking about tires. They kept asking if we were a tire place, the name of which I don’t recall. But I finally looked that name up on the internet and sure enough it had our home phone number. The next time I got a call, I started to give the person a line as a joke, but my conscience got the better of me, and when the older sounding lady on the other end of the line asked what was she to do, I simply directed her to the nearest Les Schwab.


And this has nothing to do with my favorite tire place, but for my part I have no use for recaps which are often put on big trucks, especially on trailers. Nearly all those big tire shreds you see on the highways the truckers call “alligators” are from recaps. For my part I think they should be outlawed. They are a safety problem. I saw one come of a big truck one time and then a car ran over it and then it went flying and busted the windshield of another car — fortunately that driver was able to safely pull over to the side of the road. But the trucker (not me, I swear) was probably oblivious to what had happened. At any rate he was long gone. And that is all I have to say about tires at this time, except that I am sure that with modern technology they could make tires that would never go flat or blow out, but then that would be the ruin of the tire business.

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