My Hunting Trip Tire Saga
Thursday was interesting. My brother Joe and I were on our way to the Black Hills. I was going to hunt deer. He and my dad, who was driving separately, were just going to winter camp with me. I was really excited to go.
A few miles outside of Humboldt my truck started dinging with a warning light and message that said "Right Rear Tire Pressure Low." I didn't think anything of it because I have had a bad tire pressure sensor for a couple of months and didn't want to pay the $100-plus to fix it. However previously it said "Service Tire Pressure System." Now it was being specific.
About a mile later the truck started to vibrate as we cruised at 75 miles-per-hour. My brother, a former mechanic, immediately said "Slow down, pull over! You're losing a tire!"
By the time he finished those words my truck was pulling to the right and and making an awful noise that came from the right rear tire.
The damage was stellar. The wheel had completely cut the sidewall of the tire. Joe checked out the tire and discovered a nail sticking out of it. The leak was fast because the warning light had only been on for maybe a minute before we knew we had a blown tire.
So this really blows. I need a new tire and we're stranded right next to the golf ball and tee water tower. No problem, we'll get the spare out and go get the tire fixed.
Dammit! The Spare is flat. Now I need two tires because I'm not going to the remote areas of the Black Hills without a reliable spare. Plus the truck is still stuck on I-90.
We drove very slowly on the flat spare as far as Joe thought we could which was a little over a mile to the bottom of the Humboldt off ramp. I took off on my mountain bike and trailer with the blown tire to take to the auto shop in Humboldt. They didn't have the tires on hand so we had to wait for them to arrive from Sioux falls.
Realizing that it would take forever for me to ferry tires back and forth I told Joe to just drive the last mile on the slowly shredding spare that was already garbage. He was able to make it to the shop without damaging the spare wheel. If he had I would have just replaced it. I was gambling on being able to leave for the Hills as soon as possible.
The two tires arrived relatively quickly. My existing tires were put on almost exactly two years ago, right before the East River Deer season in 2015. I had them take the good tire off the rear left and put that on the spare wheel. Then install the two new tires on the back. After a three and a half hour delay, which I thought could have reasonably been longer, we were back on the road.
I kicked myself at first. Why the hell didn't I pull over when the low pressure light came on? After thinking about it for a while I realized I wouldn't have. I've had that light come on before when it turned cold and it just needs a little air. My brother agreed that he, a much more car savvy dude than me, probably wouldn't have pulled over right away either.
You might think "Well, you should have checked out your tires before you left!" They were fine. We picked up the nail on the highway. But I'm going to be more diligent about checking tires in the future.
The lesson I learned, pull over and check it out. I could have saved myself a lot of money. However, this was still a better result that just getting a flat in the middle of nowhere on a forest service road that was a two hour mountain hike from a cell signal. I could have been stranded for a long time.