The Silver Fox says I have the worst luck with tires of anyone he’s ever known. Despite his proclivity for hyperbole and my natural resistance to it when I hear it…I’m inclined to take that statement at face value.
To wit: last Sunday night, I was driving up Sandy Blvd on the east side of the river and was getting excited that my nav was turning me onto NE 57th, as that 5-point intersection was this epic entity during my childhood in that neighborhood. I was considering whether my nav would take me off 57th onto Fremont and right past my childhood home on the corner of NE Fremont and 60th.
That’s when I heard was the airbrakes of a semi or bus misfiring nearby.
Instead of getting louder or fading away as the vehicle approached or receded, I was noticing more of a cyclical sound. I shut off my radio.
Then I opened my window. It was like a pressure release valve.
Then my dash gave my clueless ass the answer.
Low Tire Pressure.
“Rear drivers side? That’s different.” I’m not even surprised by that alarm from Angela anymore. No, it’s the location that surpass me.
And it was surprising. Of the three sets of tires I’d had since buying Angela three years ago – ooh, foreshadowing! – the majority of leaks I’ve had have been on the rear passenger side tire.
Hooray for noticing patterns.
It was dark. It had briefly stopped raining, and I had a leak in my tire that I could hear over traffic.
Gamely, I got my compressor out and tried refilling my tire. I could hear sir hissing out of the tire over the high pitched rumble of the compressor.
Because of my track record with leaks, I carry a can or two of fix-a-flat with me. I put it into the tire and pulled forward a hundred yards to spread it around and hopefully coat the hole. Reattaching the compressor, I tried filling the tire again to no avail.
I called a Lyft. I hadn’t opened either the driver or the rider apps since they boondoggled me off their driver platform last February, but it had been on my mind lately, since I become eligible to drive for rideshares in Portland again at the end of this month. I was conflicted for the duration of the ride, listening to the driver’s stories of mixed successes. Casually, I attributed her moderate enthusiasm to her own situation, mostly not driving when demand is highest because of her kid. The right decision – for her.
The next two days were absolute hell at work. Year end in a Payroll department of one…what can I say?
I was supposed to go into the office on Wednesday, but my car was still sitting on the roadside in northeast Portland about 70 blocks from me. Reluctantly, I asked my boss to use one of my banked holidays from working Christmas (observed) and Winter holiday (it was a payroll week) so I could get this taken care of. Unfortunately for me, it was another payroll week and I had to be available Wednesday morning to make any last minute corrections before she submitted the batch, but I could take a half day.
After my recent luck with tires, I’d taken the advice of the Silver Fox as well as a fellow blogger and stayed away from the Continental tire brand, which also meant staying away from the conveniently located Les Schwab tires, since that was the only brand they carried for my vehicle – and special ordering tires there was crazy expensive. This is how I ended up with my third set of tires – Bridgestones – coming from the Costco, courtesy of The Fox’s membership…in the next town over.
At least they had been on sale! I think the whole ordeal had come in several hundred dollars below the cost of the special order at Les Schwab, and under a grand. Oh, the winning!
Not so convinced now so much as I had been that Continentals were to blame as I was beginning to come around to the Silver Fox’s thinking that I had a tire jinx – not to mention the two courtesy patches I’d gotten from my neighborhood tire shop recently free of charge – I called Les Schwab to ask about my options. The thing is, I’d heard the one-tire tragedy often enough during my time waiting at Les Schwab for prior patches to know: one does not simply replace a single tire.
I ended up speaking to the manager of the shop. He told me that 30k miles into an 80k warranty put me in an iffy place. If I was at 70% tread depth, I could just replace the one – which surprised me. Then he hit me with the story I was more familiar with: with an all wheel drive car like mine, the recommendation was always to replace the set.
I’d convinced myself that part of the schtick was always to leverage their in-house financing. That’s the part that always made me feel creepiest to witness.
Then he said two things that surprised me.
First, that I should stop by their shop over on 29th & Sandy and pick up a tread depth gauge since it was close to where my car was stranded. If I was over 70%, I should take it back to Costco for a warranty replacement. Second, if it was under 70%, bring it to them because the warranty wouldn’t matter and there was no point in paying extra to have my car towed further to Costco.
So I did.
I’d forgotten how much I liked riding the bus in Portland. Reluctantly, I got off at 29th instead of riding the bus all the way up Sandy to where I hoped Angela was still in one piece.
When I asked for a tread depth gauge, the person I was talking to immediately started walking toward the door, all assurances that he could help me. Knowing my car wasn’t in their lot, I followed him, since my choice was talk to his back or talk to no one. Once he realized I wanted to borrow or buy one, he started talking to me like he wasn’t sure he was looking at the more dominant of my two heads.
Great. I’d gotten off my bus 30 blocks early for nothing. I checked my phone app and walked toward the next stop along my route. When I arrived, I saw the bus was still five minutes away and decided to walk to the next stop.
Then I remembered what I didn’t love about riding transit as the bus passed me a block from the next stop three minutes before it was supposed to be at the previous stop. Fine. It’s only 20 more blocks, I’ll just walk it.
It started raining.
I really don’t know how I don’t win a lottery. You’d think my cumulative bad luck would circle back to good luck at some point.
Knowing how long it had taken to get a tow when my alternator/battery had crapped out on me at the beginning of 2022, I decided to use my spare time setting up a tow. The guy told me 30 minutes, just as I was closing the last block or two to where I’d left Angela’s fate to the whims of Portland’s mercurial population.
Surprisingly, she was intact. Well, mostly.
Since it was now daylight – and I had 24 minutes yet to kill – I started looking for the source of the leak strong enough for me to hear and feel.
Of course, I had to pull forward…
I had some time to kill before RedKing towing showed up, so I texted my roadside savior from last year – Diezel – to tell him that inflation was fake news. It was only costing me $20 more this year to have my car towed. He then told me that it was exactly one year ago to the day that he’d helped me off the side of the road. Well, him and another tow truck.
Does that strike anyone else as weird timing?
Anyway. Two more surprises: first, the guy at RedKing towing with the Russian accent didn’t name his company RedKing as a nod to his heritage, his last name is Redkin. Second, he was on fucking time! And took less than 10 minutes to get my car on his flatbed – versus the 35 it took last time.
Once I got to the Costco, I learned they didn’t have my tire in stock, but could have it there the next day, Thursday. They were oddly optimistic they could patch my tire, but ordered a full set anyway. A move I was certain was done just to drive me into a conspiracy spiral. They told me I would be ready the next day and they’d call me.
Unfortunately, they called at 4:40 and I had plans to drink my dinner with a friend at 6, so I put them off til Friday after work.
Oh, and they had to replace the tire, but the road hazard warranty covered most of the cost of the tire do it was only $168 for that tire.
But they had to replace the other rear tire, too, at a minimum since the tread was at 50%. For whatever reason, the road hazard clause only covers one tire, despite the pressure to replace the set. My total for the two tires was going to be $447. I was strangely relieved, even though I was having trouble figuring out how the second tire cost $279 and the warranty covering $111 of the first tire was most of the cost.
I came to to the question of whether I wanted them to go ahead and replace the front tires since they had an extra day…and had ordered the full set of tires. Oh, and the recommendation for all-wheel…yeah, yeah.
That would be $1018…somehow costing even more per tire.
“No, but I imagine I’ll be back for them soon enough, given my luck.” I was not down for a fourth full set of tires in 35 months.
My tech told me that to that end, they were putting the patched passenger side tire in my trunk so I’d have a spare if one of the front tires went south. I kind of appreciated that. They didn’t have to do that.
At the same time, I don’t want to encourage my bad tire carma, so I’m not sure I really want it. I have it, though.
More specifically, the Silver Fox’s parking spot will have it as soon as I unload it. Hahahaha.
What? If he could blame Les Schwab for selling me bad tires before, he talked me into Costco tires. Ergo, he’s clearly complicit and can store the tire!
No? Fine, agree to disagree.