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Author Topic: My tire fell apart on the highway!
pH
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A new tire. It was only put on the car 2 weeks ago. I was driving along, and all of a sudden I noticed that it didn't feel right. Then all of a sudden, I smelled burnt rubber. I had to keep driving until there was a shoulder.

The tire broke in two. The outside part (the tread?) detatched itself from the rubber that sticks to the rim.

I called Onstar, who wanted me to get out of the car and get the VIN number off the windshield. I told them that there was no way in hell I would do that, since I was 3 feet away from 85 mile an hour traffic. I stayed locked in the car until someone got there to help and further blocked traffic with his big truck. Then I stayed on the inside, with the car between me and the highway.

I don't know what happened to it! It's a brand new tire! [Mad]

Anyway. Bad day for me. [Frown]

-pH

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MightyCow
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Sounds scary. I wouldn't have wanted to get out of the car either.

I saw a TV show the other day on re-treading tires. They glue the tread onto an old tire. I wonder if your tire store sold you a re-treaded tire which wasn't done properly. On the other hand, maybe some new tires do that too. I hope you can get to the bottom of it.

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B34N
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Call the place that installed it and request your money back and reimbussment for any other damages due to the failure of the tire.
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pH
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I don't know HOW I didn't lose control of the car, but I'm really, really glad I didn't. Maybe from the 4motion thing...supposedly it compensates if it notices one wheel being weird.

My boyfriend bought the tire, and I paid him back...so I have to wait until I can talk to him. But if my rim is bent, I want a new one. [Frown] I just got the rim, too!

-pH

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B34N
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was it a pimped rim, if so I woul ddefinitely get your boyfriend to go back to the place nad have them replace both free of charge.
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BlueWizard
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Assuming you bought more than one tire for your car, I would go back to the dealer and insist that they put the equivalent tire from a different brand on your car. It's is possible your other tires are OK, but if there is a problem, then it is probably due to a bad batch from the factory. You can't really determine if your other tires are from that same batch.

So, switch brands. If the dealer refuses, tell him you will take him to court and sue for damages. If he still refuses, then do it.

If you paid with a credit card, call you credit card company and complain to them. They will withhold the funds from the tire store until the dispute is resolved.

So, get new tires of a different brand, or verify that your other tires and the replacement tire are not from the same bad lot.

Just a thought.

Steve/bluewizrd

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pH
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What do you mean?

-pH

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pH
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I bought the one tire and the one rim. They're the same type that come with the car. I actually got them a couple of months ago, but I didn't actually have them put onto the car until I took it for its tune-up last Monday. [Frown]

-pH

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Glenn Arnold
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Did the tire tread separate on the flat (road) surface, or did the sidewall split?

I've never heard of a brand new tire losing its tread the way you describe. If it did, it would indicate major problems for the tire design. As mentioned, the only "new" tires that tend to have tread separation issues are retreads.

But the sidewall can split if the tire gets low on air and the rim rubs on it. That's pretty common. If it's a new tire they'll probably cover it under warrantee anyway, even if you did get a nail in it.

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pH
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It separated like...there is a ring of rubber around the rim, and then the rest of the tire tore off in a way that looks like something chewed around it. It's more on the side (the tear) than on the flat surface. I don't know HOW, since I was on the highway and didn't hit anything. [Frown]

-pH

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Samarkand
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Pimped rim . . .? Incidentally, I don't think I can describe anything on my car as "pimped". Depressing as that is.

pH - I'm sorry! And your s key isn't working either! How awful! I think maybe you should eat some Ben and Jerry's. I find that cheers me up most of the time.

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Glenn Arnold
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All it takes is low air pressure. When I used to check out used cars for a living I found that almost every car on the road has a nail in at least one tire. Most of the time it causes a slow leak, if that, but sometimes it can leak pretty fast.

Your description sounds like what I figured. The air pressure gets low, and then the rim rides on the sidewall and "chews" it up.

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B34N
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quote:
Originally posted by Samarkand:
Pimped rim . . .? Incidentally, I don't think I can describe anything on my car as "pimped". Depressing as that is.

pH - I'm sorry! And your s key isn't working either! How awful! I think maybe you should eat some Ben and Jerry's. I find that cheers me up most of the time.

I have a pimped air freshener in my car!

pH - sounds to me like you have a strong case to get a new tire and rim for free!

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Lisa
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Can air freshener's be refilled, like ink cartridges? Do they come with a warning, "Do not recharge this air freshener! Only use new, factory sealed air fresheners."

Maybe there's money in this. Your old air freshener runs out of smell, and you bring it in so we can re-aroma-ize it. We'd have to artificially push the price of air fresheners up so that it'd be worth people's while to recharge their old ones instead of spending a buck on a new one, but what the hell, right?

No, wait, we could have like a smell bar. You go in, and you can get a custom mix. You want vanilla and cherry, maybe with some cinnamon undertones? No problem. Mocha and mint? That's fine, too. Pretty soon, people are going, "Hey, can I give you a lift?" And people are telling them, "Sure, but man, what's with the cheezy pine air freshener? Get out to Makes Scents and get something classy, like Chanel or Opium."

Or if you're a soccer mom driving a minivan, you could get an air freshener that smells like Play-Dough, or Crayola crayons. Who doesn't love those smells? Or if you're trying to cut down on caffeine but miss the smell of coffee, you could get a coffee scented air freshener.

Hell, we get Starbucks into it, and you can have a godzillion different coffee scents and blends of scents. Imagine Jamaica Blue Mountain air fresheners.

The mind purely boggles.

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Tante Shvester
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Lisa, you are a wild woman.

Pearce, I'm sorry, and horrified, to hear about your scary highway experience. How are you doing?

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pH
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We looked at the tire today, and it looks like it got a nail in it (like Glenn mentioned), and the air got low. And since the car automatically compensates to make sure you don't lose control, I didn't notice until...the tire split like that. My boyfriend insists I need to get a whole new set of tires to be safe (and I have no objections, believe me), so I think he might talk to my father about that. And he also said something about getting caps for the tires that change colors depending on if the tire pressure is okay.

Mostly, I'm just really jumpy at the tiniest bump while driving now. Bwar.

-pH

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Swampjedi
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I'm sorry, Pearce, that stinks. I remember when that happened to me...

My Tire (800k JPG)

Blew out at ~85mph. I was prepared to die.

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pH
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That's kind of the way mine looks! Except the outside is still there...just not really attached. And it's in my trunk.

-pH

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B34N
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Wow, kind of sucks that it was a nail so you can't get it replaced for free, but at least you didn't get hurt and the car is too badly damaged.
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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
My boyfriend insists I need to get a whole new set of tires to be safe
Nah, that's overdoing it, unless you can't find the same kind of tire. Tires should absolutely be matched in pairs, so if you can't find a perfect match, (brand, model and size) then the most you should need is two tires. Especially since these were brand new.

What brand of tires are they?

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pH
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Only the one tire was new. The others are as old as the car and have 40,000 miles on them. They're Continental tires...and I realized that they rotated the tires when they did the tune-up, so the dead tire is actually one of the old ones.

Although I've gone through so many tires it's ridiculous. Hazard of living in a city like this - potholes everywhere. Maybe they aren't that old. Or maybe one of them isn't that old. But my boyfriend worries about my safety a lot, so it wouldn't surprise me if he was being overcautious.

-pH

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Glenn Arnold
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Oh, ok.

Yeah, then 4 tires is a good idea. Or at least 3 if the new one is still good. But make sure you match the good tire with the same brand and tread pattern.

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Palliard
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quote:
The outside part (the tread?) detatched itself from the rubber that sticks to the rim.
That's called a "re-cap", when a tire guy takes an old worn-out tire and replaces the tread. In hot weather, the glue used to keep the cap on tends to separate. First you'll get bubbles that make it feel like your tire is out out balance... then if you go far enough the tread will peel right off.

I learned the lesson of re-caps the hard way when three of them came apart on me more-or-less simultaneously about 50 miles out of Burns, Oregon, on a hot August afternoon.

Believe me when I tell you, this is something you wish happens to your enemies rather than your friends. [Angst]

Edit: selling re-caps as new tires is a fairly common scam. If this was sold as a new tire, you should report it your DMV or equivalent agency.

[ September 04, 2006, 10:50 PM: Message edited by: Palliard ]

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Kristen
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You are unlucky like me: my tire blew on the highway, on the way to my friend's interview at Columbia. Everyone was gesturing at us and kept saying, "I'm not driving that badly!" and suddenly the car began to swerve and shake and I pulled off. We had to wait an hour for AAA and then had to drive and wait another hour to get it changed to make it to NYC. And tires are so expensive! What a pain.
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Lisa
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Back in 1996, I drove off a 300 foot cliff. Totaled my car. One week later, I'm driving in a rental car, and it's the first time I've ever been to San Francisco (I was living about an hour and a half south of the city), so I'm driving up highway 101 during rush hour. I'm in the inside lane going 75 (driving with traffic), and my right front tire blows.

It's the kind of thing that can put you off of cars altogether, particularly coming a week after the whole Thelma & Louise thing.

Luckily, there was an inside shoulder, and I pulled into that. But I went to look for the spare, and... see, I didn't know that cars had a hidden compartment. I looked in the trunk, and I saw nothing. So I just kind of blankly shut the trunk, and went over to the side of the car and put my head down on my arms on the roof.

The center divide was about a city block wide, but this couple driving the opposite way saw me, and this woman told her husband to get off at the next exit and turn around. Honest to God, they pulled up, and she talked to me while he changed my tire. I felt a little uncomfortable about the whole stereotype of being rescued like that, but I never forgot them.

The next day at work, my boss started a pool on how long the car I was driving was going to last. <grin> Understandable, I guess.

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Noemon
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So what were the circumstances of going off (and surviving going off) that cliff, Lisa?
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Lisa
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I was living in Boulder Creek at the time, in the San Lorenzo Valley just north of Santa Cruz. And I was working at a bank in Santa Cruz. I used to take Highway 9 all the way down, which was much more twisty and turny, but also much more beautiful.

The fact that it's called a highway is a tribute to the Californian sense of humor, I think. Teeny little thing, really. I think one of the reasons I used to go on it was actually more the twists than the trees. It made going fast seem even faster. I'm a leadfoot.

At the time, I was living with a woman I like to think of as the Girlfriend from Hell She's never going to read this, but let's call her Rachel. I actually moved out to California because she was. It was utterly insane. I'd intended to move back to Israel around that time, but I got totally captivated by her. I didn't realize how damaged she was.

We had this friend. Rachel and I are the same age. This friend was 20 years older than us. Her name was (well, not really) Becky. We used to call her Aunt Becky. She was like a confidente for both of us at different times. Man, I used to pour my heart out to her about Rachel.

About a week before I went off the cliff, I found out that Becky and Rachel were involved. Four days before I went off the cliff, I mentioned it to Rachel.

So I was probably a little more reckless that morning even than usual. And I was running a little late for work, too.

About 5 minutes north of Santa Cruz, there's a double S-curve (left, right, left, right). Running diagonally across the fourth bend, flush with the pavement, is an old train track. And for some reason, there was gravel on it that day.

On the right side of the street is a mountainside. On the left side is a ravine. I hit the double-S going... however fast I was going. I slammed into the turns, and on the fourth turn, the back of my car slid out, and I was about to plow into the mountainside.

I have freakishly fast reaction times in the car. Somehow, I managed to get the car turned around just before I hit. But fast or not, I can't do anything about plain old physics. I'd whipped the car around, and was now facing the opposite way.

I couldn't do a single thing as I watched the edge of the road disappear beneath the front of my car.

I remember this sense of total incredulity, and saying something like, "I cannot f***ing believe I did this," before going over the edge.

The next day, Rachel went to the site of the crash to look for my glasses, which I never recovered. She hikes. I've been back there myself, and I couldn't even climb down there. It's too steep. Steeper than 45 degrees. And after about 50 feet, there are redwoods all over. To this day, I can't figure out how I got 300 feet down without one of the trees stopping me. I must have slalomed.

I don't remember much about the ride down. When I woke up, my seat was laying flat back. I don't think it was actually built to do that. I saw smoke, and figured the car might be on fire. Actually, it was gases from the collapsing airbag, which had knocked me unconscious on the way down, but I didn't realize that at the time. I tried opening my door, but it was jammed. I tried the back door, which was actually just as easy for me to reach, given how the seat was, but it wouldn't open either.

I tried the passenger side door and failed again, and then I saw two guys running down the cliff.

The next thing I remember, I was sitting on a plastic standpipe about 20 feet away from the car, the two guys were gone, and the paramedics had just arrived.

I had no clue how far I'd fallen. I couldn't have imagined that it was as far as it was. I was probably in a little bit of shock, because I was completely unfazed, and not upset at all. When the paramedic came over and asked me if I was okay, I told him I was fine. When I saw them coming with a flat stretcher, I told him I thought I could probably just walk up the hill. He looked at me funny.

He asked me at some point if I had my E ticket. You have to love a paramedic with a sense of humor.

The most traumatic part about the whole thing was when they strapped me to the board, put a neck brace on me, strapped my forehead down, and used a block and tackle kind of thing to get me up the cliff. I have a kind of claustrophobia where being restrained makes me panic. I had to spend the entire time until we got to the hospital trying not to lose my mind with terror over not being able to move.

When I got to the hospital, and they finally let me use the phone, I made two calls. One to work. I told my boss I was going to be a little late. Heh. And one to Becky, in Albuquerque. I didn't want to call home to Rachel, because I didn't want to wake her. I figured Becky could call her later and let her know I'd need a ride home. You can see the sick frame of mind I was in there.

Anyway. It was a gold colored Saturn SL-2. The first car I'd ever owned. I'd had it for a month and a half. Rachel took some pictures while she was down looking for my glasses, and the thing I've never really been able to figure out is that the back of the car was absolutely smashed in. The front wasn't all that bad. Go figure that out.

So when my tire blew one week later in the fast lane of a superhighway going 75 miles an hour during rush hour, you can probably see how I kind of flatlined emotionally. That's just a little much.

Oh, one little postscript. A few weeks later, my boss sent me to the place where we stored our tape backups to pull an old backup for something. I got there, and this teenaged boy was looking at me funny. After a minute, he asked me, "Did you have an accident on Highway 9 a few weeks ago?"

Turns out the kid was riding his bike that day, and saw me go off the cliff. He and his dad ran down the hill. They opened the door of the car for me, and, the kid told me, I crawled out really, really fast. They were the ones who called the paramedics. I don't remember a bit of that. Nor does the mental picture I have of the guys coming down the hill look anything like this boy and his father, both of whom were there at the storage facility. The kid's name was Isaiah, and he was about 16. He'd be 26 now. They were Mormons from Utah, just visiting in the area.

When I went back to the place I went off the cliff, I noticed that there was a concrete divider along the side of the road, and a metal one as well. And there was a gap between them just wide enough for my car to fit through. I suspect that if Isaiah and his dad hadn't called someone, I probably would have died down there.

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Omega M.
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quote:
Originally posted by pH:

I called Onstar, who wanted me to get out of the car and get the VIN number off the windshield. I told them that there was no way in hell I would do that, since I was 3 feet away from 85 mile an hour traffic.

Isn't the VIN number also on your registration card?
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Primal Curve
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pH, maybe you should write the VIN down on a piece of paper and keep it in your visor or glovebox or something. That'd save you having to get out of the car.
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Noemon
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Wow, Lisa, that's quite an experience. Glad you survived it.
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BaoQingTian
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Wow, I've never had a tire blow, it sounds really freaky. I just spent $450 on new tires for my car--ouch [Frown] . It's probably a bit late this time for the advice, but something I try to do is carry a little pencil sized air pressure gauge in my glovebox. After I start filling up with gas, I'll quickly walk around and check all four tires' air pressure. It only takes about 2 minutes. It really helps for slow leaks and can save a couple miles per gallon if your tires are properly inflated.
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pH
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quote:
Originally posted by Primal Curve:
pH, maybe you should write the VIN down on a piece of paper and keep it in your visor or glovebox or something. That'd save you having to get out of the car.

Here's the thing...I was calling Onstar. They HAVE that information, just like they knew exactly where I was, since they can track my car.

They admitted that they messed up though. [Smile] Which is good.

-pH

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Primal Curve
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Oh, okay. I've never used OnStar. My vehicle-purchase choices are based on four things:

Cheap (this includes initial price and parts which means that the car cannot have too many non-servicable parts)
Fuel-efficiency
Ease of maintainence
Longevity

Rarely does this include vehicles with OnStar.

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BaoQingTian
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PC,

Sorry, this is totally off-topic, but I have a question for you. How do you find ease-of-maintenance information? I'll probably be purchasing a new compact/midsized pickup truck in the next 6 months. The Nissan Frontier is looking like my best choice for a number of reasons, with the Ford Ranger coming in second. However, I've heard rumors of the difficulty of servicing the Frontier myself. I change my own oil, spark plugs, air and fuel filters, coolant flushes, etc.

Is there a website that rates new cars and trucks on their user service-ability, special tools needed, amount of disassembly required to perform basic service, relative cost of components, etc?

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pH
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It's a useful thing to have. I have AAA too, which is really overkill, but with Onstar I don't have to do the phone dance...with AAA, I call the number on my card, and they tell me that they only serve Florida. They transfer me to the Louisiana division, which tells me that I have a Florida club number and sends me back to the Florida people...

Plus, I can push a button and get automatic 911. And it gets reception anywhere, so no worries about being hacked to pieces by the Jeepers Creepers monster on a dark country road. [Razz]

-pH

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Primal Curve
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quote:
Originally posted by BaoQingTian:
PC,

Sorry, this is totally off-topic, but I have a question for you. How do you find ease-of-maintenance information? I'll probably be purchasing a new compact/midsized pickup truck in the next 6 months. The Nissan Frontier is looking like my best choice for a number of reasons, with the Ford Ranger coming in second. However, I've heard rumors of the difficulty of servicing the Frontier myself. I change my own oil, spark plugs, air and fuel filters, coolant flushes, etc.

Is there a website that rates new cars and trucks on their user service-ability, special tools needed, amount of disassembly required to perform basic service, relative cost of components, etc?

If you're looking for a new car- get it done by the dealer. You want, want want to keep that thing in warranty. Most dealers will offer you a free maintenance program or somesuch or will at least offer you some kind of discount as you purchased the car from them. Look into it.

If you're looking to save a buck, don't buy a new truck (crap, that rhymes ah well). Get a used vehicle with a big internet community behind it and get ready to do it yourself. Both of the vehicles in my home have big followings (Chevy Cavalier & Nissan Maxima) and, once you wade through the "How big is YOUR spoiler" threads on those forums, you can get some real, sound advice from people who have been tinkering with your car/truck for years.

If, in the end, you still want to change the oil yourself, I can only recommend going to a dealer, popping the hood and looking for the location of the air filter, the oil filter (always a bitch), the drain plugs, etc. etc. before ever purchasing the vehicle. If you can't find something, ask the salesguy. If he doesn't know, ask the greasemonkies in the back- they, at least, may be more open about discussing how difficult maintenance is on their vehicles.

I wouldn't buy anything but a US-made truck for the simple fact that the parts are going to be cheaper and easier to come by (not so much true for cars these days, but definitely for trucks) and you'll have an easier time finding aftermarket parts or refurbs so you don't have to shell out all that cash for OEM.

[ September 05, 2006, 06:08 PM: Message edited by: Primal Curve ]

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ChevMalFet
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pH,

I've gathered at this point that you own a VW and having had a few over the years, there's some obligatory information I must share.

The VW dealerships very typically are a strange mix of sneaky and incompetent. The best thing any Porsche, VW, Audi, or BMW owner can do is find a good, competent, independent german car specialist. Even if their hourly rate is a bit more, they'll save you headaches down the line (exception to this of course is warranty work, obviously, where the promise of "free" changes the equation). This isn't to say that there aren't decent dealer service shops, I'm sure there are, I've just never run into them.

VW has never been able to demonstrate to me they know how to build reliable automatic transmissions. Their manuals are solidI think I put about 120k miles on a Corrado clutch; but every person I've ever known with an auto VW has had their transmission detonate, new or old.

4Motion is an all-wheel drive system, so while it probably would prevent a torque steer type pulling on the steering wheel, it won't mask the shimmy/shake you should get when you blow a tire. My guess is the puncture happened shortly before you noticed it.

BaoQingTian: I'd be willing to bet if you do a search for Frontier owner groups you'll find instructions and commentary on common maintenance bits.

Pimped rims and Saturns: Two sure-fire signs you don't love cars. "Saturn, the car for people that don't love cars." Now obviously Saturn has never said that, but one of their early adverts struck me as semantically equivalent; and with little exception their engineering has backed up the phrase.

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pH
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My mom had a VW...the only new car my father has ever bought. He bought it while she was pregnant with me, and it lasted until I was at least 10 or 12, including frequent road trips from Florida to North Carolina. Could've just been that we had a good dealership that did good work, but aside from one fluke (in which a Jetta burst into flames while parked [Eek!] ), I can't think of anyone who's said his/her VW was unreliable, and even that one fluke guy got another VW. [Dont Know] The only real problem I've had since I got the car was the sunroof sensor needing to be reset.

I agree with Primal about getting things done at the dealer if for new cars. The warranty is your friend. Plus, if you wait around, you can drool over the new cars and lust after gizmos. [Razz] But I think the service is way better if you have it done at the same dealership from which you actually purchased the car.

-pH

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Architraz Warden
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quote:
Originally posted by Palliard:
quote:
The outside part (the tread?) detatched itself from the rubber that sticks to the rim.
That's called a "re-cap", when a tire guy takes an old worn-out tire and replaces the tread. In hot weather, the glue used to keep the cap on tends to separate. First you'll get bubbles that make it feel like your tire is out out balance... then if you go far enough the tread will peel right off.

I learned the lesson of re-caps the hard way when three of them came apart on me more-or-less simultaneously about 50 miles out of Burns, Oregon, on a hot August afternoon.

Believe me when I tell you, this is something you wish happens to your enemies rather than your friends. [Angst]

Edit: selling re-caps as new tires is a fairly common scam. If this was sold as a new tire, you should report it your DMV or equivalent agency.

Oddly enough, it is comforting to know this. It helps fix the gap in my mind that has always wondered why there are so many treads along the highways here. The fact it gets to 120 (probably 140-150+ on the asphalt) would mean that others either bought them north of here, in Mexico, or from someone locally who should be arrested and shot for re-capping tires in a very warm desert.

I've only had one tire blowout on me in my life so far, and it was while I was doing 80-85 down a busy interstate. I'm guessing something pierced the tire and then it ruptured or something. All I know is that my car dinged the low tire pressure light, and about 5 seconds there was a loud "THWUMP" sound and I suddenly got the expirience of driving on only three good tires. At least it was the rear wheel on a car that is front-wheel drive.

I did change my tire on the side of the interstate, but only because it was on the passanger side. If it'd been on the driver side, I would have said screw it all and driven 1/4 mile to the next off ramp. When I was pretty much done, a semi did finally stop to provide cover for my car and see if I needed a call for help.

I'd say get two new tires... four new tires at once is also just about enough to put one off of cars.

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BlackBlade
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I was driving along and suddenly felt like my steering was off. I pulled over and sure enough I had a flat tire, I was RIGHT by a service station so I filled my tires with air, the flat one deflated within 2 minutes of driving. So I ambled to a tire shop and forked out $450 for new tires [Frown] you should rotate them every 1000 miles so they last longer apparently.
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BaoQingTian
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ChevMalFet: I'll probably have to end up doing that, it's where I've found information on motorcycles and cars that I've considered buying in the past. I was just hoping that Primal Curve had a site up his sleeve that actually compared maintenance ease and part costs among various makes and models. I think some awesome information would be failure rates across manufacturers, down to the specific part. If this were correlated by labor and parts costs, you could find the several suitable vehicles and would really put the pressure on manufacturer's to be competitive with their reliability and OEM part costs.

Primal Curve-
Agreed that a truck isn't the most economical vehicle out there (and buying a brand new vehicle of any kind is not the most economical). I live at the eastern base of the Sierras though, and there's too many outdoor activities out there that only owning a compact car has been forcing me to pass up. For most of the winter ones, 4 wheel drive and decent clearance is a necessity, and for the summer ones, enough space to haul kayaks, etc is nice. I also need something to commute to work during the 3-4 months of winter here, the rest I just ride my motorcycle.

As far as dealer maintenance goes, I was under the impression that due to the Magnuson-Moss Act that warranty could not be voided unless the dealer could prove that something caused the failure: i.e. if your engine dies the burden of proof is on the dealer to prove that the engine oil was the cause. I only run Amsoil synthetic in my vehicle and with a drain interval of 25,000 miles or 1 year I had to look into the laws to make sure it wouldn't void the warranty on my last new vehicle.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
"Saturn, the car for people that don't love cars."
[ROFL]

My husband and I own (between the two of us) 12 bicycles and 1 car.

Would anyone like to guess the make of our car?

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ChevMalFet
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Ph; I didn't really mean to say that VWs were unreliable; simply my experience with their auto shifters has been abysmal. I wasn't spouting hyperbole when I said everyone I knew had their tranny detonate; in fact one of my better friends waited for the second tranny to go before he traded his in (he can't drive stick due to disability). I can only draw two conclusions, either I'm sitting in the middle of a giant nomadic statistical anomaly in which the failures are centered around me, or they have a high failure rate.

Which really, is no big deal as long as it's under warranty. Out of warranty, I still say finding an independent specialist is sound advice. And be glad, those of us who have owned older VWs suffered all the kinks in the wonky interior switches and dials before they sorted it for the newer models. (I've had an 85 scirocco, an 86 Audi 4000, and a 92/93 Corrado, not in that order; was also at the 99 DriversFest which as far as I know is the only time it hit the East Coast, and they let us autocross some new Jettas. Horrible under-steer, but I think it was mostly due to the michelin tires that were OEM).

Warden: Most of the recaps you see on the highway are likely from Semis. Recapping truck tires is very common for cost cutting in the Transportation industry.

PC: Ironically, for all the stupid crap that went into the design of my 95 BMW, the oil filter is absurdly easy to get to without going under the car.

Bao: Having grown up in New England and doing a lot of winter driving, outside of getting out of a deep drift 4 wheel drive is a handicap over front wheel drive on snowy roads. All wheel drive, however, is a different matter and can is probably the best of the three; nothing is as valuable as a good set of snow tires though. With a set of Hakkapellittas(sp) or Blizzaks the difference is absurd, making even rear wheel drive acceptable. The clearance issue can be a valid one, however.

Pickups can be iffy in snowy and ice because there's no friggin weight over the drive wheels when they are in 2 wheel drive mode, and you shouldn't be doing highway speeds in 4.

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