A couple posts in this thread http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=828426 on lessons learned the hard way prompted me to think about flat tires on cars. Years ago they were pretty common. Most people knew how to change them and had done so recently. Now not so much on both counts. Tires have gotten very, very reliable.
The poll question is whether you’ve had an *unplanned need *to change a car (or pickup truck) tire. Doesn’t matter whether you did the work or somebody else did it for you. IOW, you’re driving along in your ordinary vehicle and have a tire failure. Or you get to your car and discover a flat tire. Damn! Now you’re stuck with an unplanned tire change. That’s what the poll’s about.
The poll is *not *about whether you have or can change a car tire yourself without help. Though feel free to expound on that.
It’s also not about tires on cargo trucks, construction equipment, farm equipment, motorcycles, bicycles, boat trailers, wheelchairs, powerscooters, handcycles, baby buggies, wheelbarrows, etc. Feel free to expound on those too, but please don’t muddy the poll. I’m hoping we’ll learn a bit about modern car tire reliability.
Despite driving older cars and running my tires till the tread is fully used I was amazed to realize that it has now been (just) over 8 years for me.
I remember it well; a hot sticky August day in St. Louis. Came out from an indoor convention / swap meet sorta event to find one flat tire. Damn. Installed the spare successfully and found a drywall screw embedded in the flat tire’s tread. I’d driven through a new housing development still being built the day prior. Come Monday the tire place was able to pull the screw & plug the hole & I got another 10-15K miles out of the set of tires. So overall damage was just some irritation, sweat, and delay plus $10 for a plug job. Not too bad.
But for that road hazard I can’t remember my previous tire change although I know I did scads of them back in the college, etc. days of the 1970s & 80s.
Tires seem to survive road hazards and random leaks a lot better than they used to.
The last time I actually had to change a time was more than 8 years ago, but I have had flats more recently. I have always been able to plug the tire and reinflate it while it was still on the car, thanks to those compressors that plug into the cigarette lighter. About 12 years ago, I had a sidewall puncture, so I had to put on the spare, and take the tire in, and get it replaced under warranty, and have the guys at the shop put it back on the car.
Within the last 8 years. Maybe closer to 5 years ago. It was my old F150 that my son was driving and he’s hard on cars. I think tires are better now, but that mostly reduces blow-outs due to defects, abrasions, and wear because any tire can be punctured. Seems like tires worn well past the point where they should be replaced don’t blow out as easily as they used to, but maybe it just seems that way to me because it’s been a long time since I couldn’t afford new tires when I needed them.
I’ve had a tire destroyed by rolling high debris about 4-5 years ago. Took a bit to figure out the jack point and even to remember where the donut and jack were stored in my Prius. Other than that it was probably another 20 years before that in a Hyundi Excel and a nail caused the flat.
About 10 years ago I had to change one of my wife’s minivan tires. A royal pain in the ass as the tire lowering system on the Mazda MPV barely worked at all. We should have just called AAA and waited.
Tires really do hold up great these day, it has a lot to do with improved suspensions also.
My first two cars, tire changes were common and I had it down to almost pit crew speed. This would be 1983-1986 though. The first car was a '70 beater Barracuda with a fine collection of nearly bald tires and barely there shocks. The second was a '77 Camaro with terrible shocks, but once I got some heavy duty shocks installed, I never blew another tire on it.
My favorite (sarcasm) flat was when I was in graduate school and had no money. I was changing the tire and wondering how in the world I was going to find money for a new tire if it wasn’t fixable. Meanwhile the guys at the construction site across the street were just knocking off for the day. The foreman (I assume) was leaving first and he hollered over at the guys “Hey, give that girl a hand.” Immediately all of the guys burst into applause. Nice. And no, no one came over to help.
I’ve plugged maybe 3 or 4 tires in the last 12 years or so, but I never actually had to take them off and put on the spare. They were all nail or screw into the tread and I just plugged using the couple of $ sticky plug kit. Never had one of those fail either.
Five years ago I had two flats in my Mustang; one when I chunked a piece of concrete in a construction zone which tore a hole in the tire sidewall, and the other when I had a U-shaped nail poke its way in, right on the shoulder of the sidewall.
The biggest improvement in tire technology was the belted radial. Blowouts used to be common back when cars used bias-ply tires; the fabric plies which made up the carcass criss-crossed each other around the sidewall. The problem is that under load as the tire flexes these plies will try to “scissor” across each other, and that internal stress leads to heat build up, separation, and blowing out.
Radials orient the cord plies, er, radially. This means there’s no scissoring between the plies. on the other hand, it means even a properly inflated radial tire has a bit of a “bulge” down where the tire sits on the road surface. in the early days of radials it was common for people accustomed to bias-ply tires to over-inflate radial tires because the bulge made them look like they were low on air.
if you have a blowout on any modern radial tire, it’s most likely due to prolonged operation while underinflated. second most likely would be a latent manufacturing defect.
My last flat tire was almost exactly 2 years ago (7/24/15). I picked up a nail on my way to Santa Cruz on Soquel San Jose Rd. It’s a narrow winding road and after the tire pressure alarm went off it took a couple of miles before there was a place to pull over to change the tire. I was a little concerned about having to drive back over the hill with the mini-spare. Luckily there was a tire shop in Soquel and I got there right before they closed.
For those who might need a visual aid to understand crossply vs radial tires: https://qph.ec.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-2e3211dc243a3ab22de8cb54e56fef39
If the disadvantage of radial ply is mainly unaesthetic bulging, it’s difficult to believe it took this long for tire manufacturers to make radial tires ubiquitous.
Are there other factors? Did the dramatic increase in reliability come about gradually or was there an uptick in the 90s or 2000s?
Picked up a nail about 6 weeks ago while my winter tires were still in the car. BMW has dropped the spare tire in favour of run-flats, so I limped my way to my tire place. They swapped the tires and rims for my all seasons, patched the tire with the nail, and put them in storage for the fall.
Unfortunately, run flats once they have been patched once can’t be repaired again. I’ve got one more winter to get out of this set so I’m hoping they last!
Last six months. Check that, last year. For whatever reason, contractors in Houston love leaving screws and other construction debris around where tires can pick it up. Usually only causes slow leaks (and frequent use of Costco’s Road Hazard Warranty), but this one tore my sidewall. Grrr…
Easy to get the mickey mouse spare out, and change, but still a pain in the ass.
Not as explosive as when one of my Goodyear F1s let go one night while cruising down the highway—that was exciting—but still annoying.
As I pulled out of the Park and Ride lot one October evening in 2014, I heard the thunk thunk noise of a flat tire. Fortunately a Firestone store was across the road from the Park and Ride, so I quickly got assistance when a diligent salesman spotted me hauling the jack out of the trunk and sent a tech over to help me.
The last time I actually changed one myself was probably 15 years prior.
I get one at least once a month, sometimes one a week, but I off-road (literally, not even a trail) almost every day. I got some stupid Dick Cepek tires and the sidewalls are like butter. You can get a puncture from greasewood for Christ’s sake! :mad: I bust them myself and can fix them right quick. I also carry 3 spares.
My wife has a disturbing habit of picking up nails and screws also.
Pretty uncommon to ever finish a motorcycle ride without a flat. Too lazy to fix them in the field. I just ride home!
I voted “within the past 8 years,” but it wasn’t my tire. I’ve never had a flat tire on any vehicle I’ve driven, knock on wood.
Several years ago (5, maybe) I got out of class for the day and was walking to the parking lot with a buddy of mine. He got to his pickup and noticed it had a flat. We pulled it off, threw it in the trunk of my car, ran down to the tire place to get it patched, then took it back to campus to reinstall it on his rig. I don’t think he carried a spare cuz we had to use my lug wrench and bottle jack, although I’m sure he did after that.
Maybe 7 years ago I was driving to work on a rural highway and came up behind a parked pickup pulling a horse trailer. There was a middle-aged woman standing next to the trailer with her hands on her hips and scowl on her face. Naturally I pulled over and asked if everything was ok. Turns out one of the tires on the dual axle trailer had blown. She didn’t know anything about changing them so I did it for her. Only time I’ve changed a tire on a loaded trailer which was significantly more of a PITA than a car tire.
I’ve had several tires go low on me so I’ve either aired them up and driven in to a shop to find the leak or pulled it off and taken it in. I don’t know if that counts as a “flat” since none of them technically went flat and none happened while I was driving or parked anywhere other than at home.
My wife had a blowout 10 years ago or so when driving her sister’s minivan. The van didn’t have a spare so she called her sister’s husband to come fetch her and take care of the car. Other than that I think she’s in the same boat as me: never had a flat of her own but has helped others change theirs.
Growing up on a farm I’ve changed numerous tractor, trailer, and lawnmower tires. The real fun is pulling off a couple of 6ft diameter tractor tires and filling them up with 300lbs of antifreeze and muscling them back on.