Thursday, November 4, 2010

Be Prepared

Joe: Thunp! Whoooshh! It was the unmistakable sound of air making a rapid escape from a tire. My heart sank. Vicki shot me a look that said "I can't believe you did that".

It really wasn't my fault. We were on our way out of a campground. I was maneuvering through a tight right turn. Suddenly, without warning, a small, cleverly concealed decorative wall attacked and tore open my right, rear outside tire.

Vicki: The good news was that we were prepared. Our preparation was developed from experience. Experience is the best teacher. It gives the test first and the lesson afterwards. Two years ago we had a blow-out. As usual, Murphy's Law prevailed… blown inside dual tire, 35 miles from the nearest town, Saturday of Easter weekend, and no spare tire. At that time, we had no spare tire because our motorhome did not come equipped with one. The RV dealer had patiently explained that the reasons for no spare were: 1) "Those tires never blow out." 2) "The lug nuts are so tight you would need a 10-foot long wrench to loosen them." 3) "The tire and wheel together weigh 200 pounds and the manufacturer doesn't want the liability of you getting hurt while handling one." and 4) "The roadside service truck will bring a new tire and mount it." Silly me, I thought it was because the manufacturer could save the expense of a spare tire.

Anyway, because that blowout occurred on Easter weekend and our tire size (10 R 22.5) was not readily available, it took the roadside service folks about 3 hours to locate a used tire that would, hopefully, get us home. And, they had to make a 30-mile round trip to get it (we could have gotten a new tire if we had been willing to wait until Tuesday).

The used tire got us home where we replaced all of the tires. But we did keep one of the old tires as a spare. That was part of our preparation … carry a spare tire.

Joe: Our experience-based plan for dealing with our present tire mishap is to 1.) Locate a replacement tire. 2.) Call roadside service and ask them to pick up the replacement tire. 3.) Have roadside service mount the new tire on the motorhome. The spare would be used only if we could not locate a replacement tire.

Did I mention that this blowout occurred in a campground in El Centro, California? El Centro is located in the middle of the desert, 100 miles east of San Diego, 100 miles south of Palm Springs, 60 miles west of Yuma, Arizona and 7 miles north of the Mexican border. These things never seem to happen in a convenient location. A few telephone calls revealed that El Centro did not have a replacement tire in stock. We would have to use the spare and obtain a new tire somewhere down the road.

While we were waiting for roadside service to arrive we located a replacement tire at a tire shop near Palm Springs. Going to Palm Springs would have added 200 miles to our trip. We called our friends, Joe and Joanne, in Yuma, Arizona. Yuma was closer and on our way. They made some phone calls. None of the tire dealers in Yuma had our tire in stock but they found a tire dealer in Chandler, Arizona who did. Chandler is just south of Phoenix. It would put 275 miles on our 7-year old spare tire but added only 70 miles to our journey.

The next morning, in Chandler, I successfully wiggled our 36-foot motorhome through a narrow alley and into a tire service area that was obviously not intended for motorhomes. This feat redeemed me, in Vicki's eyes, as a reasonably competent RV driver. She was beginning to have doubts after the wall versus tire incident. Two hours later we had two new tires on the front wheels, four matched 2-year old tires on the rear, a 2-year old spare tire in a side compartment, and a much lighter wallet. The incident had used the equivalent of a full day's travel time.

Vicki: The moral of this story is to be prepared. Be prepared by carrying a cellular telephone; it is invaluable in an emergency. Be prepared by having a spare tire; don't count on a replacement tire being available at a moment's notice. Be prepared by subscribing to an RV roadside assistance plan. One that will respond anywhere in the United States and Canada and, if unable to solve the problem on the side of the road , one that will tow your RV (no matter the distance) to a facility that can effect the repair. Be prepared by having the telephone numbers of the manufacturer of your vehicles, their chassis, engines, transmissions, and tires. Most manufacturers can direct you to the facilities that can service their products.

Joe: And, don't forget your credit card.

Joe and Vicki Kieva are the authors of a number of how-to books and e-books about RVs, RVers and RVing.

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