Monday, December 10, 2012

Flat Tire Statistics

So, I got a flat tire yesterday, which wasn't particularly fun, given that it was at night, on the side of a major interstate, and that I had Marla with me in the back seat. Not the most ideal situation to incur a flat, which helps explain why it took me almost 20 minutes to remember that the jack is supposed to go perpendicular to the side of the car, not parallel. (Of course it seems obvious now...)

It's not a very interesting story, actually, and as of today, the tire has been patched and everything is back to normal. So instead, let's talk statistics! (Because that's way more interesting.)

How often do I get a flat tire? I don't remember how many flats I got with my old car, but with the Honda I've kept a detailed maintenance log, including all tire-related issues. And, it shows that this is my second flat in the life of the car, which spans over five years and 90,000 miles. (Not included was the leaky tire that came with the Budget rental car that we drove to California in 2009, because that wasn't the Honda, and the damage had already been done to that tire.) I don't think that's a bad ratio, but I had a hard time finding a good miles-per-flat statistic online.

Both times with the Honda (and unlike with the Budget rental car), the tire was a simple puncture that could be repaired for under $20. At least, this assumes that the tire holds up over time. So far, I've only driven it 8 miles, from the repair shop, to work, to home. It was $13.80 last time, which was in July 2008; this time, it was $19.35, even though it was at the same shop. Did they just increase their rates, or was it a more sophisticated repair job this time? Could be both, but last time, it was a nail stuck in the tire; this time, the damage looked a little more substantial. In 2008, I only noticed the tire was flat the next morning, so it was a slow leak. This time: loud noise followed by tire pressure warning light followed by me pulling over all happened within a few seconds.

(By the way, the tire pressure warning light is a very good thing. Without it, how long would I have kept driving on I-40 at 65 mph?)

This being my Honda's second flat tire, it's also my second stint on the spare tire, a.k.a. "the donut". The donut now has 31 miles on it (18 last time, 13 yesterday).

But...there's more! I still have the full size spare, never used, that I bought for the Alaska trip in 2010. I keep it at home rather than in my car because it doesn't fit comfortably in my trunk, but I did take the donut off in favor of the full size spare after limping home last night. After 11 miles on the full size spare, now it's back to the shed, until next time. It'll be there for me if I ever get a flat that can't be patched.

Bike tires have a tendency to lose air over time whether you ride them or not, but car tires are a wee bit more sophisticated. My full size spare still had a healthy 30 psi in it after 2½ years of non-use.

So, hopefully I won't be writing another blog post about flat tires for a while.

1 comment:

Rita McCall said...

I think it'll be hard to find a reliable flat tire statistic because drivers, driving styles and roads are variable. That being said, I agree that tire pressure warning light is a good thing. I can usually feel something amiss with the steering when a tire is flat, but by that time, my tire's long overdue to see a mechanic or possibly be replaced. Thanks for sharing!