Veterans Day Weekend Blowout (part 1)

This weekend is a time to reflect on those who served and are serving our country, as well as their families. I am thankful for all that they've done, the sacrifices they have made.

I was also very thankful that most people were out of town early or stayed in for the long weekend, resulting in fewer cars being on the road. Because of that, I avoided disaster.

I was driving in the number 2 lane of the freeway, just before the interchange of three major freeways. All of a sudden, I knew something bad happened to my car because it was shaking very badly. I heard a loud noise of something go under my car, followed by an incessant, repetitive flapping noise as my car chugged along--the rear driver side tire had blown out. This is not a good thing to have happen when you're travelling at high speeds. Because that stretch of the freeway was 5-6 lanes wide, there was no way I could just stop and pull over. So, I had no choice but to drive about half a mile onto the connector road leading to US 101, moving toward the right lane as I went along. That part was much easier since the freeway was now only 3 lanes wide. Luckily, I wound up at a narrower end of a very wide shoulder area--unusual for LA freeways. I called my parents, who would later come with a jack and other tools to put the spare tire in.

While I waited, a tow truck suddenly stopped behind me. The driver got out and asked, "You called for a tow truck?" I told him no, but someone was coming for me, so he left. The way he phrased the question got me thinking, "what if I really did call a tow truck?" How would I know that's the guy I actually called for? If I was in a panic and would let the truck driver take complete control, I would have been taken in for a scam and possibly be charged an exorbitant amount. If you're ever in this situation, please make sure the truck driver is whoever it is you called, be it Triple A or someone else.

After all this, I should finally get some AAA protection. When I was in my belt-tightening phase, it was not an added expense I could afford. Now that I can breathe a little easier, it's worth the peace of mind. I should probably get a reflective sign or cone to get people to see my car and hopefully slow down. Believe me, sitting in the immobilized car while others whiz by dangerously close is quite unnerving, especially when one of the passers by is a huge semi with wheels skating on the line just a few feet away from your car.

The next day my dad managed to get me a set of rear tires that were on sale (yup, bargain shopping runs in the family). The blown tire was of course thrown out, but he saved the good right rear one as the new spare. He said that the next time something like this happens again, I can just pop in the good tire and it's all good to go--no need to put on the little spare one and replace it later. That's pretty good thinking.

Next time, I'll talk about a blowout of a very different nature: blowout sales. Finding those perfect pants is really satisfying.


ThatBeeGirl said...

AAA really is a great value for $80/year. I know it's saved me several times.
Glad to hear everything was handled well!

michelle said...

Wow, I'm so glad that things ended well. I've had a comparable incident on a highway and it's no fun at all.

Anonymous said...

AAA is definitely worth it. One thing I felt the need to comment on - I've been told it is safer to get out of your vehicle and move farther down the road (toward traffic) and wait on the side. That way, if someone does clip your car, you will not be in it and the debris will fly away from you.

continuum said...

You should actually get three reflective triangles-- the California Vehicle Code defines this, but in practice, just having one is a hell of alot better than nothing.

The main thing is to get out of the path of traffic, and onto a shoulder with enough space that when the tow truck driver does arrive, he can work safely. (or you can work safely, if you're swapping to the spare yourself).

Sales Rack Raider said...

Anon--I totally agree. I know I should have gotten out of the car, but it was freezing that night. Cars did noticeably slow down once they see people huddling outside of their cars.

Continuum--great advice (on cars or otherwise), as always.