…and then our tires grew whiskers!

Jan 3, 2013 | 0 comments

They say that travel broadens one and I must admit that our recent trip to Southern California did add considerably to my fund of knowledge.  Unfortunately, none of that new-found information was anything I really wanted to know…

We were almost 1200 miles from home, nearing ‘The Grapevine’ which is the long, windy I-5 approach to the Los Angeles area, when the PT Cruiser’s front end went all wobbly.  Also, if we didn’t hang on tight to the steering wheel, we would have drifted rather sharply to the right.  We soldiered on, reaching our destination late in the afternoon of December 23rd.

Early the next day we looked for a Les Schwab dealer (the answer to all such problems here at home) but found that the nearest one was in Fresno, 143 miles away.  In “SoCal” it’s all about Firestone.  We wobbled our way five miles to the closest one and spent about an hour waiting for a diagnosis.  It involved bushings, a broken motor mount, alignment and… a front right tire that looked like it had grown whiskers!

There were metal wires coming out both shoulders of the tire.  “It’s not safe,” we were told.  And we believed it, even though the tread still looked good and most of the studs were still in place.  We had left Oysterville on four studded tires – tires on wheels that live in our garage until the winter season arrives — usually the first of November.

This year, as for many past years, we had traded out our wheel-mounted ‘regular’ tires for the studded ones which have always stood us in good stead in snowy, icy conditions.  We had been very glad the Cruiser was wearing those studded tires when we had crossed the Siskiyous in blizzard conditions a few days previously.  We didn’t intend to return home without them.  But, there were no replacement tires to be had.

The young manager of the Firestone place said, “I’ve worked here for ten years and we get thirty to forty cars a day coming in.  I’ve only seen studded tires twice before.”   He made some phone calls.  No studded tires in Southern California.  Not even in Northern California until Yreka, a few miles from the Oregon border!

We came home on two brand new (non-studded) Firestone tires on the front and our two five-year-old studded tires on the back.  Yesterday, we spent the morning at Les Schwab trying to sort out the footwear for the Cruiser.  And, wouldn’t you know.  Those back two tires had also grown whiskers!   YIKES!   For the nonce, we are out of the studded tire biz and hoping for a warm, dry winter…

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