Boy Mechanic Changes a Flat

Boy Mechanic got himself a classic case of flat tire on Crow Canyon Road, a remote back-woods over-the-hill shortcut to CostCo in Danville.

I just wanted to pick up some coffee beans and honey. I ended up being CostCo’s guest for a couple of hours, did a lot more shopping than I intended, and bought four new Michelins and had them installed and balanced.

It all started with a slow leak in the left front tire. But this just meant adding more air every other tank of gas or so. Boy Mechanic knows that even a good tire man won’t find a slow leak in the dip tank when it’s that slow. And who has time to have a tire checked out for a slow leak?

The tire cooperated with my diagnostic skepticism by increasing the speed of the leak. After several months, every tank of gas seemed enough, and then even that no longer seemed to be enough. I re-inflated it yesterday to visit some friends in Antioch. I had to re-inflate it this morning to go to CostCo. By that time even Boy Mechanic knew it was time to have the tire checked, and CostCo sells tires.

The tire cooperated even more cheerfully by going completely flat out in the middle of nowhere. I pulled off into a safe flat clearing by the roadside. Boy Mechanic, who hasn’t had to change a tire in an honest 25 years, hoped against hope that Toyota put all the required stuff?in the trunk. The salesman said it would all be there, back when we bought the car new in 1999. It was all there — even the special star-shaped lug nut security tool.

After 25 years, you begin to wonder if you remember how. I found the jack point on the frame. I remembered to loosen the lug nuts before the tire was jacked completely off the pavement. The little tire iron is no match for the torque of mechanics’ air wrenches. A little tennis-shoe power broke the lug nuts free, and in only half an hour I had the factory original Bridgestone spare on the left front. Lowering the jack again, I discovered the spare only had 20 lbs of pressure left since the factory put it in the trunk in 1999. That little air pump I bought in the 1990’s, the kind that gets 12 volts from the car’s cigarette lighter, finally came in handy after all these years. 35 psi (but it takes forever), and I was on the way to CostCo.

At first I just paid to replace the two front tires – you replace them in sets – but I got to wondering: the rears also had about 30,000 on them. They might be good for another year, but when would Boy Mechanic ever find time to replace them? The Divine Creator had just given me that time, whether I liked it or not, so I took advantage of that to pay for two more tires, making a full set of four.

I had two hours to kill. I found the honey and the coffee beans. The store was swamped with customers, but who’s in a hurry when the mechanics have given you two hours of shopping time? I also bought a new jacket for Fall, a Philips SonicCare electric toothbrush, a generic Moto-Tool power tool set with 106 bits, new T-shirts, a year’s supply of Saltines, and some of the new, efficient compact fluorescent bulbs that replace regular light bulbs.

When else would Boy Mechanic find the free time to buy all these much-needed supplies?

I also bought a hot dog and a coke for $1.60. I swear it was the best hot dog I ever ate. The car was ready when promised, but I had plenty of time to reflect: not only do I get to ride around on the safety of new radials, I remembered how to change that flat myself!

Good thing, too. Triple-A road service wouldn’t have been a big help here; Boy Mechanic had forgotten and left the cell phone at home.

Oh, and would I recommend CostCo for tire sales and service? Absolutely – they are a courteous and professional crew.

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