Tires and other $1000 events both real and prevented

by the other theo

There was this blinking light on the dashboard of one of our cars.   It was the tire pressure light.  It was blinking almost, it seemed, since we bought the car in April of 2012.   Actually, given the tape glue residue on the dash over the spot where the light is blinking, we suspect it was blinking before that.

We had our mechanic check why the light was blinking sometime in 2013, I think.   It turns out that the batteries in one or more of the tire pressure sensors were dead.   When I inquired about the replacement cost, it was clear that it would be best to wait on that until we were going to have the tires taken off anyway.   The best time to do that would be when the tires would be replaced, which from the tread wear looked to be in the not too dramatically distant future.

Ok, it took nearly two years.

Our mechanic alerted us to extensive tread wear when we dealt the water accumulating in the driver foot well this summer.

Oh wait, did I not mention that?   Yes, California is in the midst of the worst drought on record since records started being kept, but water was accumulating under the carpet in the driver’s foot well of this car.   We first saw indications of this problem last January when it was raining a lot.   We had the driver’s door seal replaced and that seemed to clear up the problem (and perhaps it did.)   It reappeared in mid-July, without a drop of rain for weeks.

That required two visits to the mechanic who eventually determined that it was due to a known air conditioner drain tube issue with this make of car.    The drain tube installed at the factory was too short.  So when condensation from the coil in the center console of the dash collected to drain out the bottom of the car, it didn’t quite make it all the way to the ground.   Instead, it collected in a cavity in the structure of the unibody and leaked out into the passenger cabin.

Well, that was one theory anyway.   The other one was that the tube or drain pan was blocked, costing between $500-1000 to fix.

Fortunately the $100 labor to install the $30 drain tube replacement did the trick.

Getting back to the tires, July wasn’t the time to pay for new tires, given the vagaries of how the Missus is paid.  This week, it turns out, was the time to pay for new tires.

So, I got up bright and early yesterday morning and drove over to the local tire emporium just before 8am, when they were scheduled to open.    I was expecting to get over there and wait outside the door until someone unlocked it or something.   Instead, I arrived and they were going full blast with cars already up on the rack and orders being taken in the showroom.  Maybe their clocks run fast?

Anyway, I was quickly helped by a salesman who took me out to the car to get vital information.  It was at that point when a couple things were pointed out to me… like the fact that all four wheels had wheel locks on them.   Did I have a key?   Um…. good question!   We certainly didn’t get one when we bought the car.

In case it was stuck in the car someplace, I checked the spare tire well where the key wasn’t… and the jack and jack tools also weren’t.   (I found the jack today, in a location where the manufacturer clearly intended to be, but where a diagram the manufacturer-provided owner’s manual said it shouldn’t be… go figure!)

Long story short, the tire emporium cracked all four locks off the car for $10 a wheel, and we got the same tires with road wear warranty and brand new pressure sensors installed for just a bit over $1000.

I was expecting an expensive bill, but that was $100-200 higher than I anticipated.   Oh well.  At least, we didn’t find out about the jack or the jack tools or the wheel locks when on the side of the road with bad weather and poor cell reception or something.   That was a disaster averted.

I spent a good portion of the following afternoon visiting multiple auto parts stores to finally track down replacement lug nuts that matched the existing.  Factory jack tools are on their way for about $30.