Monday, November 11, 2019

Swollen Nuts

After not having a flat tire in at least the last decade, I've had two flat tires in three weeks: one nail and one piece of glass. Sheesh. Sunday, Nov. 10, was an adventure. After leaving church and walking to the parking lot, I discovered a very flat right front tire. I had to unload golf clubs and my golf cart from the trunk to get to the spare, and since it was the first time I had ever had to use the jack with this car, figure out where it was supposed to be placed.

The lug wrench was a telescoping version and I successfully loosened four of the five lug nuts, but the wrench would not go far enough onto the fifth nut to loosen it. After wrestling with that for about 20 minutes, I gave up, loaded my golf clubs and spare back into the car, went into church to see if anyone was still around who might have a better lug wrench.

Fortunately, one of my favorite people was still in the parlor and volunteered to help me. On the walk out he asked me how flat the tire was. I couldn't resist. "Only on the bottom," I replied. Out of his van, he pulled a hinged lug wrench which also did not quite fit, but we eventually used my lug wrench as a hammer to get his lug wrench to fully insert itself onto the nut and I was able to muscle off the last remaining nut. Finally, success after about 30 futile minutes.

The guy at the tire place was to inform me later that the nuts are a laminated product of aluminum and steel and grape jelly or mayonnaise or something and can delaminate and "swell" and that's a problem with Fords. He pointed to his Ford Fusion in the Firestone parking lot. "Same thing," he said. So my car has swollen nuts. That sounds serious. Later, when I told my mother the story about how the lug nuts swell, she said, "If they were swell, then what was the problem." Everybody's a comedian.

I also discovered Ford was the subject of a class action lawsuit regarding the swelling nuts. A judge dismissed the lawsuit. Ford argued the nuts were subject to their 36,000 or three year warranty and after that, too bad. Apparently, the judge never had to change a flat tire on a chilly, windy day with a lug wrench that no longer fit the lug nuts.

But back to the story. Next, I jacked up the car a bit more to get clearance off the ground and attempted to remove the tire. It was completely stuck on the hub and no amount of kicking, banging, prying, cursing, praying, gesticulating, muttering, levering, beseeching, imploring, pounding, or persuasion by any other means we had available would budge the reluctant tire.

Giving up on that idea, my friend said he had a 12v tire inflator in his van and volunteered to get that. I put all the lug nuts back on and plugged his inflator into one of the 12 v power ports in my car and got the tire inflated. Nicole and Norma said they could hear a hissing noise. I said I thought it was just my heavy breathing. Richard said I could take the inflator with me and make the 10 mile dash back to Papllion and re-inflate the tire if I needed to. Fortunately, I made it to TiresPlus in Papillion, only to discover they could not get to it until tomorrow afternoon but I might try the Firestone a few more miles south.

The Firestone folks worked me in, pulled out the offending piece of glass, and since the tires were Firestone and just three weeks old (I purchased two new all-weather front tires in preparation for winter), they fixed it for no charge and I was on my merry way, a few hours later than I had planned. I had also replaced the rear tires last week after an unrepairable puncture in one of those.

I hope I don't need a new battery.


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