Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry freakin' Christmas.

Drove down to Chattanooga yesterday to take care of some business in traffic court (my first moving violation in 12 years) and spend some time hanging out with staghounds, who is an amazingly enjoyable conversationalist.

Of course, no trip to Chattanooga can go completely unmarred for me. This time it was a godawful hammering from the right rear of the Bimmer as I rolled into town. I pulled off at the next exit, sure I had an impending flat, but all four tires were sound. Hmm. Maybe it spit off a wheelweight and the wheel's just out of balance? It just got worse from there, and once I hit 55 or 60 on the interstate, the wheel was vibrating harshly enough that I was getting flickers from the traction control light, indicating that I had actual wheel hop. Not good.

I got to my friend's place, and a brief inspection at the foreign car joint down the road from his house revealed that the right rear Conti had developed a huge blister on the inner sidewall. The mechanic suggested that the local NTB near Northgate Mall (Store #662, 5327 Hwy. 153) would be the nearest tire joint likely to have a 245/40-17 in stock. So we limped the Zed Three over there, I walked up to the counter, inquired as to the availability of said size of tire and immediately got the "Just A Girl" treatment.

"I have Michelin Pilot Sports and these Falken run-flats..."

"Um, that's all you have in stock? I see more than that on your screen... You've got Michelin Pilot Sport A/S's, I liked tho..."

"Ma'am, I can't put those on your car on acount of the speed rating."

"You what? Listen, I..."

I was ready to work myself into a fairly spectacular rage. This thimble-headed gherkin was going to try and feed me some song and dance about how he had some imaginary law or store policy that would force him to sell the little lady the more expensive tire, and if he thought I was going to stand for it...

...then he was right. I was just too damn tired and stressed to argue. I was a hundred miles from home. Cold. Wet. I hadn't eaten yet. I had traffic court in four hours. I just shut the hell up and spent every freakin' penny of Christmas money I had on a couple of tires I didn't want, just because I didn't have the energy to convince this Mouth breathing yahoo that I was pretty smart for a girl.

I hope his manager, Mr. Kenneth E. Johnson II, reads this and fires his ass, though.

Merry Christmas, y'all.

Bah, humbug.


Kevin said...

Check your Paypal account.

Merry Christmas! Pick up a Pratchett novel and a twelve-pack of ale.

Anonymous said...

Drink more coffee... The guy will definitely not be fired as he did his job well, slimily but well...

Anonymous said...

Oh, geeesh! It never rains but it pours. And it was rainin' jerks.

NotClauswitz said...

I hate it when tires intervene to ruin a holiday.

Kevin said...

I'm sorry to hear that. I'm glad you caught the problem before something worse happened. It sucks to be broke, but it beats the hell out wrecking your car.

theirritablearchitect said...

Actually, it's all part of their liability insurance, which, of course, was brought about by some other thimble-headed gherkin actually attempting to exceed the tires' rating that he complained so hard to get installed on his Corvette, only to get his slimy lawyer involved or some such non-sense after a presumably spectacular separation event at speed.

Relax Tam, you're in good company. Same thing happened to me when I we needed to change tires on my wife's car a couple of years ago; had to go with the Z-rated jobs even though the car has never seen more than about 100.

Cheers for the dolts among us who don't have the common sense to think.

Carteach said...


He may have been a jerk, but most tire stores won't put tires on less than the speed rating the car calls for.

Sure, you may never drive over 100, but the previous writer was correct. Some idiot will, and has, put low rated tires on a real car, then driven over their limit.
The resulting lawsuit changed sales rules in the industry.

I tell my own students not to put lower rated tires on for a customer, when the car calls for a Z or X rating.

Tam said...

The Z3 2.8 is governed to a buck thirty and change.

The only way it would see "in excess of 149MPH" is if I pushed it off a high cliff.

Tam said...

Oh, and to Kevin and the other folks in the Christmas spirit:

Thank you. I wasn't trying to jostle the tip jar with my elbow, but y'all have helped brighten my day.

NotClauswitz said...

You can get a chip for that from Dinan (they're "around the corner" from me) to override the govenor. :-)
We put one in my wife's POS 530i to get some more usable torque, I think it made it a bit faster but it's never been over 110...really.
Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...


BTDT, and didn't have a tip jar.

(Just payin' back some Karma extended to my kids over the years in Knox-Vegas.)

Joyous Solstice, Y'all!

CGHill said...

This makes me wonder. I just put some V-rated tires on my ride. Said ride tops out at 130, suitable for the H-rated tires it used to have.

Does this mean that 40,000 miles (more or less) from now someone's going to give me a whole ration of crap if I go back to H?

Anonymous said...

I suppose you could purchase a Yugo and put A rated tires on it.
I saw them on sale for $1.59 each at the NTW.

Seriosly, I know the feeling but prefer not to have to worry about a tire coming apart at speed. Cheap insurance.

Billy Hollis said...

If it makes you feel any better, I have Pilot Sports on my 330ci, and I like them a lot. They seem to do pretty well in the rain, despite not being "all season".

Anonymous said...

CGHill said...
Does this mean that 40,000 miles (more or less) from now someone's going to give me a whole ration of crap if I go back to H?

Unless it's an emergency like Tam had, you deserved to get a whole ration of crap for not getting H rated tires (or whatever rating you decide) online and having a local garage install them, thus saving yourself some money and possible strangulation of a rim jockey.

CGHill said...
They seem to do pretty well in the rain, despite not being "all season".

"All season" tires are for light mud and snow traction (hence the M+S on them). "Summer" tires do just fine in the rain. In fact, they're designed with it in mind, given it rains during the summer in most areas.

Anonymous said...

Whoops, no past tense meant on "deserve".

staghounds said...

It takes one to know one, I blush.

A high compliment indeed, from the woman who says "I like my coffee like Louis Farrakhan, black and bitter."

As to tireboy, I knew the wrath was coming. There IS such a thing as bad publicity.

CGHill said...

Actually, the last batch was ordered online, from the Tire Rack, and installed at a shop where they've seen me before. Not a problem.

But I've had to buy tires during road trips before, and I'm not quite sure your average Inflater Dude is going to know that this particular model (which is no longer being made, natch) calls for an H rating even though I have the spiffier Vs.

Anonymous said...

Although not as helpful at the tire store, there's a phrase my father used to use that sometimes helps out with the sales robots at certain places. It goes like this:

"Look, pal, I'm not here to make you salesman of the month."

It usually shuts them right down. Try it out yourself for fun sometime and watch the fun begin.

I am sorry you spent all the holiday cash on those tyres though.

NotClauswitz said...

I buy 3-ply (heavier than necessary ?) tires for my F-150 because I go over a lot of curbs in Palo Alto and wherever the fuck else I feel like going. It make parallel parking easier.
Hit some a camshft with gear-end affixedcrap on the Freeway coming back from an Enduro ride with the two-plys that blew a humongous hole in the right rear sidewall, and fixing that shit on the side of the road with the bike loaded-up in back and big trucks running by was no fun. The spare was about dead and two cans of air-up shit did f* all to inflate it beyond 15 lbs.
I had to get the rim bent back because of the damage, and listening to two chuckleheads go at it with sledges was painful, but it holds air now.

Paul said...

Christmas steak is on me this year. I figure I get at least that much entertainment from this blog.

Anonymous said...

Tam, the 'H' rating is a max of 130mph, which means your buck 30 and change bumps you to the next higher rating, 'V', which has a max of 149mph.
BTW, the liability for mounting a lower than original equipment tire falls on the the person and/or business that mounts it on the vehicle. So, simplest way to handle this is take the wheels in, minus the car.

I would expect that it would cost the salesman his job if he gave you a de-rated tire. It's possible that the computer system would not allow him to do it. For liability reasons, it could be set up that way.

Now, to add insult to injury, one of the ways to get a higher speed rating for tires is to make the carcass thinner. The tread can also be thinner. Less heat buildup from flexing, which is what kills a tire. This means your tires are more delicate, more subject to damage from impacts.

Don said...

I usually get to buy my tires from Mike in my small home town, so I don't get that treatment. That sucks.

On the other hand, if his giant heartless corporation has A Policy, it's more than his job is worth to break it for you. You've worked at the bottom of soulless corporations, so you've probably explained to people that the policy is stupid, you don't agree with it, but you won't be breaking it today. I know I have.

Anonymous said...

See, you need to get a couple of regular readers of your blog on speed dial so that in situations like this, you can just hit your phone, and listen to the fireworks.

Don M said...

I blew out a tire, and ended up getting towed. The ownly good thing about the experience was that the wheel wasn't cracked.

Good news: Runflats work, so you will never need one of those magnificent Smiths to fight off goblins after running over a spike strip (that they lay out into the road as part of their ambush).

Anonymous said...

Up here at the thimble-headed gherkin farm, we carry around a whole extra tire already mounted on an extra wheel, just to avoid this. Yankees call this a "spare."

My car is not in the computer, which makes it 'company policy' for Tire Rack to hang up on me--even though, until last year, they were literally across the street from where the car was built.

When you want 149 MPH tires for a car made in 1963, you get the same dumb look, in reverse. Plus there's that 75 profile to deal with: conversion charts are non-Euclidian. The upside is Local Officer checking out your new Firestone Police Pursuits in the shop: "Like your tires, man. Just like mine." Sporting blood. Rare.

Oh, and CounterMan pronounces Halibrand "Halliburton."

I'm so sorry a man caused this. Have you re-torqued the metric unobtainium lugnuts yet? 'Cause a man may have thowed-em on thur. Come to think, a man may have touched that car in the factory, so you're pre-supplied with 'reasoning' for when they won't, like, turn the brake rotors past spec when you wanted money for an Easter hat. The pigs.

I think that salesman was the best friend you've bumped into all month, miraculous on-line singularity or no. And any friend who pats your head and says "that's all right, dear" is no friend at all. I've seen high-speed tread separation, up close and personal, and I'd skip Christmas to avoid it. It's not as if you didn't walk into that suburban franchise with a speeding ticket sticking out of your pocket. And pronounced it "Zed" as you tried to high-hat a mini-wage not-a-clerk who has to take policy from a CRT as a condition of employment. The car says Z right on it. If you want S tires, you need a Poor-shuh. And if you want scrapper tires on yuppie-bait, you go around to the back dock, not the front desk, and tell the porter you're trading it in on a Saturn and just have to make it to the dealership. Because nothing says "hillbilly divorcee" like a world-class driver's car with substandard tires.

As a matter of fact, my other car is an El Camino. There's not a re-tread on it.

Tam said...

Y'know, it's not like I wanted a retread.

It's not like I even wanted these fricken' Falkens, which are a little downmarket from what I normally buy. I would have preferred the one name brand tire, V or H rated, and I would have bought its sibling after Xmas. I promise I wouldn't have done any autocrossing 'til then.

Instead, I got talked down to by a moron who couldn't spell "tread separation", was given the "Crown Ultra Royal Super Sucker" tire service complete with "free lifetime tire rotation" on two directional tires that are on different sized rims from the front and "lifetime wheel balancing" on a pair of fairly soft-compound Falkens that'll have the life expectancy of cancerous fruit flies, traction control or no.

Anonymous said...

I had a similar problem recently. Decided it would be prudent to get matching diameter tires on the rear, since it has a limited slip differential. Then I remembered it has two, well, three, kind of. AWD-turbo. Alright, that will be 4 tires, sheesh. Well, they were getting a bit thin. I'll admit, I put 'H' on, instead of the correct V. In my defense, the car won't get near triple digits, since it has some sort of glitch in the fuel management system. Also, they were used, and I did all the work myself, so it's on me. ;-}

Already regretting it, as these tires have very little directional stability. Feels as twitchy as a go-kart, or a BeeMWobbleU with a rib front tire on rain-grooved concrete.:-)

Anonymous said...

Sears carries your Continental. There are three Sears stores in Chat--tanooga. You have a cell phone; you do the math.

Bee-ee-ee-murr buys one a lofty view down the nasal ridge, 363 days a year. The other two, like the cop who forgot his false teeth, sucks donut. One reason I no longer pay Alfa dues. You had a bad day, couldn't find the Conti shop, and that's sad. Blaming the other 48% of the race for the shocks all carcasses are heir to? Hunnerd-proof gurrl-power. Schade has two meanings.

Tam said...

"Blaming the other 48% of the race for the shocks all carcasses are heir to?"

Who are you and why are you calling yourself "comatus"?

The real comatus, a longtime reader of this blog, is

a)Literate enough to see that my post in no way blamed any of this on menfolk in general, and

b)Aware that I bought my car because it is pleasant to drive and mechanically reliable, and that I couldn't give two shits about its status-symbolosity.

As I said, I was tired, wet, cold, pissed off, and had traffic court in an hour. Plus, I didn't feel like driving any further than necessary on a rolling bomb. Maybe if the weather was nicer, I had all day to do it, and my Cricket cell phone (which I may have mentioned elsewhere on this blog) worked in any city other than Knoxville, I'd have gone on tire safari. As it was, I was all set up to be victimized.

Thing is, if Tooly McToolerson had politely explained to me, in a voice other than the one he uses to address mildly-retarded five year-olds, that his hands were tied by some evil corporate policy and that he sympathized with my plight, I never would have written this post, having toiled in the retail salt mines for years myself. Instead, he provided shitty customer service, and I decided that I would mention it.

theirritablearchitect said...

"a pair of fairly soft-compound Falkens that'll have the life expectancy of cancerous fruit flies, traction control or no."

No shit. I would've presumed that the Falkens were actuall quite hard compound jobs, but the concerns about wear rating, I'm sure, are correct.

Look at the positive; it'll be that much easier to hand the rearend out on those fun corners. Nothing says "shit-eating grin" like a nice oppy-lock, on-power slide through a turn.

theirritablearchitect said...

Ugh. That should be "hang" and not "hand" and I forgot the "y" in actually.


Anonymous said...

"I was all set up to be victimized." And you ask what became of the real comatus?

Take a pejorative-for-pejorative second read of your post, and tell me again you're not playing the girl card on this.

Now that you have advice from no fewer than four regular posters on how the tire thing works, it might be time to say "I had a shitty day" instead of "I was a victim of the corporate patriarchy." Or not.

It's your publication, and you may aim it in any direction you like. You're demonstrably systems-literate enough to know your target audience (and to track comments to their source, making "where's comatus" disingenuous at best). A little less misandry might keep you a certain demographic in the readership (or the commentariat); lately you appear to be going in another direction. Your choice.

Having used both an Alfetta and a Benz for everyday business travel, let me clue you in that, no matter how pure your 'Nazi' or 'roller-skate' motives (no attitude there), the parts & service community will see you foremost as a haughty revenue source. The solution for this is to find who you can trust and deal only with them (actually, with the pfennig-und-deutschmark WeldtWunder, this didn't save me, but Daimler's for another day). Being smart or female has nothing to do with it. NTB pretty much is what it is, and you don't have to be a Big, Strong May-un to have a low expectation of them.

Furthermore. Any attempt to go cheap on tires that can elicit a response of "rainin' jerks" from a student at Rose-Hulman (Google if you must, but it's Maury Rose and Tony Hulman)is, by definition, girl talk. And you're welcome to it.

Tam said...

"A little less misandry might keep you a certain demographic in the readership..."

Misandry? Misandry?


I'll be honest, my first impulse was to toss something snarky, dismissive, and cutting by way of a response, but I feel you deserve better than that.

Mr. Comatus, any misandry you read in my writing is being added by your own perceptions, because there's certainly none here. Plenty of misanthropy, yes, but nothing so silly as misandry. Heck, I prefer the company of males; my closest friends have always been guys at something like a 9:1 ratio, and I don't mean I like being the center of attention of a group of men, rather that I enjoy being accorded the respect of being "just one of the guys".

To deny, however, that a certain minority of the folks with whom you share a restroom engage in the behavior I call 'the "Just A Girl" treatment' flies in the face of observed reality. It is certainly your right to believe that it doesn't happen, that I am crying "Patriarchy!". It is also your right to believe that the Earth is made of green cheese and that the moon is flat.

Fortunately, contrary to the dreary whining of the Feminist Left, males of that persuasion these days are not in the majority, nor are they in any position of power to be keepin' me down.

Hyperbole about the "Corporate Patriarchy" is just silly. What this rant is about, in essence, is lousy customer service. I know it when I see it because I have spent most of the last fifteen years in big-ticket retail. When I had a customer that could not get what they wanted due to an ATF regulation or a corporate policy, I took the time to explain why this was, and to help them find a solution that would at least let them walk away happy. I did not speak to them as though they had the intellect of a none-too-bright Bonobo and refuse to explain the reasonings behind my actions.

Mr. Comatus, for the last fifteen years I have worked in retail and driven high-performance automobiles and motorcycles, sometimes for money. Credit me with the minimal intellect required to:

A)Understand how to buy a goddamn tire. (Believe it or not, this wasn't my first time,) and

B)Know subpar customer service when I see it.

Anonymous said...

Misandry is like bad breath. You can have it for a while before your best friends bring it up. Post titles like "male hen party" are not my deluded perceptions. /Endit.

Preferring the company of males may be a fine thing; I would not presume to judge. It is a trait, though, shared by people who get called "attention whores" and "fag hags," so by itself doesn't do a thing for me. Calling in the sisterhood for support whenever challenged is a symptom of something; what is it, then?

Sharing a bathroom. Is that what it's all about? Way to rise above the fray, there. I didn't use the V-word, you did. Frankly, I was shocked to see it.

"Hyperbole" is what you carried into that tire store with you. The schmuck behind the counter, I'm going to speculate, didn't even know he was in any position of power to be keepin' you down, but you sure as hell custom-cut the role for him. And then you want him fired for Christmas. That's, you know, hard.

I'm skipping right over the employment history part; I don't want to be dismissive and cutting, any more than you do. Probably grossly unfair to bonobos, though. Suffice it to say that the high-speed separations I dealt with did not occur on an on-ramp.

You promise not to autocross until after Christmas. Too clever by half: you autocrossed to Indiana not two weeks ago. If I'd sold you an H tire, I wouldn't be able to sleep.

I desperately want to believe you 'understand how to buy a goddamn tire.' But in this case, you clearly misunderstood the legal implications of tire installation, and the business of where one speed rating leaves off and another takes up in manufacturers' recommendations. Several of your commenters filled in that information for you, and you should be grateful to them for that.

A [female FWIW] neighbor of mine drives a Z3, and somehow manages to carry a full-sized spare tire. If you'd like me to find out how she does it, I'd be willing to ask.

Tam said...

"A [female FWIW] neighbor of mine drives a Z3, and somehow manages to carry a full-sized spare tire. If you'd like me to find out how she does it, I'd be willing to ask."

I'd be interested to know. Perhaps she has the standard 15" rims, as the 17" wheels will not even fit in the trunk with a tire mounted. The last time I had to transport one, it rode in the PAX accommodations.

Tam said...

My bad, the smaller wheels are 16x7's, not 15-inchers.

Still, it's gotta be a snug fit. The factory donut spare is slung underneath like a picke-em-up...

Anonymous said...

While patrolling the freeways in the early '00s, I discovered that most of the Acura level, and all of the higher end cars bigger than a shoebox carried a full sized spare. A lot of the lower level cars were set up to fit one as an option.
I had a good laugh when I discovered that the newer Porsche's came equipped with a body bag for the bad tire so it could ride in the passenger space. Only used one, as they mostly wanted 3A for transport to a tire store.
Those mini donut spares are a joke. In 3.5yrs, I found a grand total of THREE with the required 60 psi. Average was about 15 psi! These things bleed air right thru the carcass, due to being made so light. At 15 psi, they are good for about 2 miles at speed, before they disintegrate. Most are mounted upside down, so have to be unbolted to access the tire stem. These need to be topped off twice a year, at least.

A tire plug kit, and an air compressor are useful. BTW, if space is a problem for the compressor, take it apart and mount everything to a metal plate or piece of wood. (runs a lot cooler too).