Chubby White Guy

I met a chubby guy.

One after the other. One day I was in a paint shop, next day in a car registration office, and then couple of days later I see myself at a tire shop. The pattern of where I’ve been at in the past few days shows that this month is definitely car month. More expenses in short. The price I have to pay in maintaining a 10-year old car.

Yesterday I finally replaced my car’s Goodyear Duraplus tires that already breached three years since February this year. I’ve been using the same brand after letting go of the noisy stock Bridgestones as I’ve proven that Goodyear tires are better and tough. In fact, this last set held on until the last thread pattern are almost gone which why it was hard for me to easily trust any other brand.

But here comes the chubby white guy. Up to the last minute I tried to fit another set of Goodyear tires specified for my car. The bad news is that even Goodyear dealers I’ve checked out don’t have the 175/70R13 tire readily available anymore. Fortunately someone recommended a tire shop that gave me an offer that’s hard to dismiss–a discounted Michelin.

Michelin has very good reputation despite the tire brand’s poor performance against the Pirellis at the F1 races years ago. Ask random car guys and most would likely say that Michelin tires are better but pricey. I had the same impression until I contacted someone at Minerva Yokohama tires in Calamba. A Michelin tire at Php 3000 a piece was a steal.

Two weeks ago I discovered my front tires have deteriorated badly, both would fail the coin test, and since then wet roads got me more worried than before. So imagine my relief when my schedule and wallet–wifey’s support included–aligned at last to get all four tires replaced before heavy monsoon rains strike again.

Needless to say, I’m back on safer grounds. The Michelin tires made me feel confident driving once more as the car has the grip it needs to stay in control. It’s also noticeable that there’s lesser road noise which means I can focus better behind the wheel. Only distraction now is the glowing blue seven segment LED display on my USB charger. Dear heavens, I need that voltage stuck at 12.5 volts please. Next stop soon, car battery shop. I need an online job.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Introvert mode off later.)

Tire(d) talk

It’s rainy season again here in the Philippines and for people especially those who drive cars (or any other form of wheeled transportation) this means being more aware of another hazard – slippery roads. On top of staying on alert during rainy season drive, it is also imperative that drivers keep a well-maintained vehicle and give extra attention to the tires which greatly affect critical driving factors such as maneuverability and braking distance. And so yesterday, I did just that and had my 4-year old tires replaced, all four of them — courtesy of the red plastic armless bandit.

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There are 3 quick ways to determine when a tire needs replacement:

Tire gauge. Reputable car service shops has this measuring tool so leave it to them unless you want to pick one for personal use (though I have yet to see one being sold in stores like Ace Hardware).

Penny test. Howstuffworks.com offers a guide on how to do this using an American penny but do not worry if you don’t have one as Goodyear Servitek leaflets suggest using a 5-peso coin as an alternative so it should work just fine.

Tire wear indicators. Most automotive tires have tire wear bands that be- come obvious when the tire is about to be replaced. One can go for the quick visual check or the tire mark test but either way will tell if it is time to head to the nearest Goodyear Servitek tire shop.

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The last time I was in a tire shop was more than five years ago and I noticed yesterday that technology continues to make a car mechanic’s life easier. Tire alignment is now wireless, thanks to high-tech cameras and software, any trained (take note) mechanic can now perform camber and toe diagnosis and alignment in a jiffy.

(Image from the web.)

The funny thing however with my recent Goodyear Servitek experience is that I have proven once again that technology alone isn’t an assurance of a satisfying work. I can tell all about it but then again this tire talk is already tiring enough. Anyway, to make a long story short, while technology has made the car mechanic’s life easier, irate customers remain a big challenge. Hmm. Can anyone from MIT solve this? I can be your guinea pig.

Drive safely folks!

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (In the next few days, I’ll be availing five free Starbucks frappucinos .)