First, hubby was a little late coming back from playing poker but we still had time so we went to our favorite Chinese restaurant. Since it was Sunday we figured we would dash in for a quick meal but were shocked to see a long line. We decided that since we had time we would wait and eventually we had a nice meal before heading off to the show. With 30 minutes until showtime, we left the restaurant and got in our van then noticed that it had a flat tire. Fixing it would have taken who knows how long since we had never changed the tire in the van before so hubby decided we should hop on the shuttle that had just arrived which goes from the off-strip casino to the Strip. The shuttle dropped us off mid-strip and we hustled ourselves to the Mirage Casino where the show was being held (a little over a mile). Did I mention I was in heels and it was freezing outside?
We made it to the show with five minutes to spare, tried to put the tire situation aside for a couple of hours and enjoyed the show (we really did enjoy the show, it was amazingly elaborate and when I found out the lady next to us paid $150 for her ticket while we paid $100 for two it was a little extra bonus).
After the show (about midnight now) we went in reverse--walked back down the strip, caught the shuttle and got dropped off where the van was. Fortunately by now the parking lot had cleared out a bit so hubby moved the van into the middle of two parking spaces and we set to work. After digging out all of the very ancient emergency stuff we kept in the back of the van and trying the Fix A Flat which didn't work at all, we set to work changing the tire. We were both crawling around on the ground to make sure the jack was set right, it then took ages to jack up the van, then after practically wrenching off the spare which was located UNDER the van I decided to read the directions and found that there was a simple way to lower the spare that didn't involve rolling around on the ground. We got the tire changed out then found that the spare, after hanging under the van for over a decade, was virtually flat. We were able to drive one block on it to the gas station where we found that no amount of air would fill up the spare since it was coming apart from the rim. Ugh. Now it was about 1am. So we tried putting air into the original flat tire and that seemed to work so we went about changing out the spare with the original flat yet now filled with air tire. We were much faster this time, working like a pit crew! Note that this wasn't in the best part of town and people were driving by slowly looking at us. After adding a bit more air, we hoped it would hold until we got home. Which it did.
This morning hubby took the van to the tire shop and ended up buying four new tires (turns out two of the tires had nails in them and all seemed to be losing air and they were pretty much worn and had maybe 5,000 miles left). Now the van has four brand new tires, hubby swears it drives much better, and he was able to use the least worn tire as the spare (he had to buy a new rim so it would fit where the donut did but it was cheaper than buying a new donut spare). Whew.
- Practice changing your tires BEFORE you need to do it in the dark in the freezing cold.
- When you have your tires rotated, be sure to ask them to check the air in the spare (we had never done this so it probably went flat years ago).
- Have a back-up plan. If I was by myself I probably would have panicked and tried to fix the tire first thus missing the show but hubby kept a cool head and we ended up enjoying the show (if we wouldn't have shown up we would have lost the money and voided the tickets!), then fixing the tire problem.
- Carry cash. We had to scrounge to come up with enough quarters for the air machine. From now on I am putting quarters and some cash in the car for emergencies.
- Make sure you have the correct emergency equipment in your car. The jack and tools were right were the manufacturer put them so many years ago but we did decide we need to put a pair of work gloves in the van (our hands were pretty greasy by the time we got through), and a small tarp (the knees of our pants were similarly greasy from kneeling on the ground).
- Once again, having an emergency fund was a lifesaver because the tires came to a little over $500. If we wouldn't have had money in our emergency fund we would have either been stranded or had the punctured tire repaired but it would be more susceptible to blow outs.