Cars, tires, blowouts, and the Gardiner

This is my exciting story of wildness and madness today. It’s not really that exciting, but I’m having so much fun refining it and repeating it, that I will repeat it one last time here.

Above you can see the map where I estimate I blew out my tire going about 100km+ in the fast lane, and where I had to get to during rush hour so I could successfully get off the road. This is to set framework for the story of what happened and pictures, and reflections and so on. Big lesson learned, make sure you know the age of your tires when you buy a new car and if they are 5+ years old, replace them asap.

About 1 minute before the tires blew out, I was noticing something odd with the traction of the car. Since it’s an old car, I assumed it was nothing too important, but compensated a bit by slowing down and preparing just in case it wasn’t just road vibrations coming into the car.

Suzanne, my wife, noticed pretty much the moment the tire started to go, turning to me and saying, “do you hear that weird…” (Clunk, thup thup thup thup) This was the exact moment the tire blew out and the car fishtailed while I regained control “noise?”

Strangely enough, you would think that you would be very nervous or stressed in this situation, but instead, all of my training from AMA came into play and I just went into 100% emergency driving mode. Only responding to Suzanne with a very calm “Yep, we just blew out a tire.” As I looked around for any way to get off the road and out of everyone’s way.

I knew there was an exit coming up if nothing else, so I negotiated my way with the flat across all of the lanes of traffic (so I wouldn’t block rush hour traffic any worse than I needed to) and made it safely to the Jameson exit (seen in the map). Finding an enbridge powerstation, I pulled over there to survey the damage, making a note that when I was pulling into the powerstation little outcropping the car was fishtailing at the slightest push. At this point I saw the following:

Completely detached tire
Completely detached tire

Yes, what you see there is a tire whose treads were entirely detached from the rim. If you were to look slightly further back on the road, you’d actually see a little bit of a gouge where it started to dig in when I drove onto the outcropping. Thankfully, I didn’t damage the rim at all, so I was able to get new tires.

These Goodyear Assurance tires clearly had some problems, even though they looked brand new. I was very glad at this point for my CAA membership. I called CAA to make sure there wasn’t going to be any other issues. They sent a tow truck who reviewed the situation, declared that the axle and car were fine, and replaced the tire with a spare for me, letting me know about Kipling Tire and how to get there to replace my tires.

By the way, very pleased with Kipling Tire. They looked at my tires and immediately alerted me to the problem. All of my tires were from 2006… Over 5 years ago. Yes, because I didn’t know to check the date on the tires, I had been driving back and forth from North Bay with tires that were just on the brink of blowing. After a bit of discussion, we got new tires, and discovered that Kipling Tire gives you a nice coffee at a restaurant next door.

Which, I must say, also had some amazingly delicious dishes which I was able to enjoy (Bacon-Wrapped Dates, anyone?)

Long story short, lessons and thoughts learned from this whole endeavour:

  1. Take CAA driver training in whatever province you are in, and if they offer emergency maneuver training, do it. It is worth it, simply because it helps you remain calm in an emergency situation.
  2. Get CAA for your car. I know I could’ve changed the tire myself, but having a tow truck come and deal with it, at no charge, as well as tell me where I could go to get the servicing I need. Well, that was totally worth it.
  3. Check the dates of your tires if you buy a new car. My tires looked almost brand new. It was only when a tire technician took a very close look at them that he was able to let me know what happened. He even commented that he would’ve never guessed the age from how good the tires looked.
  4. If you need tire work, totally go to Kipling Tire and try out the restaurant next door. The chef is fantastic, and the service was very good. Highly recommend.
  5. If you blow out your tire, or have some emergency on the Gardiner, remain calm, and please do what I did, get off the road entirely. That way no one needs to deal with a 1 hour backup because a lane is blocked.

It was good stuff, Suzanne, my lovely wife is ok and I’m really thankful to everyone who was concerned about her and my safety. We have 4 brand new Michelin tires on my car and they are warrantied for a very long time, so I feel a lot more confident moving forward. All in all, a very exciting day.

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