Charles Senteio

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A Close Call

Early Sunday AM on July 29th my Keller neighbor Chris arrived at my Condo with my convertible. He borrowed a flat bed and had trailored it up from Keller. Since I’m having the basement finished I decided that I shouldn’t keep the car in the garage because of all the work that would be going on and the resulting traffic. One bay of the 2 car garage was full with my furniture that was going to go downstairs and the other bay was open, however I didn’t think I should keep the car there during the construction. My buddy DeLance, who lives on Troy which is just north of Detroit about 75 miles from me, said it would be OK for me to store the car at his house until the basement was done and the garage was free.

On Sunday afternoon I had Chris drive my truck and follow me as I drove the Mustang to DeLance’s house. Since it was such a nice day I had the top down and set out for what I thought would be an enjoyable drive. About 15 miles into the trip, heading east on Interstate 96 just past exit 120, my driver’s side tire blew and rendered the car pretty much uncontrollable. I was going about 70 mph at the time so the noise, coupled with the lack of control of the car, definitely got my attention. I quickly drifted across the left lane and on to the grassy median, continuing to drift to the left. The median was about 20 yards wide and as I was continuing to drift with no control I thought I’d better slow down before something bad happened. I had let my foot off of the gas of course but hadn’t applied the brake because I was thinking that might make the lack of control even worse. This made sense as I looked ahead and didn’t see anything major coming up that it would be bad to smack into, I was just plowing through about 2 foot high wildflowers and grass. As I tried to keep the wheels straight and establish some control I kept drifting to the left, closer and closer to oncoming traffic. Rut roh. I knew that heading into westbound traffic would be really bad so I decided to try the brakes. The car came to a stop about 10 feet from the westbound fast lane. After a very hectic 30 seconds or so I was safe. The car looked ok. The tire was of course was in rough shape (see pic), the fender emblem was gone, and the rocker panel molding which runs along bottom of car between the tires was gone. Chris rolled up and looked pretty shocked, as I must’ve. He asked if I was OK and I said yea. I told him I was more worried about the car. We had to scream across the traffic as he parked my truck in the brake down lane (on the left of the 2 lane highway) and I was of course in the median. Chris crossed the traffic to help me assess the damage. It was pretty bad, but not nearly as bad as it could’ve been. As I glanced ahead I saw a large concrete pillar that supported an overpass about ½ mile ahead. Hmmm if this blowout had happened just a bit later, or where there happened to be guard rails, this could’ve been much worse.
Just then an Ingham County police officer rolled up. He was very cool and just asked if we needed any help, which we really didn’t as we were still in a bit of shock from what was going on. I told him we were gonna head back to my crib for another jack and put some air in the spare. He said he wasn’t sure if we could leave the car there, I didn’t think we had much of a choice, but he called his supervisor who gave the approval just as long as it didn’t stay there for more than a day or so. Of course we would have it out of there by then.
We decided to head back to the Condo to get another jack and put some air in my spare. Even though I had a bumper jack we didn’t think that would work well in the soft ground, besides I wasn’t crazy about jacking my car up by it’s bumper. We crossed the highway again and got in my truck to head back to the Condo. I put the air in the spare and we headed out to in Chris’ truck. We had a pretty uneventful time jacking up the car, changing the tire. I was impressed with how many folks were slowing down to ask for help. By then the shock of the afternoon events had worn off a bit and we were just a couple of guys changing a tire on the highway. Before we took off for Troy Chris happened to spot the rocker panel molding in the grass and scooped it up. This proved to be a very good move. A couple of miles down the road I decided that it would be better to just bring the car back to the condo instead of trying to get it to Troy on my shaky spare. I didn’t want the car in Troy if I was needing to do some work on it so I called DeLance and let him know what happened, and our change of plans. I kept it under 50 mph or so and slowly made my way back to the condo with Chris behind me with his hazards on. The trip was uneventful and we got back safely. Well I did see a few drivers flip Chris the finger for driving so slow. When I previously lived in Michigan I observed that drivers here, while safe, drove the fastest of anywhere I’d driven in the country. Even though I-96 is a two lane highway where we were, some drivers still seemed pretty pissed that Chris, again with his hazards on, was only going about 50 mph.
I put those tires on the car when I registered it back in 1998 and I guess it was time for some new ones, the blowout was a big time wake up call. The following day we went and got 3 new tires. Ironically I had replaced one of the tires a few weeks before leaving Texas because it had a bubble, this should have been a warning that I needed new tires. The blowout was warning enough, I was gonna replace the other two before something else happened. I also got a new spare just for good measure.
The good fellas at Belle Tire (pics of tire were taken at their counter) got us all set up. They were actually very impressed with the blowout as a couple of them said they had never seen such a complete blowout where all the tread was gone and so much of the steel was exposed. Later in the week I spent some time bending the fender back into place and actually got the rocker panel molding back on. My good friend Stacy is gonna pick up and mail me another fender molding from Dallas and once I put that on, I should be back in business. I should be cool with some touch up paint just as long as the rocker panel trim doesn’t pop off.

I’ve driven it a bit in the past few days and it is holding together well. I think I can deal with the fender bend OK over the next few years until I make time to address this correctly.


  • Glad to see that you made it through the tire blowout ordeal OK.

    Vincent H.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:58 PM  

  • Thanks Vinnie Vee! Safe and sound.

    By Blogger Charles Senteio, at 12:11 AM  

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