25 October 2004

New Tires

I went to Costco in Reno today and got a set of tires for Mrs. G.'s pickup. The old ones had 40K on them, not worn all the way out, but too worn to do another winter. We get a lot of snow here and traction is essential for safety, for steering and braking as well as going straight ahead. There's a big storm due tonight, and besides I had a $60-off coupon that would have expired in a few days. No time like the present.

In case you're not familiar with Costco, it's a chain of membership wholesale stores. They sell things in bulk and the price is right. Let me put it this way: If you buy some creamed corn, for instance, you'd better be in the mood for creamed corn, 'cuz you're gonna get a lot of it. If you need one of anything, go to W**M**t. If you need ten, go to Costco. Their selection of items is limited, but extensive nonetheless. Baby clothes to caskets.

Did I mention that they sell tires? I've been getting good price and service there for a long time, and I don't even bother checking anywhere else any more. You get free flat repair, rotation, and re-balancing forever with purchase. Their adjustment policy is always in the customer's favor and handled with courtesy, the way it should be. I got there one minute after opening time and was tenth in line. By the time I got to the service desk, there were ten more behind me. They sell a LOT of tires.

Well, remembering Fixer's post on the subject of lugnuts, I decided to watch the tire guys and see if they had read it.

They put Dakota Sue (we name every member of the family) up on a 9000lb side post frame lift manufactured by Western Lifts. It had a picture of a rootin'-tootin' cowpoke on it. They removed the wheels. Duh.

This is where it starts to get good. One guy removed the old tires and mounted the new ones. He handed each one off to the balancer. The balancer took each tire as he finished it and hung it back on the wheel studs with one lugnut to hold it in place. Then, two guys with air wrenches, one on either side of the vehicle, lightly rattled the lugnuts down to center them.

Then they lowered the rig 'til it was about six inches off the floor. A different guy went around the truck with a wheel chock and a torque wrench and torqued the nuts in a cross-pattern. He left the torque wrench on the last lugnut, wheel chock under the tire, and hollered "fore"! I ducked, thinking I was gonna get a Topflite in the jibs any second!

Now, double-checking wheel installation is nothing new, but I've never seen this: Yet another guy came by and made sure the torque wrench clicked on every lugnut, again in a cross-pattern.

I think they have done this before.

I thanked them for torquing the lugnuts, mostly so they would know somebody noticed.

I headed for home with my new tires, happy as a clam. Tires wear slowly and you don't notice the deterioration of the ride quality until you get a new set. The truck rode like brand new. If you're interested, this is my second set of Michelin X Radial LT 235/75X15. All-season, mud & snow rated. Quiet and smooth. I like 'em!

Oh, yeah. I think the tire guys must be regular readers of TF&G. They knew what they were doing. Why go anyplace else?

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