Highway 93 runs north from Wells, NV to Twin Falls, ID. It is mostly two lanes, with not much in the way of shoulders – just gravel that slopes rather steeply away from the roadbed. Every so often there is a gravel pullout on the side of the road, but nothing very big… certainly not very accommodating for a large motorhome towing a vehicle.
As we left our overnight spot in Wells this morning, Odel noticed that the motorhome was pulling to the left, and more than “just a little”. After some discussion, we decided to pull over and do a walk around of the rig… except that there was no safe place to pull over. In fact, there was no unsafe place to pull over. No place to pull over period!
We had around 120 miles to our destination in Twin Falls, so did all that we could do – kept on going, nervously. Oh, how I longed for one of the many large, lovely rest stops we had visited along I-80 yesterday!
Forth-eight miles from Wells, our Pressure Pro tire pressure monitoring system began screeching its alarm: low air in the front left tire of the Jeep, 26 pounds. No place to pull over, of course. Within 15 seconds, the air pressure was down to double-ought: two big zeros on the display. Our first blowout.
We were climbing the slope of yet another small mountain range. All Odel could do was slow down (though of course we both freaking out verbally – I’m sure I said something like “Wah, wah, wah!!!)).
As we neared the top of the summit, guess what? A large (sloping, of course) gravel pullout! We were so shaken that I don’t know if we drove a 1/4 mile or a 1/2 mile after the blowout, but we were SO GRATEFUL to have found a place to get off the road.
The tire was in shreds, but the wheel was still undamaged. Hurray for Pressure Pro! Without the warning, who knows how much damage we would have done as we continued on to Twin Falls?
In spite of our problem, we had points in our favor. First, a pullout, so we were safely off the road. And not just a pullout – a pullout at the top of a summit where were could use our cell phones and WiFi (we had just driven through many miles of little to NO cell service in the valleys below). What great good fortune.
It was almost comedic trying to describe our location to the service rep at Coach Net, our emergency roadside service provider. She had a hard time understanding that there was no “nearest intersection” and no “street address”, that the “nearest community” was 18 miles away and consisted solely of casinos and motels. The best I could provide was “a gravel pullout alongside highway 93, 18 miles south of the Idaho/Nevada border, surrounded by miles and miles of desolate scrub”. If there was a community in the area, WE were it, a community of 2 named Brokedown!
Thanks to our wonderful Garmin NUVI GPS, I was able to provide our GPS coordinates, our distance from Wells (south of us), our distance from the state line (north of us), and our distance to Twin Falls, all with the simple touch of a button (I could have provided the elevation, too, but she didn’t need it).
Next, I pulled up Google on my computer (hurray for our Verizon aircard!) and found the Les Schwab tire store in Twin Falls, Idaho. A quick phone call confirmed that we could be towed there, and elicited the name of a good local towing company with a flatbed truck. I called Coach-Net back with our destination address, the tow company suggestion, and things got underway.
One and 1/2 hours later, the tow truck arrived, Jules was loaded, and we took off to meet again at Les Schwab. Too bad for us, we lost an hour when we crossed into Idaho and the Mountain Time Zone – but Jules had two new-to-us (good, used) tires mounted and we were back on the road before too long. Just two and a half miles to our goal, Rock Creek Park, where we are now comfortably situated, looking out on lovely green lawns and Rock Creek. I am unwinding with a margarita while Odel went off to try to solve another (thankfully minor) Jeep problem.
The big question: what the heck happened? We had four brand-spanking-new tires on the Jeep, just purchased in Sacramento. We ALWAYS (and this morning was no different) check to make sure the Jeep tires are rolling (not sliding) and the brake lights are working before we pull out for the day’s drive.
We noticed the motorhome pulling to the left as we left Wells (a big clue, since that problem was solved once we detached the Jeep), but the tire didn’t blow out until 45 miles later! The left front tire was totally ruined, but the right front tire was ALMOST usable, just moderate damage (it did need replacement), and the back tires are fine.
If it was a brake problem (brakes locked for some reason), wouldn’t both tires (or all four) have similar damage from being dragged? Since they didn’t, does that imply that the front left tire sustained major damage later in the trip – a nail or other major puncture? Yet the “pulling to the left” symptom was evident almost from the start, 45 miles before the tire failure. It’s a mystery, probably not to be solved by us non-mechanics.
So we lost a day, and paid out $190 for a couple of good used tires. Coach-Net picked up the $260 bill for the tow. The weather is great, the margarita now gone (but another is not far away), and all is well in our world once again.