What you see above is a Michelin Pilot Super Sport that was once attached to my Civic Si. It was also, at some point, in one piece.
Two weeks before I was going to put on my winter tires (one of the benefits in working for an indie garage — free tire storage and swaps), while driving through a construction zone, I sprung a leak in my tire thanks to an errant bit of shrapnel. A short distance later, the cabin was filled with a bassy note and my steering wheel began to vibrate. I looked into my side-view mirror just in time to see handfuls of black rubber spit from underneath the car.
I pulled over. Fuck.
My TPMS system hadn't been active since I accidentally broke one of the sensors trying to swap my winter tires myself. So I only knew about the tire once it had exploded. I threw the tire in my trunk and, equipped with a donut, limped my ass to work on side roads. I guess I'll just swap to winters a little early, I said to myself.
One week later, I finally ascended to the peak of Bullshit Mountain.
What a fucking joke.
This time, I was doing about 85 in the left lane of I-294 when the shudder and the bass returned. Thankfully, I was still in a state of hypervigilance, given the ersatz PTSD that came from my first tread separation. I pulled to the left shoulder and assessed the situation. It was my right rear tire — the same corner that had a donut on it just a week prior. It was also the side facing traffic, traffic that was moving at 85 mph.
So I got back in the car, waited for the largest gap I could find, and praying that I'd gauged everything correctly, dropped the clutch and took off for the right shoulder. The wheel was shaking, and I felt the tire getting ready to separate from the tread completely, but I wasn't about to change a tire with my back only three inches from the fastest traffic in the Chicagoland area.
This time around, I cheaped out and waited a while to replace the tire. You know how the donut says to not go over 50, and to drive immediately to a garage? It's all lies. I checked the quality daily; it will hold up for hundreds of miles at standard speeds.
(That said, take a page from The 10 Dos and 500 Don'ts of Knife Safety, and don't do what Donny Don't does.)
A few weeks later, I broke my left rear wheel.
This was my own dumb fault, though. I held the e-brake for just a second too long on a snowy curve, and I made contact with what I'd hoped was a softly-sloped curb. Nope, it was a 90-degree motherfucker, and it motherfucked me good. The bead held like that for the one-mile drive home, and, after putting the donut back on, I bought a new wheel posthaste.
A year or so later, this past winter, changing jobs in the interim, I was headed to Detroit from Chicago to cover NAIAS. I was driving a brand-new Kia Cadenza press loaner.
I was on the feeder ramp from the Skyway to I-94 E, which was still covered in snow, and so I was following the ruts around. Right inside that rut was a pothole the size of a pizza box, which I didn't see, but I sure as shit felt. The dashboard lit up like Fremont Street, and so I pulled over to swap the tire.
Of course, the front tire blew, so I had to swap the donut onto the rear, then the still-intact rear onto the front. I had about three feet of usable shoulder at the end of the feeder ramp, and so half the car was sticking out into the lane. A quick ring to the State Police solved that problem, and with the five-o blocking the lane, I changed the tires and went on my way.
Once again, the donut proved to have serious mettle, taking me all the way to Detroit without issue.
A few weeks ago, I had a Panamera 4S press loaner, and its right rear tire sprung a soft leak.
I have shit luck with tires.