Our first road accident: Tire go boom!

Published May 29, 2017   Posted in In Retirement

If you’re on the road enough, it is bound to happen. For us, we were cruising down westbound I-80 with our Airstream in tow. The RAM’s speedometer read 70 MPH. Not more than 35 miles from our stopping point around Wendover Utah, things were smooth sailing.

Until we heard what sounded like a gunshot.

It began with a loud, sharp “Boom!”, followed by a wicked vibration. Shit. The wife’s all but screaming “Pull over!”. I released the gas peddle and coasted over to the side of the road, glancing in my side mirror.

Our truck’s rear tire blew“.

And boy, did it ever “blow”. That tire was thoroughly destroyed. The tire’sΒ tread was ruthlessly ripped off, exposing rubber and other support fragments.Β It honestly looked as though the tire exploded. And in a way, it did.

With 53′ semi-tractor trailers barreling passed us at a velocity that felt like a freight train, we fished around in our glove compartment for our USAA insurance card and called the roadside assistance number. About an hour later, a service dude helped us put our spare tire on and we limped our way into Wendover.

We found a nice comfy spot at the Wendover Kampgrounds of America (KOA) – a spot that we called “home” for longer than we thought.

Funny thing is…we had planned to get the tires replaced on our truck this fall when we return back to Tucson for a few months. The tires were aging, but still had what I considered to be usable life left.

Guess I overestimated a bit. Lesson learned. Never assume that your tires are okay, especially when they are showing signs of wear. Be proactive. Tires be importante!

But that’s not all…

As the rubber whipped around the tire as I coasted to a stop, the fuel intake line got severed and the tank’s neck was completely busted. More or less, this equates to an inability to fill up the truck with more diesel. We needed a new fuel hose and tank before we left.

An extended stay in beautiful West Wendover

“Wendover Will” in West Wendover, NV

The plan was to boondock near the salt flats just east of Wendover, Utah. After the tire “issue”, we decided to call Wendover’s local KOA home for a few days until we got our tire situation squared away. Could be worse. It was cloudy and cold for the majority of the days, but we also had 30 amp electric and water the entire time. It wasn’t cheap, but whatevs.

It happens.

Wendover is your typical small town that straddles the Nevada / Utah border. The best I can tell, it’s “Wendover, Utah” and “West Wendover, Nevada”. We are in West Wendover.

It’s not quite a dust town, but definitely one of the smaller established towns that we’ve seen since we began living on the road. A couple large casinos primarily support the town. There’s a Smith’s grocery store and what looked like an abandoned HR Block building. The rest is primarily mom-and-pop type stuff and a pretty new looking City Hall building. As of 2014, the population of West Wendover was just over 4,400 folks.

This instance reiterated a few things for me:

This is not a vacation – Shit happens. It happened to us on I-80. That’s life, and we need to understand that although we’re living the life we chose for ourselves, bad things can and do happen.

We need to be flexible and roll with the punches – We didn’t plan on paying for a KOA campsite and sitting without much of a view for nearly more than a week. Then again, we also didn’t plan to blow a tire at 70 MPH, either. But it happened, and we are making the best of our days here in West Wendover with campground showers and services until we set sail once again.

This is what emergency funds are for – All told, this set us back around $2,000 including the cost of campground fees as we sat in the KOA waiting for the fuel tank to arrive. It sucks, but hey, that’s why we have a reserve at the ready. For situations like this.

Also, tires are important. Whatever you do today, make it a point to check the condition of your tires. Not only the PSI (air pressure), but also the tread. Look for wear marks or scratches around the tire wall.

When in doubt, change ’em out. Because if they do blow, you aren’t just paying for new tires. You are also paying for any other damage that occurred during the blowout. Towing and service call fees. Not to mention the inconvenience of dealing with it all.

Pro tip: If you do need to change a tire, consider changing ALL the tires. If one of your tires is close to the end, chances are your other tires are right behind it. Do yourself (and your vehicle) a favor by giving it brand new feet all around.

We thought that we were being proactive by changing our tires this year. Turns out we weren’t proactive enough.

Lesson learned.

We track our net worth using Personal Capital


35 responses to “Our first road accident: Tire go boom!”

  1. Yikes! Glad you were safe, Steve. It freaks me out to think about hanging out on the side of the road waiting for emergency help too. My husband was a cop (retired now) and roadside accidents are way more common than you’d think too. Time is your luxury now – so a situation like this doesn’t derail your “vacation” plans! They just remind you of some important lessons along the way.

  2. TSR –

    Man… sounds like a tough spot to have a popped tire, glad everyone is okay. If anything – you’ve got some funny memories of all of it and roll through the punches, no doubt. Appreciate you sharing it with us and again – glad you guys are okay!


  3. Wow – that is one helluva blowout! That sucks about the cost, but like you said, shit happens. Glad you guys are Ok.

    — Jim

  4. Sorry to hear about your experience. An hour is not a bad turn around time from the insurance at least. Another reason to consider changing tires at the same time at least per axle is a difference in treadwear can cause odd car behavior in an emergency.

    • Steve says:

      Very true, FTF. We much prefer to get four fresh tires when one of them eventually wears out. Same thing with headlights – if one goes out, we replace them both cause the other is probably right around the corner.

  5. Aw damn, sorry this happened to you! I love the USAA roadside assistance. I think they offer free towing up to a certain mileage as part of our credit card perks.

  6. apathyends says:

    Glad everyone is ok (sure the dogs freaked out a bit!).

    We just replaced tires from a nail that went through the side wall, expensive but not something to go cheap on.

  7. brian503 says:

    Sorry to hear Steve. That’s some blowout! Glad to hear no one was hurt and you’re rolling with the unexpected.

  8. ssichler says:

    Glad you guys are all right. How are the tires on your trailer? My understanding is that ST trailer tires are only rated to 65 mph and should be replaced after 5 years regardless of how good they might look.

    • Steve says:

      Depends on the tires. We’re actually having our trailer’s tires replaced this week, so we’ll have brand new rubber back there as well. Not taking any more chances. πŸ™‚

  9. Carl Pascale says:

    Thanks for the reminder about tires Steve. The age of the tire matters as much as the tread depth. Tires more than six years old need to be inspected regularly. By the time you hit ten years the safest move is to replace.

    • Steve says:

      We aren’t sure how old those tires were. They did show some signs of wear, especially along the wall of the tire. The tread was getting low, but they still seemed to have life left in them. Guess not! πŸ˜‰

  10. centsiblyrich says:

    That’s scary, especially with a trailer in tow. I’m glad you guys are okay and it wasn’t any worse than it was. πŸ™‚ Good lesson on the tires. Sometimes I think my husband buys our tires a little prematurely, but maybe I was wrong!

    • Steve says:

      I’d say that you’re better safe than sorry. Tires are super important on your vehicle, especially if it’s towing something. When in doubt, change ’em out.

  11. paulandrews says:

    I’m sure there is nothing stressful at all about having 52′ boxes of metal flying past you at 70 mph… πŸ˜‰ I had to replace the tires on my Tucson a couple months ago, and THAT was not a fun experience for the bank account. I don’t want to imagine how much it ran you that day. Glad to hear that you’re ok (and that you were able to weather the burden, both in terms of staying at a KOA and getting a new tire, unforeseen). Any plans to hit Vegas, or have you already done so?

    • Steve says:

      Ha! No, nothing at all stressful about that. We’ve been to Vegas, but not on this trip. Honestly, we have no real desire to go to Vegas itself…well, at least the strip. Been there, done that. We’d love to do things in the Vegas area, though.

  12. I am sorry to hear about the tire, but whatever happened it’s always good to remember that it could’ve been worse. Life happens, it doesn’t matter if you travel, live in RV or in a house. You’ve got your lesson and for some reason πŸ™‚ I am sure that the next time you’ll pay close attention to the tires.

  13. Jennifer Reed says:

    That picture says it all! Glad everything is back to “normal”. I take an annual road trip with my teen kids (this will be our 4th summer) its a MAJOR road trip 3-4 weeks, and 4-6,000 miles. Every year something has happened to my SUV. Last year was the worst though. We were in Quebec City, Quebec and heading out to head to Montreal when right away the car gave us trouble. Trying to find a auto repair shop in that city was tough but we did and they told us after inspection that we needed a new TRANSMISSION! Oh my! But wait, they didn’t have a transmission, will have to obtain a used one from another city and that will take a day, then a couple days to install. Only two younger employees spoke English (that goodness) AND they loaned us a car/free, we rented a cheap hotel room and waited / called / waited for our car to be done. This cost us $3000. So see, it could have been worse for you! Fingers crossed this year for an UNEVENTFUL Trip (we head out in 12 days) Best, Jenny

  14. SteveK says:

    Since you’re living on the road, tires are the equivalent of a critical home maintenance item for you guys. Glad to hear everyone is safe.

  15. Binged on your last 2 weeks of YouTube vids today and caught myself holding my breath during the tire changing. And that gas fuel line yikes! Glad everyone is okay and you were able to move on from West Wendover.

  16. Mr. Tako says:

    Glad everybody was OK. Tire blowouts at highway speeds can be really dangerous.

    Thankfully, it only ended up costing you some time and a little money. Could have been a lot worse!

  17. RichUncle EL says:

    Yeah good advice. I use the quarter trick on my tires, don’t know if it applies on your RV tires.(Size difference) Stuff happens when your having fun. Good luck that June goes just as planned.

  18. Wow that was quite the tire blowout. Glad to hear that everyone was okay after the tire popped. God cars are just expensive, depreciating beasts, but you had some great takeaways from this experience. It sucks you had to dip into your emergency fund, but that is why you have it. Also goes to show that normal maintenance for a car is key. I spent more than others on nicer tires, but it was an expense that I thought was worth it. Rolling with the punches is also sound advice, and I’m sure this is a trip you will be talking about for a long long time. How can you ever forget your stay at the Wendover Will.


  19. Mrs Groovy says:

    How scary! I’m glad you and Courtney are safe! Imagine how much more stressful this would have been had you been on vacation! If you have a limited amount of time, losing a few days and spending more than you anticipated becomes very aggravating. Add that to thinking about returning to work — and a major inconvenience could have felt like more of a nightmare.

  20. GNR says:

    I’m sorry, I’m probably going to sound like a bit of a wet blanket, but I’ve got some experience with what you’re doing. You need to be able handle a tire change on your own. Towing is high load scenario for tires which tends to cause extra heat, and heat is usually what causes blowouts like that. You need to know how to monitor the heat in your tires – just putting new tires on isn’t really enough. You can kill a new tire too if you’re loading it improperly. Those load levelers you’ve got can do some interesting things to the load on the tires. You may find reading through a commercial drivers license manual interesting reading if you haven’t done that already.

    I came across you through the Mad Fientist, very entertaining.

    • Steve says:

      No worries, GNR! Fear not, I do know how to change a tire. I feared that we might need a tow instead, but didn’t – and, it’s nice actually putting our insurance dollars to good use. If we’re out in the middle of nowhere without cell signal, I’ll change it myself. πŸ™‚

      Also, we have a TMPS that monitors the PSI and temperature of every one of our tires – trailer tires included.

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