Well, I blew my first big rig tire yesterday. This was no flat tire that goes, “thump-thump-thump” like when you get a flat on a car. This sucker went “boom” and included flying rubber shrapnel.
But it also wasn’t nearly as dramatic as it could’ve been. In fact, considering it actually “blew,” it was pretty mild. And know what? That’s totally okay with me!
I was driving along on I-80 just west of the salt flats in Utah. it’s a pretty lonely (but pretty) stretch of highway. I noticed a couple chunks of something black in the road up ahead, and assumed they were chunks of another truck’s blown tire (also called ‘alligators,’ or ‘gators.’). You always try to avoid running these over because they usually have some pretty hefty sharp wire running through them. They can pop tires or fly up and cause damage to your truck or other vehicles around you. They’re dangerous.
Well, these chunks were right in my way, directly in front of my right steer tire. There was a truck behind me and I believe a car passing me, so I didn’t really have the option or time to move over a lane. I steered toward the right, just a smidge, maybe just enough to touch the white line with my right steer tire. The chunks passed underneath my steers and drives, but just about the time it would’ve passed under the trailer tires I heard a “THUD!” Just the sound – I felt nothing.
The first weird thing I noticed was that the truck behind me immediately moved into the left lane. Then I checked my passenger-side mirror, and was pretty certain that I saw a couple pieces of something black fly off onto the shoulder from our truck. I immediately threw on my four-ways and safely pulled to the side of the highway. Thankfully there wasn’t a ton of traffic, and this particular stretch of highway was pretty straight.
Adam had woken up just a little bit before this happened, so we both jumped out and walked toward the trailer tires.
Yikes. Sure enough! A giant, shredded, gaping hole in our right, front, inside trailer tire. The damage was impressive!
I pulled out our emergency triangles and got them set up while Adam got going on the phone calls. We make a damn efficient team, I tell ya! Then we just had to sit for 2 – 3 hours and wait for the tire guy to arrive and fix us up.
We played on our phones, I did some exercises (in the truck so as not to distract any passing drivers and risk being hit), I vacuumed the rugs and floor of the truck, made up my bed and enjoyed the surrounding scenery under a bluebird sky. It wasn’t so bad being forced to sit and soak that in!
Then the tire dude showed up – super-nice guy. I talked with him a bit and when I told him I hit a gator he said, “oh, those black chunks a little ways back there? I almost hit those, too.” He said he was pretty sure they were some sort of hard plastic. He guessed another truck had a blowout and those pieces were some part of their truck. So that kind of explained the violent result to our poor tire. Although, I’m sure if you hit a gator just right it would do the same thing. So anyway, I wasn’t happy that I ran something over in the road, but it was kind of reassuring to know the blowout wasn’t because I missed a weak spot on the tire during one of my inspections. We inspect those tires several times a day, so that would’ve bummed me out.
In the end, we got a new tire and were on our way. We had to skip our shower and keep moving to make our deliveries on time the next day, but all in all, not too bad of a first tire blowout experience. I was shaking, don’t get me wrong. It’s freaky. But nobody got hurt and there was no other damage done to our truck or any other vehicles. Is there a such thing as good bad luck? I dunno. That’s something to ponder.
Tonight I love clear, long, lonely stretches of cruisin’ highway.
More photos from our tire experience:
Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!