I had today off from work as part of the use-it-or-lose it PTO regime, and so around Noon we went to Reno to do grocery shopping at Cost Plus World Market, WinCo Foods, and finally Raley's. After loading the groceries into the minivan and getting ready to go home, I spotted a problem.
Yep, it's the third flat tire in three months. The first two were on the front tires. This time it was the right rear. But now we had a problem. The first two flats happened when the van was in front of the house. It turns out the the lug nuts that Big O installed when we had these tires installed (they talked me into it) are not the same size as the lug wrench that comes with the emergency jack. On the last two occasions, Lisa got the correct size socket (3/4 inch, which is slightly smaller than the lug wrench that came with the van) and dealt with the tire, and in both cases we meant to go get new tools and forgot to do so.
We were unable to improvise anything with the tools we were carrying, so I called AAA to ask them to come help us. They predicted at least a 45 minute wait. While we waited in the Raley's parking lot, Lisa spotted a small contractor's truck, and went over and asked if they had the right kind of tools to help. The driver helpfully brought over his power drill with a 3/4" socket on it and between him and Lisa they made short work of changing in the mini-spare. We thanked him for his help and I canceled the AAA call.
So we made our way relatively slowly over to Big O in Sparks. That mini-spare has been used about four or five times (not counting the times it was simply holding the van up while I took a flat tire to be repaired), and it is 35 years old. It has held up surprisingly well, but you're not supposed to drive more than 50 mph on it under any circumstances, and Lisa kept it slower than that.
By the time we got to Big O, it was only 30 minutes to closing. They initially asked if we could leave it overnight, but we explained that we live in Fernley and it really wasn't a good idea. To our relief, they fixed the flat, but it was going to be up to us to put it back on the minivan. However, that merely meant that we had to go do what we should have done after the first flat.
Lisa carefully drove us over to the O'Reilly Auto Parts next door to the Jiffy Lube where I have the minivan's oil changed. We went in and bought a deep 3/4" socket, a 5" extension, and a breaker bar. She removed the mini-spare and installed the repaired tires. She then wrapped up the new tools and stowed them in the compartment that holds the emergency jack and other tools. Fortunately there was sufficient room. We drove home without incident other than we're both very tired. Lisa says she'll re-torque the lug nuts tomorrow. Oh, and I'll have y'all know that the label for that photo was her idea.
We really should get a new mini-spare, but Big O doesn't sell replacements for that kind of tire and says we need to go to the Chevrolet dealer and see if they can provide a replacement mini-spare for a 1987 Astro.
We also priced getting all four tires replaced on the Astro. While there seems to be more than sufficient tread on the tires, at the current rate it does seem like the left rear tire is due to fail, although it could of course just be a coincidence.