Obituary notice The flyer proclaims: ``Thumper Is Dead!''
The Tire Retread Information Bureau (TRIB) recently received that clever handout from Jim Showalter of Premier Bandag pointing up the need for tire service people—and their customers—to use tire gauges to check inflation pressure (and help save tires and lives).
Alongside a tombstone bearing R.I.P. and a caricature of a rabbit, a pseudo-news story in ``The Daily Gazette'' reports ``Thumper, well-known tire service man, was killed recently by a tire blowout caused from under-inflated tire damage. It's hoped that others will not follow his example....''
It goes on to advise dealers that, ``if you reduce your customers' tire problems, you win,'' then warns: ``Improper inflation kills tires'' (not to mention people).
Poor Thumper. Hare today, gone tomorrow (sorry).
Unlimited treadwear warranty?
In his recent ``Your Wheels'' column in the Los Angeles Times business section, Ralph Vartabedian wondered how many miles someone can expect to drive on a set of tires.
Without naming the manufacturer, he noted he's logged 127,000 miles thus far on his vehicle's original tires, which has him concerned that perhaps there's something ``inherently dangerous about continuing to use tires after so many thousands of miles—even if there is adequate tread.''
He went on to explain that, ``assuming you have enough tread,'' plenty can go wrong with a tire. Stuff like cracks in the sidewall rubber, tire belt separations, leaking tire beads. You know the routine.
Still, he chalked up his tires' longevity to ``mostly luck,'' saying they're ``relatively big for my vehicle, so they don't wear as fast. I obviously don't burn rubber on my starts. And I occasionally check my pressure, but I'm not religious about it.'' He said he's shooting for 130,000 miles.
Sheesh. Could tire makers just be getting too good for their own good? More tires like that and dealers might as well find another line of work. Plumbing seems to be a pretty lucrative pastime.
This 'n that
Almost too cute for words: As Goodyear's new ``Gemini Automotive Care'' service format rolls out to replace dealer- and company-owned Certified Auto Service outlets, some promotional clips may make it onto the airwaves for the September consumer launch.
Some feature humorous ``takin' it to the streets'' interviews with New Yawkers (that is, ``I Love'' New York City motorists) who are asked what they think of their vehicles, and whether they have special pet names for them.
For instance, how do ``Bunny,'' ``Baby,'' ``The Beast'' and ``The Big Green Monster'' grab you?
From personal experience we can add: ``Money Pit,'' ``Rust Bucket'' and ``My Mechanic's Next Boat Payment.''
The cost of a good education: ``Life is good. We put two kids through Harvard—our plumber's kids.'' (From a bit on Garrison Keillor's ``A Prairie Home Companion.'')
Bumper stickers: ``Honk if you've never seen an Uzi fired from a car window.''
``If you can read this, please flip me back over'' (seen upside down on a jeep).
``Warning: Driver only carries $20 in ammunition.''
``If you lived in your car, you'd be home by now.''
Stats—Noodle on this statistic (especially if your tire repair business isn't what you think it should be): A report from Myers Tire Supply said estimates show ``tire punctures in the U.S. occur at a rate of about seven per second, or 221 million flat tires per year.''
So that ever-present hissing sound you hear is not your imagination.
Weight watchers: In case you need convincing, we ran across some info about how hard a job driving really is. It supposedly burns, on average, about 140 calories an hour.
If you're looking to shave a few pounds, why not try a real long road trip. Or you could continue to burn calories simply by breathing and/or reading Tire Business. Actually, do both since we like our readers to be breathing.
Road trip extraordinaire
Imagine the calories automotive journalists Sue Mead and Tara Baukus Mello burned off during their recent 3,300-mile jaunt from Manhattan to San Francisco on Michelin North America-made MXV4 zero pressure radials.
Their seven-day road trip marked the 90th anniversary of the 1909 excursion of Alice Huyler Ramsey, the first woman—and, back then, only the third person—to drive across the U.S. The journalistic duo started off in a 1908 Maxwell (Michelin makes a run-flat for the Max?), but did the majority of the journey in a more comfey 2000 MY Mercedes S-Class.
Ms. Ramsey, her best friend and two sisters-in-law did the feat in 59 days on four-inch-wide tires. They encountered a slew of obstacles along the way, such as multiple flat tires, broken axles, and a sheriff's posse suspecting her of murder. (Sounds like fodder for a made-for-TV movie.)
Michelin's press release on the adventure—billed as ``Coast to Coast: Past to Future''—didn't explain the murder reference. But at one point it did erroneously refer to the event as ``Coast to Cost,'' which may be stretching it a bit, judging from how pricey run-flats tend to be.