austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

And they say it looks better when she's standing still

One of the things worth knowing how to do about cars is how to react to an under-inflated tire. Nearly all successful cars will have tires. An under-inflated tire is most often a plea for attention, and one must study the underlying issues behind the car's distress. Common problems include poor performance in school, pier pressure from trips to the Shore, and fear of squirrels. But the symptom must also be treated, and you can handle that by yourself, and you should, considering the fiasco made of trying to change the wiper blades last time. After the 25-minute spectacle culminating in failure to get the old blades off the people at the car parts place are still talking about your performance, and they hope you need new blades soon, and don't decide to simply buy a new car rather than deal with that again.

Before doing anything about an under-inflated tire check that there is an under-inflated tire to do anything about. If there is not one, then you can declare you've dealt with the problem successfully and no one can say you didn't. But if there is one, you have to use a different tire as an example of having successfully dealt with an under-inflated tire. A tire probably lacks enough pressure if:

  • A thumb pressed against the tire falls in up to your shoulder. (This assumes it's your thumb.)
  • When placed in a vacuum chamber the tire does not increase in volume.
  • More than three-quarters of the circumference of the tire is simultaneously pressed against the flat road surface.
  • The pop-up temperature indicator is extended and waving a flag which reads ``AIR''.

If one or more of these conditions exist bring the car with the tire to a facility with air-pump technologies, such as a gas station. Be sure to wait for the coldest day there has ever been, as the nozzle will be made of superconductive metal and you will have to work without gloves or a safety net. If it is a pleasant or warm day you can be confident that the tire doesn't need any air; at most it might need some motivation.

The operation is simple: from the base station extend the hose long enough to reach the tire. Remove the nozzle cap from the tire. Put the end of the air pump on the nozzle, and watch it fall off. Put the end of the air pump on the nozzle again, giving it half a twist clockwise, and watch it fall off again. Try again, this time with half a twist counter-clockwise, which will cause it to fall off. Holding your hand as still as possible while the wind picks up and frozen rain falls, gently squeeze the handle and trust that some air will get in. Now discover you have to push an unmarked button on the air pump. While you press it the hose will retract to the base station, and trigger some lock that refuses to let the hose extend again until the pump has stopped pumping.

Pull the hose out as far as it will go and press whatever started the pump last time, and then press other buttons until it finally does start. With the end of the air pump again near the nozzle remember that it's very dangerous to over-inflate a tire. You have no way to know how inflated it is, and you will not know the tire is over-inflated until it actually explodes, so stop when you feel like you've done enough. Take the nozzle cap out of your pocket while dropping your keys, 64 cents, and a green half-size Post-It note into the driving rain. Recover the keys and 60 cents (with more pennies than you dropped), but the ink on the Post-it note will be smeared into a paper chromatography experiment, and the nozzle cap will be gone. Now the hose will no longer retract, so pile it up near the base station and drive briskly away while pretending to not notice the delighted looks of the mechanically competent people waiting behind you.

Trivia: The first British patent for an umbrella was taken out in 1786. Source: The Invention of Clouds, Richard Hamblyn.

Currently Reading: How The Irish Saved Civilization, Thomas Cahill.

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