A Cautionary Physics Tale (Or Why My Tire Exploded)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Look, it's a post that isn't part of The Thankful Project! Don't worry, that will be along later. YES, it's a two-post day. Two post-Tuesday! (This will not be adopted into a running feature because everyone knows I could never keep up with that). Whew. Life has been kicking my butt lately! Just as the semester is picking up and I need to really slam my nose into the grindstone, work also picks up and everyone wants my attention. I guess I shouldn't complain, since it means that I'm a necessary part of this operation here, but man, could everything just pause for about... 27 seconds? That'd be awesome.

Tomorrow, I am taking off to get my tires replaced because on Sunday, I had a mishap in which one of mine disintegrated. This is a lesson in both physics and why it's important to always fill one's tires to the proper inflation pressure. For you scientists out there, it's a real-life application of pV=nRT, which happens to be one of my favorite equations. (I also love Henderson-Hasselbalch, haha... and yes, I have favorite equations. Stop judging me.) My front right tire had been losing air, but I was nursing it along until the valve effectively died. It had enough air in it to be functional, but not optimally so, and so I was planning on getting it taken care of this coming weekend. 

Life had other plans. 

I drove up to the King of Prussia mall, where I failed at returning the 4 pairs of jeans that don't fit to the only Levi's store in a 100 mile radius because apparently, when one orders things online via Paypal, even if you pay with your credit card, you can't return that merchandise to the store. So, I crankily got back into my car to drive BACK home with my useless pants and got onto the highway. My car felt like it was pulling to the right slightly, so I made the decision to find a gas station ASAP to put more air in the tire. 

Life, again, had other plans.

As I got off of the highway and onto a another highway that I thought would take me towards civilization, my car began to shake uncontrollably and I realized that I was not going to be able to drive it anymore. I pulled over the side of 476 South and got out to inspect the carnage. This is what I found:

Yikes.
That pile of black dust under the tire? Where my tire disintegrated. No wonder my car didn't want to drive anywhere. It also smelled horribly of burning rubber. Why did this happen? Because my tire wasn't properly inflated, the temperature rose (see pV=nRT) and the tire overheated. Tires are only rated to a particular speed/temperature, at which point, they literally fall apart. So that's why physics and chemistry are important, kids!

I got back into my car and called USAA to get the roadside assistance folks to come rescue me. Even though I am 100% able to change a tire, I have horrible anxiety about not getting the lug nuts off, or more importantly, not getting them back on correctly and having my spare come flying off while I'm driving. Also, tires are heavy and I'd probably hurt myself. Also also, roadside assistance is included in my insurance, so I might as well use it and not get dirty or crushed under my vehicle while attempting to use the jack. So, USAA dispatched a towing company to come put my spare on and they were scheduled to be there at 2:35. At 2:20, they called and said that the company had canceled (what the actual?) and that they were dispatching another company that was scheduled to arrive at 3:07. 

Life, apparently, still had other plans.

At 3:15, no one had arrived and I called USAA back to check up. Apparently, there was a car fire/accident on the highway near the exit where I was located and the tow company couldn't get to me. They would be on their way "shortly". At 3:45, I was still sitting in my car on the side of the highway and no one was in sight. I called USAA again, they told me (again) that he was on his way. At 4:15 (!!!) someone arrived and apologized profusely because the guy who was supposed to be there at 3:07 had apparently left work early and didn't tell anyone, so no one knew that I was sitting there waiting to be rescued. The gentleman who put my spare on was super nice and made sure I had enough air in the spare before he sent me on my way. The entire ordeal was made worse by the fact that I hadn't eaten all day (I had been on my way to grab food when my tire exploded) and I had a headache that was making me feel like someone was stabbing me in the eye socket with an ice pick. I got home and basically collapsed into a pile.

What a day. Of course, my wonderful husband had dusted and vacuumed the house and started dinner, so that made life a lot better. And a shower, some Aleve and Excedrin, and my couch also made life a lot better. In the end, no one was hurt and I needed new tires anyway... I would have just preferred to have that occur on my schedule and in less of an, "OH MY GOD, MY CAR IS CAREENING OFF THE SIDE OF THE ROAD!" kind of fashion. So that was Sunday.

And that's why I'm taking tomorrow off. I'm seeing my osteopathic manipulation doctor at 9, and then I'm getting my car to the shop where I will probably sit for half of my natural life waiting for it to be done. At least I'll get some studying done? The rest of week holds teaching piano lessons on Wednesday night, a quiz in histology on Thursday, and class on Friday night. This weekend, Ken is going to Indiana to visit his sister and his mom, so I am a bachelorette. Friday night after class, I have plans to go out with some girls from my immunology and microbiology classes, then Saturday is lab, followed by potential lunch with Colleen of Constantly Quixotic, then spending the evening by myself, probably studying, working on papers, and generally trying to get my life together before the end of the semester wave of insanity begins. Then Sunday, I will hopefully be seeing another friend for pie and Philadelphia adventures... and then it's back to the grind.

Anyway, let this be a reminder to all of you to check your tire pressure. If you don't know how, I'll teach you. If I'm not nearby to you and you don't know how... ask your mom/dad/brother/sister/random stranger at the gas station. They'll show you how. Or Google it. I'm sure there's a hundred videos on how to check and inflate your tires on YouTube. The magic of the internet!

On that note, see you all later for Day 5 of The Thankful Project! Go check your tire pressures!

- A

1 comment:

  1. This would have had me so worried - well done for waiting so long and getting through the ordeal (and to your Hubs for looking after you when you got home)!

    Molly

    ReplyDelete

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