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Changing over to winter tires enough to drive a big lug nuts

This column is intended to be about achieving justice in personal injury claims. But, from time to time, I have used this platform to write about road safety topics.

So far, my editor has accommodated my detours. This is another such detour.

I’m not the handiest guy out there, but I can find my way around a screwdriver.

Yes, my wife hints with my buddies on our street to get pictures hung, furniture put together, and dimmer switches installed.

I say that’s a lack of inclination, though. I can hang a picture if I put my mind to it. Heck, I could probably get my head around a dimmer switch as well. But I’m a busy guy, and my wife seems to like things to be done quicker than it takes hell to freeze over. We’ve got two sets of wheels for our minivan and SUV, one each for summer and winter tires.

Changing those wheels over is a pain in the butt.

Taking the vehicles into a shop to do the changeover takes up a bunch of time for vehicle drop off and pick up. A ride has to be arranged. And yes, it costs a few bucks.

It was the kind of thing that I figured I should do myself.

Even though I’ve become a desk jockey, I did grow up on a farm. I can still get my hands dirty. It’s about as straight forward a manly job as can be.

Jack up the car, remove the nuts, switch the tires, replace the nuts and repeat.

I picked up one of those heavy duty jacks to avoid having to fight with the pathetic little things our vehicles came with.

I borrowed a buddy’s impact drill and I was all set.

It was like I was in a race car pit.

I had the wheels changed over in no time. And an impact drill is kind of fun, by the way. “I am such a man,” I was thinking.

But my first indication I had screwed up was when a friend of mine, Ron Smith, owner of Dynamic Westside Auto Service & Transmission, chuckled as he told me I had put the wheels on backwards.

Apparently, that’s what those directional arrows on the sides of tires are all about.

The next indication, after I fixed the goofy directional thing, was when my father-in-law told me I needed to have my alignment checked.

Sure enough, there was an odd wobbling sensation. Wobble it was.

The nuts on one of the wheels were all loose. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to check the wheels on the minivan. It turned out I had missed tightening the nuts on one of the wheels on that vehicle as well.

And were the treads still adequate? What’s the appropriate tread depth?

Not so simple.

I had endangered myself, my family and other motorists to save some time and a few bucks.

I was an idiot.

I’ve learned from my mistakes to have a torque wrench handy to ensure the nuts are properly secured, and I’ll never put my wheels on backwards again.

As for the tread, I’m going to make sure I get professional advice. I’ve told you this story because I know I’m not the only idiot out there.

Perhaps some others will learn from my mistakes, too.

It’s that time of year. As I said in last week’s column, (as a personal injury lawyer) I don’t need the extra business.

Published November 28, 2010 in the Kelowna Capital News

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