So there I was, driving to work, had headed along the A327, turned out onto the A30 and accelerated up to 70mph onto the dual carraigeway, then heading down the hill towards Hartley Wintney the steering on the car starts feeling a bit odd, somewhat like it does in a strong wind, then turning off the stereo the car sounds rather odd, so I slow down, and there is still a rather odd rumbling, and the handling seems wierd. I’ve always had worries about the running of the engine not being quite right, partly as a result of what happened to my old Fiesta, and being told by the mechanic that if he’d seen the car sooner it wouldn’t have been so bad, so I initially thought that the rumbling was the engine. However having pulled over into the layby in the centre of Hartley Wintney it was pretty obvious what the problem was, a flat tyre. For some reason between the top of the hill and the bottom the tyre had spontaneously deflated!
After fiddling around for a bit, I eventually decided that rather than get myself messed up and frustrated trying to change the wheel, and considering the amount of money I’ve paid to the AA over the years and not had to call them, I’d phone them and make use of the cover. The service was pretty impressive, at the height of the morning rush they had a van to me within 25 minutes. They even sent me a text message confirming the arrival time. The AA man of course had a much better jack than the weedy one that Ford includes, so the wheel was off and the spare on the car in no time, which was then that I remembered the slight problem – the spare wheel is one of those Space Saver Spare’s…
My Focus has 15 inch wheels, a standard size, but the Focus has space for a 14 inch spare. The spare is also narrower, and inflated to a higher pressure. The AA man gave me the dire warning as to what would happen if I exceeded 50mph with the space saver spare on the car, and also wrote on the job sheet that he’d told me, I guess so that there is no chance of someone trying to get compensation if they break the wheel. Thankfully, as you can see the wheel is helpfully painted bright red so that when people get stuck behind you chugging along they know why you’re going so slow.
With regards to the flat tyre, there was no visible sign of a puncture, or anything in the tyre, the tread looked fine. The only noticable problem was that the outside bit where all the make, model and so on was written was decidedly worn.
Anyway, I was still about 50 minutes from work at normal speeds, so I decided to head straight for Micheldever Tyres to get the tyre replaced.
It took the best part of an hour to get there at a steady 40mph. Once there they took a look at the tyre, and decided it had to be replaced, which took about 20 minutes to do, and cost me Â£61. I eventually got to work about 2 hours late. Had the Focus been like my first car, or the Fiesta I could have made it to work and sorted the tyres out on my lunchbreak, as both of those had proper spare tyres. If the spare were full size, true I’d have less boot space, but then most of the time I don’t fill the boot anyway. Having the space saver spare just seems to generate more hassle. Having said that, on a Porsche there isn’t enough room for a full size tyre, so if you get a flat and have a passenger, the passenger ends up with the wheel on their lap for the journey!