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Air is free

June 17, 2015
By Larry DeHays , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Many mechanic shops no longer do tire repairs. The main reason is because late model cars now come with some pretty fancy wheels, and those wheels require some pretty expensive equipment to mount and dismount tires without damaging those wheels.

A shop has to have that ability before even plugging tires because if the plug fails, and they sometimes do, the car will be disabled until the tire can be dismounted from the rim to patch it, and if the tire is ruined, which sometimes happens, a new tire has to be installed. So tire repair is best left to tire dealers. The equipment and inventory requires lots of floor space, which many shops don't wish to give up, preferring instead to specialize in other areas. They almost all do, however, keep their compressed air systems, for use with power tools and the occasional tire top-off. The electrically driven compressor systems are a fairly large investment, but a necessity to be in the business, and the public has come to expect certain services.

For instance:

n A car was dropped off at night with the key in the key-drop box. No information was given on the key-drop envelope about name, car identification or problem being experienced. Only a phone number was written on the envelope. After all of the other cars on the property had received their keys, we could then identify which car the mystery keys fit. A search for the license number in our data-base showed that we had no history with the vehicle. When we called the number on the envelope, the lady who answered seemed sure of the problem. "There's a red light flashing on the dashboard."

"What does the light indicate, or say?," we asked

"I don't know," she replied.

We went to the car and started it up. No red light was flashing. A steady light was on indicating low pressure in a tire. We called her back. "It's only when you have the parking brake on that it happens," said she. We checked again, and she was correct. We checked her owner's manual and confirmed that was the way it was supposed to work. We called back again. Her husband answered.

"No, that isn't the problem at all. The problem is three lights that come on when you go over 10 miles per hour."

"Which lights are they?," we asked.

"I don't know," was his reply. "One of them is an upside down horseshoe."

We went back to the car. We noted that the low tire indicator is a cross-section of a tire, with the tread on the bottom, so it could be imagined as a horseshoe with the opening at the top. The left rear tire was low, so we filled it and the light went out. The other two mystery lights did not come on through several test drives. That put the car squarely in the category we call, "The dentist syndrome," when the symptom (toothache) goes away when you get to the dentist's office. We called them again.

"So if there's no problem with the car I guess we'll come and pick it up. Do we owe you anything for pumping up the tire?"

"Of course not. Everybody knows air is free."



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