How Rainwater Causes Flat Tires

January 4, 2011

The report of an increase in tire repair activity in Lake Havasu City, Arizona confirmed a trend concerning flat tires that has been noticed for many years. It is that tire repair business increases following rain storms.

This story is also an example of the information highway’s ability to track nearly every human activity. Be that as it may, this was from Today’s News- Herald (serving “the lower Colorado river area”). The article recounted the bump in tire repair business that the area’s repair facilities experience in the aftermath of a storm.

Now, as anyone who has repaired tires will attest, roofers are the tire guy’s best friend. A shingle removal operation will send roofing nails every which way. The threat to tires is so bad that reputable roofers will have an employee police the area with a powerful magnet attached to long handle. The tool looks like the roller used when seeding a lawn except smaller in diameter. This is usually the last step of the job.

After roofers, it has to be the weatherman who is best able to increase tire repair business. The News-Herald article dealt with the hazards of jagged rocks being washed into the roadway by powerful storms. One shop manager described the shards of rock as being “almost like arrowheads”. Another wisely advised motorists not to drive on flat tires as they would most likely have to replace them after just a short distance of driving while flat.

The ability of a storm to move foreign objects into the roadway is not confined to rural environments. The process is the same, it’s just the debris that is different on city streets. Over the years, keys, pieces of hand tools and every type of fastener known to man have found their way into tires. It is not unusual for screws and nails to enter the tire head first.

Is there any way to avoid this? I don’t think it is possible at the individual level, since no one is responsible for what ends up at the side of the roadway and then is washed into the travel lane by storm water. More frequent street sweeping may be an answer in urban areas.

This reminds me of the habit politicians have which is to order street cleaning prior to an election in an effort to impress voters. But limiting your driving to election years would be a bit extreme, don’t you think?

[Havasu News]

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