Wednesday, February 06, 2008

oakland honda has the best service department in the universe

So I just had a blowout on the Bay Bridge driving home from SFO. For those who don't know the San Francisco Bay Area pretty much the one thing you hope never happens to you is that you have a blowout on the bridge. Ever. Because, like most modern, heavily trafficked bridges, the Bay Bridge utilizes every square millimeter to accommodate cars, so there is nowhere to stop or pull off. Plus, since there wasn't any traffic yet, everyone was doing the customary "there are no cops on the bridge so how fast can we go?"

That's when the left rear tire went. Boom. As in just enough time to think "What the...?" and then WHUMP WHUMP WHUMP and bits of tire flying all over the place. Immediate decision, since I was at the downslope already, to limp off the bridge. The tire wasn't going to be patched and I'd rather have to replace a rim then be stopped in traffic on the bridge. At the bottom there is a pull out area, so coasted to a stop, waited for my heartrate to stop, and got out to survey the damage.

Amazingly -- and just now slapping head for not taking pictures -- tread was still whole and partially attached to the inner bead, but the rest of the sidewall was gone and parts of the tread torn apart. Popped the trunk and started pulling out the tools. Kudos to Honda for making the jack and spare easily accessible, which on a little car like the S2000 isn't always easy.

Well, except for the "loosen wing nut" step.

See, the spare is bolted into place, which is clever. Unless the bloody bolt was tightened by a gorilla. Sure, I'm a programmer, but I couldn't move it. This is when the swearing really started -- and let me assure you, 6 years in the Navy leaves me well equipped in the swearing department. At this point, one of the huge, orange tow trucks that patrol the bridge showed up. The driver was very nice, and after calling it in, took over.

He couldn't move the wing nut either.

Fortunately, where I had to rely on the power of profanity, he had access to a big pair of pliers. The wing nut finally admitted defeat. Changing the tire then took only a few minutes but home was too far to go on the emergency spare. Fortunately, iPhone to the rescue!

Honda of Oakland
was the closest Honda dealer, so I carefully made my way over. I was greeted by Mike, who looked at the emergency spare, looked at the shredded tire and rim sitting on the passenger seat -- it didn't fit in the trunk -- grinned and asked "so I'm guessing you need a tire?"

I was still thinking that I was hosed, since I have an international trip tomorrow, then LA for USC early next week. I was dreading all the plans that would have to change and people I would miss because of having my car in the shop, when Mike pointed at the door to the waiting area.

"We have free WiFi and we should be able to get it done in a few hours. Or, if you're hungry, there's great sushi just down the street."

So, here I am, typing away. We'll see if they really can get to it in a few hours, but this has been the best service experience I've ever had.


gofigures said...

Oh I'm so glad! I'm really happy you made it off of the bridge in one piece... I'm always afraid of changing tires next to a freeway, I'd just lock my doors and hope for the best, after some of the Bay Bridge stories I've heard. My tire guys are just tire guys, and they are awesome. Lutz Tire in San Diego. No WiFi, no cable (Judge Judy, anyone?) but they floated my flat in a tank, determined there was no leak, put it back on, had me going in half an hour and didn't charge me a penny. I LOVE those guys. Buy your tires from them and they rotate and balance for free from then on out. No sushi, but there's Jamaican across the street.

Jeska said...

Eep! I'm terrified enough crossing that bridge without a blowout. Glad you and the Honda made it out alive ;)