Here’s a tip that I’ve learned. Before you assume something is damaged beyond repair, try giving it a good rub first.
Let me back up a bit. Last weekend, a really wet and windy weekend, I was out having fun in a little run-around I like to take out on days like that, when I hit a pothole so deep, so well concealed, and so violently that I bit my tongue and involuntarily lifted my feet off the pedals quickly enough that I hit the steering wheel with my legs, and now they’re bruised.
As soon as I could, I pulled over to assess the damage. A big bulge and a split in the sidewall of the front right tyre, and a big ding in the alloy rim, told me the worst. I limped home and put the car in the garage.
‘I swallowed hard and did the sums. This pothole was going to cost me $2500.’
My tyre man let me down on this occasion. He usually gets me what I need pretty quickly and does a good price; this time I didn’t hear back from him, so I was left to my own devices. A couple of hours on the phone tracked down what looked like a good deal, and I booked the car in. We also discussed the damage to the rim; apparently if an alloy rim cracks or warps, it’s done for. A replacement was going to set me back $950. I swallowed hard and did the sums. This pothole was going to cost me $2500. OK, so it was my choice to replace all four tyres, but I was going to have to replace two anyway (another tip: never, ever replace just one tyre; always replace the corresponding tyre on the opposite side to the one that needs replacing).
I rolled into the forecourt on the morning of the appointment, left the car in their hands and went in search of a coffee shop. Ninety minutes later I got a call. All done: four new tyres.
I asked about the rim. Well, that big ding you could see? We rubbed it with a cloth, and it went away. It was a mark left when the tyre smashed up against the rim when it distorted on the lip of the pothole. No new rim needed.
I loved this for two reasons. One, it was $950 I didn’t need to spend. Two, they could have told me anything. They told me the truth.
A couple of days later I got a call from my tyre man – something about being away at his beach house on the coast. I didn’t know there was so much money in tyres. But he confirmed the price I’d got was “pretty good”, which I now think might mean “less than I would have charged you”.
So now I have new tyres and a new tyre man. Funny how things work out.
Oh, and by the way, I contacted the relevant council about the damage done by the pothole and was surprised to hear back from them within 36 hours. That’s because they were calling to say it was not their responsibility. I was on a state government-maintained road at the time.
I’m into a discussion with the state roads authority now but I’m told by friends that the chance of getting any joy out of a state government is approximately zero (also, tyre damage like this is not covered by insurance).
The process so far has mostly involved a number of phone calls, quite a lot of on-hold music and recorded messages, calls being cut off and, when I do get to a person, being told I need to talk to someone else (who will call be back but hasn’t).
It’s like being lowered into a dark hole on the end of a rope and being left dangling. I’ll let you know in anything comes of this, but to be honest I doubt I’ll pursue it too hard. I’m over potholes and I’ve never been very keen on spelunking.