Welcome to Goof of the Month! Every month, we’re going to ask for stories from our network of mechanic pals which highlight the need to understand one’s vehicle, how to maintain it, and how it works. We read the submissions, check out the stories, and pick the winner, announcing the monthly Goof in our regular column about the most mechanically hopeless folks on the road today.
This month’s story came to us from mechanic Paul Kennaley of Sudbury, Ontario, who reports that his client got a nasty surprise once his truck was on the hoist in the shop.
Interestingly, the serious issue in this case had no symptoms, so there was no complaint.The Complaint: Interestingly, the serious issue in this case had no symptoms, so there was no complaint. Simply, the customer dropped his old Dodge Dakota off asking for an oil change, and for a look at a small transmission fluid leak.
The Mechanic: “This guy has been a customer of ours for years, and we know his Dakota really well. He came in asking for an oil change, and for us to check into a small transmission fluid leak. Turns out, he needed a new transmission cooler line, which isn’t a big deal. But before I start working on a vehicle, I do a full visual inspection of the underside with my light, in case there’s something wrong that the customer may not have noticed. It’s just a good practice, because most customers don’t ever look underneath their rides. In this case, I definitely found something, and ended up telling the customer that he shouldn’t leave with his truck until it had been addressed.”
The Diagnosis: The inspection with a trouble-light revealed a severely-damaged tire. A massive gouge had actually caused about 20 percent of the inner tire sidewall to be missing, exposing the carcass, or inner structure of the tire, beneath it. This severely diminishes the structural integrity of the tire, and leaves it susceptible to sudden and catastrophic failure.
“I’ve never seen a tire damaged this badly that still held air – and I have no idea how it got that gouge,” Kennaley says. “This tire was really, really bad. It could have let go at any time. Thing is, this customer frequently hauls a trailer and drives on the highway. I’d hate to think of the possibilities if the tire let go. Even a good whack on a pothole or a good bump could have ruptured it.”
The Outcome: Left unattended, this tire was a ticking time-bomb. Likely outcome? A massive and instant pressure loss and blow-out, resulting in a severe loss of control. And all of that from a problem that existed with no detected symptoms.
More on Autos.ca:Goof of the Month: You Need Brakes, Bro
Lesson Learned: So far in this monthly column, we’ve seen two major problems with some symptoms that prompted a visit to the shop. This one’s different, as it demonstrates that sometimes, your ride can have a serious safety issue you may not even be aware of. Solution? Inspect the underside of your ride and your tires regularly, even on their inner surfaces (or have a mechanic do it for you).
“Definitely bring your ride in before a road trip, or just for a check-up, even if it doesn’t need any work,” Kennaley adds. “It’s peace of mind. I can find things that could be safety issues that a customer may not even see.”
Probably, there’s nothing wrong. But maybe, a quick on-the-hoist inspection reveals something that could potentially save your life.