"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," the old saying goes. Well, the converse is true, too. The Incorrigible was delivered with a set of aftermarket wheel covers that looked nice from fifty feet away, but didn't fit quite right. I noticed before we left Michigan that one of the rear wheel covers actually blocked the tires' valve stems, so I pulled it off. Both of the front covers were hard up against the valve stems of their respective tires, and I worried that they might damage them, but didn't bother to take them off, ‘cuz then the Incorrigible's ugly steel feet would be stickin' out.
Serves me right, perhaps, that one of those wheel covers managed to break a valve stem while I was topping up the tires at a truck stop. It crimped it and the thing twisted right off.
With the valve stem broken off, it takes an RV tire a full sixty seconds to deflate completely. This process is accompanied by an ear-splitting hiss that's audible all across the parking lot, causing people to turn and stare as they try to figure out what the idiot in the motorhome did. Lexie stuck her head out the window and asked what was going on, and I explained to her.
Unfortunately, changing a tire on a motorhome isn't anything like changing a tire on a car. Well, the mechanics are the same--it's the weights and measures that make the difference. An RV tire and wheel can weigh more than a full-grown man, and as for jacking the thing up...well, it's hard enough to get a 3000-pound car safely raised by the side of the road. When the ante is upped to almost 18,000 pounds, it's just not worth it. Large Class A diesels can easily top 40,000 pounds, so unless you're carrying a fifty-ton jack, there's not much point in even attempting to fix a flat yourself.
RV owners will debate at great length the merits of carrying a spare tire at all. Many coaches don't have them. The pro-spare people cite the difficulty that can often be had in trying to find a replacement tire in a remote location, and the security of knowing that roadside assistance can get them going right away. The folks who don't want to carry spares point out that it's a lot of additional weight that may never get used, and who cares if you have to spend a few hours (or even a day or two) waiting for a tire to be backordered? It's not like you don't have the comforts of home!
For our part, the Incorrigible had a spare tire when we purchased it, and it turned out that we needed it. End of story.
Spare or no spare, it was time to call AAA. Thankfully, our AAA RV membership includes roadside service. The investment in the auto club paid for itself in one, as they dispatched a truck to come and install the Incorrigible's spare.
Help took about an hour and a half to arrive, but this was more of an inconvenience to the Flying J truck stop whose gas pumps we were blocking than to us. We were at home, after all. Lexie surfed the Web, while I went outside and removed the rest of the silly hubcaps. The Incorrigible will just have to have ugly wheels until we can find some that fit properly. In fact, while we're at it, we ought to update the tires as well...