It was about three o’clock in the afternoon as I was driving along US 319 north of Lakeland when I heard the thump-thump sound coming from the front of my car.
The thumps soon got louder and the steering wheel developed a vibration.
I slowed down from the 60-plus miles-per-hour I was driving to 40, then to 30 mph.
The steering wheel began to shake violently and I took my foot off the accelerator and started looking for a place to pull off the road.
Just as I spotted a wide enough place to pull off the front right tire exploded.
I held the car as straight as I could and then let it coast to a stop.
Once I maneuvered off the road I got out and surveyed my dilemma.
There was nothing of the tire left, only the bare rim staring back at me.
That is when my crisis started.
Anyone that has ever had to pull of the road in Central or South Florida will tell you that it is sand country and changing a tire is not an easy task.
Couple that with the bumper jack I had and you have a real mess.
I worried with the jack for an hour trying to find a way to jack the car up without the thing falling on me.
I had to jack the car up to get the rim off and then try to maneuver the spare in place.
Each time I would get it nearly in place the whole contraption would start shifting in the sand and fall off the jack.
That is an exciting thing to deal with when you are in the direction the car is trying to fall.
Yes, I was a little younger and more foolish than I am now and no, I did not have any roadside assistance insurance.
Finally, I gave up and loaded everything back in the trunk and drove down the side of the road a couple of miles with the rim and back tire in the sand and and the two wheels on the driver’s side on the pavement.
I found a place with a paved driveway and was able to change the tire.
I learned a real big lesson that day. It is hot in Central Florida on the first day of Summer and you can’t change a tire in the sand with a bumper jack.
The biggest lesson, however, is to subscribe to a roadside assistance company and let them change your tire or haul you to some place to change it.
Oh, and from a previous experience I had where I found myself with a spare tire that was flat when I needed it, I went and bought a tire to replace the one that had blown out.
It was a radial tire, and the vibration was from the tread separating, I would learn later. A warning signal, I was told, to get off the road and fix the tire.
Just a little summer driving tip for you folks headed out of town.