I’d taken delivery of a sparkling new Mercedes A45 AMG just three days earlier, and until then I’d been revelling in the joys of new car ownership.
Working out what all the buttons do, enjoying the smell that a new car gives off and bonding with the thing generally.
And then, crunch, turning right out of a side road I could feel that I’d run over something weird; something that was so small I didn’t see it coming, but which was also sharp enough to make the front right tyre sound like I’d just inserted a massive blakey into it, hence the tell-tale 'tic, tic, tic' I could hear from then on.
So I pulled over, wound on full left lock and rolled the A45 gently forwards in neutral, and sure enough there it was, a great big screw head staring back at me. “Oh bugger,” I thought, and as Paul Whitehouse might say. And then I headed straight to the nearest Kwik Fit, which just so happened to be not very far up the road at all.
The screw was a pretty big one, but I’ve never yet known a puncture like this to be un-fixable. As long as it’s in the treads they can usually insert a small plug into the hole and then seal it with adhesive.
The Kwik Fit man agreed that it was indeed a big one, but he also agreed that it could almost certainly be fixed. So he whipped the tyre off its rim – and promptly discovered a tiny but deep slash on the inside shoulder of the A45’s otherwise brand new 235/40 ZR 18 Continental. Unfortunately this had ruptured the tyre’s core, which meant that it couldn't be fixed.
As for the nail damage, this would have been no problem whatsoever to sort, but it was also irrelevant because the slash damage was too severe. Which meant that I had a right old dilemma on my hands.
Understandably the Kwik Fit man said he couldn’t let me go with the slash damage in situ because, even though it was tiny, he wasn’t legally allowed to refit a tyre whose core was damaged, albeit fractionally. There was also no spare tyre fitted to the car, and this particular kind of damage was well beyond the repair kit anyway.
As you may know I have one or two contacts in the tyre industry, and if I’d known what was going to happen, well, I could perhaps have called one up and maybe got some kind of a discount on a new 235/40 ZR18 tyre. And even if not, then at the very least I could, if I’d known, have done half an hour’s worth of research on the internet and sourced a replacement Continental at well below the recommended retail price.
But right there and then, and with somewhere important to be 10 minutes ago, all that was irrelevant. So through gritted teeth I said “Yes” to the Kwik fit man, handed over £275 and, 10 minutes later, was on my way again, staring at the road ahead for evidence of fresh nails on it, a bit like a kitten stares at the leaf it’s about to pounce upon.
Tyres, sometimes they’re not just round and black.