Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Being snake bitten can leave you feeling flat

Nothing is impossible.
Well, a few things are. For example, my father used to say that you can’t put your elbow in your ear. But what’s the point in trying to do that? It is an exercise in futility.
In the area of more practical endeavors, let’s look at some more relevant attempts to do the undoable.
A case in point: It is not possible to keep air in the left rear tire of my car. There must be a reason for this.
When Paul Brown ran the Cleveland Browns with such great success, he had a saying that applied to impossible situations. He called it being “snake bit.” When the same thing kept going wrong, over and over, he said the team was snake bit.
In other words, if there was no logical explanation for what was happening, he attributed it to being snake bit.
I am experiencing a similar situation. At least twice a week, I put air in my left rear tire.
On Sundays, my brother is with me. In the middle of the week I am by myself. I have two air gauges. One is the old-fashioned type. You push it down on the valve stem, the little stick pops out and you get a reading of the tire pressure.
The other gauge is much fancier. It gives you a digital reading to the nearest tenth of a pound.
The two gauges present similar readings – both of them presumably accurate. The car’s handbook says to inflate the tires to 30 pounds. We always put in 34. No matter. In a couple of days, the left rear goes down to 26 or 27 pounds. I find this very annoying.
The car is not very old. I bought it brand-new four years ago at Classic Chevolet in Mentor, where the people are all super friendly.
But even they can’t keep air in the left rear tire. By the way, the car has slightly over 22,000 miles on it, so the tires are definitely not wearing out.
The service man I had always dealt with, Ken Logar, is no longer there. He has been transferred to Classic in Madison. I presume he is making many new friends there.
I am not complaining, because I now deal with Jeff Gill in the Service Department, and he is very attentive to details. He listens carefully to everything I say.
I took the car in about a week ago, even though it wasn’t due for service. I got the oil changed – and I also got the tires rotated. I told Jeff about the left rear tire, the one that was snake bit.
When they were finished, and after I had availed myself of some of the legendary Classic hospitality by reading a newspaper and eating a complimentary apple, Jeff approached me in the lounge area and told me the problem had been fixed. The cranky tire on the left rear had been moved to the left front and a different wheel was installed on the left rear.
It should be OK now, Jeff assured me. They even did a little work on the rim so it would retain the air properly.
Here’s the news: The balky tire that was moved to the left front is now holding air as it is supposed to.
But guess what? The different tire they installed in the trouble spot on the left rear, and which had not previously leaked, now leaks. Yes, it goes down to 26 or 27 pounds within two or three days.
That left rear location is definitely, in the words of Paul Brown, snake bit. There is no other explanation. You never see a snake bite while it is taking place, of course. But the left rear tire on my car, even when the tires have been rotated, is snake bit.
I have always had the greatest respect for the legendary coach of the Browns, and when he said something was snake bit, he meant it.
I don’t know what to do next. I feel helpless. I can’t keep getting the tires rotated every week. And the car is far from being old enough to trade in.
Thankfully, I have an On Star button on the steering  wheel which I can push to get a reading on the pressure in all four tires.
I guess I will keep going to my friendly Sunoco station, the only place I ever buy gasoline, and pump some of their “free air” into the snake-bit left rear tire.
There are a lot of gas stations where you have to drop in four quarters just to get a pound of air.
Thank goodness “free air” is still free in some places around here.


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