Our front tires have been showing a little wear on the inner edges. Nothing serious looking, but we wouldn’t want to lose a tire in Mexico, especially since the tires are 9R22.5’s – an older tire size that’s getting harder to find. They’ve never given us a lick of trouble. They don’t even lose any air over the season.
Still, I fretted. We pulled into a tire shop in Oregon to have them looked at. Nothing symptomatic. No checking evident. “The front tires on these older coaches seem to wear funny like that. You might want to rotate them,” said the tire guy. We pushed on down the I-5.
Still, I worried. So-o-o… out of an overabundance of caution, we arranged to have the front tires replaced in Phoenix. We camped overnight in the lot at Camping World and at 8 in the morning I signed us in at the service counter.
About 2 in the afternoon we rolled out. It would be a short drive to our campground south of Tucson– and then only 20 or so miles before we reached the Mexican border at Nogales the next day.
The following morning I set to pack up, looked admiringly at my new tires, and… saw that the one on the driver’s side looked awfully squishy. I checked the pressure. 45 pounds. Significantly less than the 100 pounds I left Phoenix with and too low to drive on.
One of the other campers in the park volunteered his compressor but it was no match for the big RV tire. After a considerable spell of rattling and hissing with no resulting increase in pressure, I thanked the guy, returned his compressor, and called Good Sam. They sent the local tow truck out to pump up my tire.
With the tire back at a 100 pounds (at least for awhile) we backtracked to the Camping World at Tucson. Turns out they can’t handle tires as big as ours so they sent us to their tire people a couple of miles down the road.
There they diagnosed a bad tire valve (they were still the old originals) and ended up replacing the valves on both tires. (This should have been done in Phoenix when the new tires were installed. New valves are itemized on our original invoice.) Both tires were pumped up to spec. We were not out-of-pocket.
We camped in Tucson that night. We’d lost a day and had to backtrack but, hey, we had all winter and we discovered a great RV park in Tucson.
Next morning the driver’s side tire looked a little squishy again. The gauge registered 85 pounds. Gr-r-r!
Low, but above placard pressure. We headed south. After all, the Mexican economy runs on trucks and they have a great tire repair culture.
The air hose at the Pemex gas station in Santa Ana hissed valiantly but it wouldn’t run the pressure any higher. Oh, well. Good try. We continued on.
We reached San Carlos in the afternoon and settled in at the Totonaka RV Park. Nice location and terrific park. I was however a little distracted to really appreciate the laid back atmosphere of the resort.
In the morning, José in the office phoned the mobile tire repair truck. The poor fellow was great with car and trailer tires, but fixing the big RV ones was beyond the capabilities of his equipment. Even his compressor wouldn’t boost the tire – now deflated down into the 70’s.
My Spanish vocabulary had added some useful new words though: desenflado, bajando, and the like, but I’m still a rank beginner at the language. I scrunched my face to understand what his suggestion was.
“Go back down the highway a few kilometres. On the way north, heading out of town towards Hermosillo, is a Pemex station on your right. Just past that is a tire repair shop. Those guys work on the big trucks all the time. They’re good. They have the right equipment. They can fix your tire.”
OK, the tire’s a bit soft, but I figured a few careful kilometres should be ok. Off we went. And there it was.
The llantera, or tire shop, was not impressive looking by US or Canadian standards of industrial building design. The fellow that came out listened to my haltingly-told story, waved me closer to the front of the shop, and brought out a hefty looking bottle jack.
After a little delicate fiddling with my fancy chrome wheel covers, their impact wrench made short work of releasing the wheel. The fellow and his three buddies had the leak pinpointed, the tire off the rim, and immediately after I heard the baritone thumppity-thump of a serious compressor, the wheel reinstalled on the motorhome.
“Sucio,” he said, as he lowered and removed the jack. Dirty. The rim was dirty so the bead of the tire couldn’t seal properly. I can’t believe two professional tire shops in the US would remove and reseat a tire without checking and cleaning the rim.
Several days have now passed. We’ve driven another 150 miles south to a lovely beachfront RV park, El Mirador in Huatabampito. The tire pressure hasn’t budged. I am finally relaxed and actually appreciating and enjoying the ocean and the cool breeze coming off it. Pass the chips and salsa. And the cerveza.
If I decide I want to rotate my tires, I know where I will take it to be done.