2009 Dodge Ram 1500: A Nefarious Prick
May 12, 2010
What the what? Why, that's a spare tire on our longterm 2009 Dodge Ram 1500!
It's a long story, filled with intrigue and scofflaws. And I'm going to share it with you.
Okay, I'm lying about the intrigue.But not the scofflaws.
Picture it. Thunderhill Raceway, Willows, CA. May 2010. The Ram is my tow vehicle. The TPMS light flicks on during the drive back to the hotel after the first day of a two day race. I hit the driver's front tire with some air the next morning on my way back to the track a few miles away. There's a tire service in the paddock, so I'll have 'em fix whatever's ailing it.
Sure enough, I find a nail. Dead center of the tread. Easy plug job. Tire service plugs it for $20. Done deal.
Not done deal. TPMS lights up again on the way to our Sacramento stopover after the race. Tire service guy is a tool. Can't even get a simple patch job done correctly. I pull off the freeway and hit it with some air. I'll deal with it proper-like in the morning.
Next morning, sure enough, the TPMS light's back on.I decide that towing any distance with a plugged tire that's losing air isn't a smart idea. If the failing plug lets go all at once, I'll cause a wreck that'll take out the tri-state area.
Time to suck it up and just throw the spare on. This thing's a truck. It's got a full size, real-deal spare.
No, it doesn't. It has a temporary use spare. Crap. No way I'm towing 8 hours back to LA on a speed- and distance-restricted donut. Gotta get the plugged tire fixed.
Conveniently, the stock tires are Goodyears, and the local Goodyear tire shop is not far from where I installed the spare. Inconveniently, they don't have the equipment to deal with 20 inch wheels, so they don't sell the associated tires. Guess what the Ram has?
Still, they can at least diagnose the leak. They inflate the leaky tire to 60 psi and slather soapy water over the plug. It's not leaking there. Guess the paddock tire guy wasn't a tool after all. Hmm. Out back the tire goes, to be immersed in a water tub to locate the real leak.
Hardly visible with the naked eye, the sourceof the leak is revealed -- a tiny pinprick dead smack in the center of the sidewall. It's an unusual place fora puncture, but not unheard of.
At least, that's what I thought until I remembered that my teammate's street car also experienced a flat tire. At the track. Because of a puncture. In the driver's front tire. Due toa tiny pinprick dead smack in the center of the sidewall.
Turns out, the Willows police department receivedseveral reports of sidewall punctures from patrons of the hotel at which we stayed during the race. Track-related vehicles -- and that includes trucks serving as support vehicles -- were apparently targeted.
Up the road, America's Tire sold us a replacementtire, a BFGoodrich Long Trail T/A Tour tire since they didn't have the exact stock tire on hand. Beggars can't be choosers. Total bill out the door: $216.85.
As for the Ram, the scissor jack is prettyfiddly -- it won't sitflat on the pavement, so when you try to crankit up with the sixty feet of extension rods, it flops aroundlike a fish on dry land. The spare weighsa thousand tons, too.
Still, no awl-wielding ass clown can deflate my affection for the Ram as a tow vehicle. I'm really going to miss it when it leaves.
Trip distance: 1,125.7 miles
Fuel economy while towing: 12.2 mpg
Peak oil temp observed while towing over the Grapevine again: 235 degrees F
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 28,945 miles.