Spare a Scare
420th Signal Company
Georgia Army National Guard
With the end of summer fast approaching, my wife and I decided we were in need of one last vacation before the warm weather gave way to cooler autumn temperatures. The 350-mile trip would take us from Atlanta, Georgia, to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. To ensure we got the most out of our stay, I planned out everything — from beach activities we hoped to do to restaurants we wanted to try. One thing I failed to plan for, however, nearly brought our trip to an early end.
While I was spending all of my time focusing on the fun, I should have set aside a few minutes to perform some preventive maintenance checks and services (PMCS) on our car. Vehicle PMCS is especially important before embarking on a long trip. After all, no one wants their vehicle’s vital components breaking down when they’re miles from home. Besides creating a bad trip experience, it could potentially put your safety, as well as that of your family and others on the road, in jeopardy. So before any trip, it’s always a good idea to check the fluid levels (brake, transmission and oil), hoses, belts, wires, lights, tires, etc.
Unfortunately, I didn’t do that. I just assumed that since the car had been running fine everything would be OK. Wrong! About 150 miles into our trip, the right-front tire blew, causing our car to spin at least three times before coming to a stop on the side of the road. My wife and I were scared to death, but no one was injured.
After putting on the spare, I drove to the nearest tire shop. There I was told the tread on the other three tires was also below the recommended standard for safe operation. I couldn’t believe I’d been so careless. After purchasing four new tires, we continued our vacation without further incident.
We were lucky that day. A problem that took just an hour to fix could have caused thousands of dollars in damages or, even worse, people’s lives. What made the situation so disappointing was that during my drill weekend prior to this accident I had given a class on the importance of PMCS and how to use a vehicle’s technical manual. Had I followed my own instructions, my wife and I could have been spared quite a scare.
I shared this experience with my company and vowed to always conduct PMCS on both tactical and non-tactical vehicles before driving or riding. Remember, your trip will only go as far as your vehicle takes you.