Tires 'R' Us

May 21, 2007

RAY: The idea for this puzzler was sent in by a fellow named Bill Chase.

After thirty plus years of hard work as a pipe-fitter, Joe finally retired and he and his wife Jane decided it was time to see the country. Of course, the time-honored way to see this great nation of ours, and the natural beauty of it, is to do what?

Watch it on TV, right? No, to drive it! So they hit the road. And after six months and maybe 40,000 miles, they had indeed seen some sights. And boy, were their butts sore! But one morning, after looking over their 2001 Saturn, Joe decided it was time for some new tires. So they headed for the nearest mall where there was a tire store, Tires 'R' Us.

The fellow working on the car asked Joe how many miles he had racked up on his current tires. 'Maybe 50K,' said Joe. He wasn't really sure. The repairman then complimented Joe on having done a great job rotating his tires, because they were worn down pretty evenly. 'Well, I never rotated the tires. Not ever,' said Joe.

'That's impossible!' the tire jockey snapped back. 'Front-wheel-drive cars like your Saturn always wear out the front tires much faster than the rear. In fact, usually two or three times faster if they are not rotated.'

But how could it be that in 40 or 50,000 miles Joe had not rotated the tires and yet they were all worn down evenly?

And here's a hint: While he was at the tire shop, a young fellow asked, 'Would you like an oil change while you are here?' And Joe said, 'Oh, it's not going to need that.'

RAY: The car had gone 40,000 miles and it didn't need an oil change because the engine wasn't running for those 40,000 miles, or at least for a vast majority of them.

TOM: He was going down mountains?

RAY: No, the Saturn was being towed by his RV.

TOM: Ohh.

RAY: You didn't think Joe and Jane were going to see the country in a Saturn, did you? They used it as their around-town car. So when they stopped with the RV and they wanted to go to a movie or something, they parked the RV at a campsite and took the Saturn.

TOM: Of course!

RAY: And they drive it five miles here, two miles there, three miles there, but the vast majority of those 40,000 or 50,000 miles that were on the Saturn, were put on when it wasn't being driven, but rather towed behind the RV.

TOM: All four wheels were on the ground.

RAY: All four wheels on the ground, just going around, and that's why they all wore out evenly. No stopping, no nothing. Pretty good, huh?

TOM: Excellent!

RAY: So who's our winner?

TOM: The winner this week is Nicole Brown from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and for having her answer selected at random from among all the correct answers that we got, Nicole is going to get a 26-dollar gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division at, with which Nicole can pick up an official Car Talk unmarked bill carrier.

RAY: Also known as a duffle bag, right?

TOM: Oh sure. You carry all the duffles you want. I'm using mine for unmarked bills.

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