Flat tire from wear in wheel well - call from Manitou Springs CO

I listened with amusement to the call about the man whose tires in one particular location kept going flat and showing a circular wear pattern. And laughed out loud when you said you’d never heard of wear like this causing a flat. For a long time I have thought about sending this one in as a Puzzler!

My first car was a 1958 Buick Special four door sedan. Great car with impressive fins. My grandmother had purchased the car new and drove it a lot on bad country roads as well as up and down the long dirt road that went to her house. When she bought a new car, she gave the Buick Special to my parents. Dad often drove it out into the backwoods of Florida so the car spent many more miles one dirt roads and bad country roads.

When I got the car, I used to to scout places to ride my horses, so it got even MORE miles on dirt roads. One evening as I was doing just that, I made a U-turn and the front left tire went flat. Of course, I was somewhere I was not supposed to be and the spare was bolted in so tight I could not get it loose, so I had to call my Dad to come rescue me. He gave me a hard time about being in the back woods by myself but once he got the tire off, he did not blame me for the flat.

The backstory - a few years before I “inherited” the car, the extensive country driving had taken a toll on the steering column. Every bolt holding it in place had been sheared and the steering column, though it still worked, kind of bounced around freely when going over bumps. Dad had taken the car into a local garage and the guy had replaced the bolts.

What Dad discovered when he took the flat off was that one of the bolts had been too long and had worn a circular path around the sidewall of the tire. When I turned the wheel sharply to make a U-turn, the bolt finally punched through the sidewall of the tire! Apparently the garage mechanic had run out of the proper sized bolts and used the next longer size which was just a little too long.

I’ve got another story about this same car, but I’ll try to send it in later.

Anne from Tallahassee Florida

If I recall correctly, there were semi-circular marks on the sidewall - and that means that whatever the tire is encountering, is raised up a bit off the road surface and the marks are made as the tire rolls past.

So if I were them, I would be looking at where the vehicle is parked or a trough that the vehicle is running through - something like that.

I’d like to add my thoughts about another possibility for the flat tires.
Perhaps the larger tires were the sole cause, but I think it may be possible there is another problem. The rear end may be pushing from side to side. Since I’m not too familiar with the suspension system for this particular car, I have two different answers.

  1. If this 1988 Isuzu Trooper has a coil spring rear suspension, maybe the panhard rod has a problem or is missing.
  2. If the 1988 Isuzu Trooper has a leaf spring rear suspension, the leaf springs/hangers might me broken, or the bushings are severely worn.

Check it out Ivan! Good luck!