I was walking the dog Friday night and on our way back into the apartment I noticed one of the car’s tires looked a little squidgy. I put the dog inside and came back out to check the pressure; the little stick in the thing didn’t even pop out of the thing. You know what I’m talking about.

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The sun was setting, but the sky was still a beautiful shade of purpley-orange, so I figured I had time to change the tire. I’d get up early the next morning to get the flat fixed at a shop nearby. I cleared out the trunk and found this stuck to the inside-bottom of the floor.

What kind of nonsense is this? It’s fifteen steps of over-engineered bizzaro German torture-Ikea instruction porn. Frankly, I’m shocked that step 7.5 doesn’t involve a Rubik’s Cube and a combination lock. Where do I tell the car what my safe word is, in case things get weird with that braided steel rope in steps nine through eleven? Why do I have to assemble my own tool out of the spark plug socket and a small metal rod?

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I had so many questions.

By the time I got the tire tray out of the bottom of the car it was dark out. I packed the whole thing back up and decided to come back the next morning.

As Saturday broke over the palm trees I was an expert at BMW donut release. I had that thing out in no time only to find it rock hard, crinkly, and also flat.

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I half-carried-half-rolled it down the block to the wildest gas station in Los Angeles and got weird looks from all the Orthodox folks I passed. Back at the car, I put the flimsy jack into action & undid the lugs. But the wheel didn’t drop off the hub. It had, clearly, figured out how to defy gravity. I had a levitating tire.

Not pictured: five lugs on the ground next to me, and sore toes.

The internet told me this is actually fairly common. The things get stuck. So there I was, standing in my driveway literally kicking a tire, at 8:30 on a Saturday morning. The neighbors and their kids came outside, offering words of support. The dogs on their morning walks were very interested in me. Their owners thought I was nuts. At one point I got so desperate I took sketchy advice from a forum-goer: “one lug back on the hub, finger tight, and lower the car back down. When you hear a pop, the wheel should be free.” It didn’t really work.

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After twenty more minutes of strategically-placed kicks, the wheel popped off and bounced on the concrete.

Aha.

There’s your problem, buddy.

There you go. That’ll do it. But look at how flush the screw is! I really got that thing in there good. I’m actually a little proud of that.

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I threw the (now pressurized) donut on, took the car off the jack, and made my way over to the tire shop. No worries. Problem solved and day made: there was a 1972 Ferrari Daytona getting some new shoes there too.