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My Run In with the "No Flat Tires" - PAX System Michelin Energy LX4s

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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): My Run In with the "No Flat Tires" - PAX System Michelin Energy LX4s

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

My Run In with the "No Flat Tires" - PAX System Michelin Energy LX4s

It looked good on paper. It really did. When I splurged a few years ago and bought my top-of-the-line Honda Odyssey Touring Van, I think I added every gadget there was to add....including those nifty tires that never go flat. The gist is that you can get a "flat tire" but still keep driving on these babies...up to 50 MPH for something like 50 to 100 miles.

Even though I do know how to change a tire...and I can even do basic car maintenance such as changing the oil...I always had this unnatural fear of having to change a tire under pressure. Maybe it is my introverted personality and not wanting to be judged in public, but I used to really fear having to stop in traffic with a van full of young children, and in a dress or worse, looking like a slob (my neighbor takes her kid to school in a bathrobe), having to change a flat tire with everyone speeding by and no one stopping.

So, when I saw this particular option, I didn't think twice about adding it on. In fact, I think with the Odyssey I bought,these were included in the price. Well wasn't that nice....it was nice....for about two years until yesterday, when my little tire pressure monitor display (yes, it has that too), told me the air in my one tire was a little low. I dutifully filled it back up and thought that was it. The next morning...same thing. In fact, not only did the monitor say I had low air...it said I was running the "no run flat" on that side with a big exclamation point and warning about keeping under 50 MPH.

Uh oh....I had never had that warning before. Since my van does talk to me when prompted...I decided to ask it a few questions...absolutely no answer...but the dashboard was still screaming that same message. Of course the husband was out of town, and I did have to pick up the kids from school that afternoon...actually a van full, not just mine.

Since I had to get some stuff mailed, I proceeded to the post office...and then on to the pharmacy...the dry cleaner too...they were all on the way, okay?...and then finally, on to the car place. I was patting myself on the back at this point...look how great these tires are...I can get it fixed on my time and still get all my errands done...how 'bout them peaches?

Three hours and $680 later...I had my answer. After the initial shock wore off. I realized what a stupid choice these tires were. I ended up having to replace two of them. With that $680, I could have realistically bought a whole new set of four regular tires, a tow and a weekend getaway for me and my husband. Don't you hate when you make a dumb decision? You think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread,and then much later, realize how stupid you've really been?

As I humbly got back in my van and drove to go get in line to get the kids....cause I didn't have the heart or energy to do anything else...I vowed to spend more brain power on my next large purchase..whatever that may be. I was not seeing the forest because of the darn trees. You gotta look at the details and not just the big picture. You pay now or you really pay later, right?

What have you bought recently that you regretted buying? I don't care if it's a toaster or a house...let's hear it. We could all learn from each other's mistakes!

Please be sure to read my two follow up articles below:

My Odyssey with the Honda Odyssey Minivan and Michelin


Honda and Michelin Both Win the "Nightmare of the Year" Award

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You never said what the problem was with your tires.

The reason I am commenting is this:

We have a 2000 Honda Odyssey. We purchased the extended warranty since we got a "good deal". In 2005we were at a NATO AB in NW Germany.
Driving home (2.5 hrs) from Frankfurt Airport the dreaded Check Engine light came on.

I took it over to the Honda dealership in The Netherlands (English spoken by the Dutch with a smile!)
Servicing the Odyssey in Europe is a challenge since that vehicle is NOT sold in Europe.
They hooked it up to their diagnostic computer and the code they got said the catalytic converter was bad and must be changed; no easy thing for them to do as the parts must be ordered from the USA and they have to get the TO's from Honda to do the work.
Anyway...
Ever the skeptic I called Honda USA and our dealership in South Carolina to verify that info.
YES, it needs to be changed.

To top it off the vehicle just passed the 80,000 miles given in the extended warranty.

The girl I spoken to at Honda USA suggested I write a letter to Honda Corp and state the problem AND the circumstances. (Military, living in Europe etc.)

Well to make a long story short I did.
The Dutch Honda dealership did the work.

We paid IN CASH 1000 Euro (very close to $1400 - very few places like car dealerships take credit cards in The Netherlands)

We got our "tax free" forms filled out for the parts. Labor in The Netherlands does not apply to the SOFA agreement concerning VAT!(Thier tax rate is about 19 - 20%)

My husband’s Dutch sectary translated the computer printout bill from Dutch to English.

I wrote a letter explaining EVERYTHING to Honda -enclosed copies of all the paperwork.

Then forgot about it.

About 6 weeks later I went to the Post Office. We had a "thin" envelope from Honda USA.
I really thought it was going to be - "While we appreciate your situation...there's is nothing we can do at this time."

Well to my surprise it was a short letter and a check for about $1386.
(They even did the exchange for Euro to Dollars!) My husband was SHOCKED!

So if some weird thing happened to your tires or if the tires were expected to last longer or whatever the case maybe... try writing Honda... Maybe they'll have pity on you too!

Kate

January 9, 2008 at 6:52 PM  
Blogger tootie said...

I can totally relate. My husband and I just replaced the tires on both of our cars - and spent a small fortune! It definitely hurt the wallet, but it was a necessary purchase.

Don't sweat it too much. At least your tires got you safely to the car place! (And you learned what type of tires are no longer your favorite ;)

January 9, 2008 at 7:53 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife**** said...

Thank you so much for the tips and kind words. One of my tires actually had a very small hole that leaked air apparently...no chance of repair and since the other front tire was getting close to needing replacement, I sprung for both to get replaced.

Our warranty from Goodyear on these "no flat" tires had just gone two months past the point where Goodyear would've paid 50% of the replacement tire's cost..darn it. For the first two years of use, they will pay 100% if these tires go flat..even if it is your fault.

With that being said, we are going to Germany this summer with our Honda van..and yes, I am worried about warranty issues, especially since our extended warranty is thru a third party and not Honda (covers to 100k miles I think..guess I'd better go read it, thanks for the reminder).

Right now, I am trying to figure out our NAV system. Every website and documentation I read says that our NAV computer only takes the North America CD!!! What use would that be to me over there??!!

January 10, 2008 at 3:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Life Lessons,
I am not trying to be a harbinger of negative news, but from what I can tell by your blog is that you like to be prepared.
So here goes…

Warranties issued in the USA do not/did not apply in Europe.
Caveat of positive thinking: maybe your 3rd party issued warranty will be different

Our van does not have a navigation system.
Our friend’s did (Honda).
For our three years in Germany their van’s system showed them hovering off the coast of Jacksonville Florida.
That’s it.
It never moved.
One would think that somewhere somehow there would be a European map disk that would work, but no… They SEARCHED!

Buy yourself a GPS.
We bought ours at Amazon; a Garmin. It comes with North American Maps. The European Maps were extra. (Pretty pricey! We split the cost with somebody else.)
Amazon would not ship that to an APO address so we circumvented that by having it shipped to a relative and had them ship it on to us.

(Note: Germany has it’s own Amazon site http://www.amazon.de/
They will deliver to your local German address (if you live in off base and have an actual German street address) but with the exchange rate being as it is I’m not sure that would be the way to go.

We loved using the GPS.
It helped us out so much.
Needless to day we did not rely on it solely: we also followed along with maps. Doing that helped us to actually learn where we were and different ways to get there.

AAFES sells gas coupons that you can use on the Autobahn. These are accepted at a few select European gas stations in Germany. That GPS always helped us find these stations without wasting time getting on and off the Autobahn.


I’d like to tell you one more thing…
I know tires are a sore subject BUT…
Make sure your other two tires are good before you ship the van.

Ours need to be replace 5 months after we arrived.
Our AAFES was at a tiny BSB in The Netherlands. They DID NOT CARRY THE TIRES WE WANTED /NEED FOR THE VAN!

We ended up going to a Dutch tire place, and waited about a week for the guy to call around The Netherlands as he tried to find a tire LARGE enough to fit the van. (The van is SO BIG by European standards… therefore requiring BIGGER tires!)
We ended up with Michelin Synchrony tires. The four tires were about 700 EURO.

Now, everywhere we go to have the van serviced they ask us about the tires… You see the Michelin Synchrony are 4x4 tires. They work. The van runs well, but they are noisy.

We had to take them as they were our ONLY choice.

I could have kicked myself for not getting the tires changed before we left SC. (My husband was “somewhere else in the world” when we were getting ready to leave; I didn’t think about having the tires replaced and neither did he. The van was serviced and all, and at the moment the tires were fine…so the Honda dealership never said anything about replacing them.

Our sponsor was not a very helpful one, so we headed our there VERY uninformed!

I hope this little bit of info helps you out as you prepared to move.

If there’s anything else you’d like to know about life for an American living in Europe let me know.

Kate

January 10, 2008 at 8:02 PM  
Anonymous Megan@ Disorder2Order said...

I have to laugh... like a lot!

I too have the '05 Ody Van Touring and I have now had a nail in the sidewall (not repairable) and a flat.

I will tell you this...

I wouldn't change to regular tires for the world. When we had our flat we were taking over a load of boxes to our storage unit so the car was FULL and I had both kids (and my husband). It was late in the afternoon and it was about 35 degrees outside.

We were able to drive, drop off the boxes and get home all without having to stop. I took the car in to get ALL FOUR TIRES REPLACED the next day (to the tune of about $1200).

Having two kids and living in an area that rather "rural" I appreciate the assurance of being able to at least get home.

I contemplated getting regular tires and replacing the Run on Flat's but then you have to replace the rims and tires (which can be just as pricey sometimes).

I feel your pain and I agree.. what a hit to the wallet. The service manager told me that he was impressed that I was able to go as long as I did on the tires without going flat.

I will be thinking of you on your trip... hope to hear a follow up on how it goes over there with the NAVigation...

Happy Trails!

January 11, 2008 at 4:35 AM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife**** said...

Your responses have been SO informative, I could literally pee in my pants right now with glee! Seriously, I had begun to think about warranty and NAV issues, but to tell you the truth, I've been more worried about the HHG, kids and pets and finding a renter for our house...guess I really need to make sure our van has a good once over right before we leave...and thanks for the tip on the back tires...I can just see us now.

I've already called the folks who do the NAV for the Honda..no dice there. Since it's basically impossible to get lost in Germany, I'm not too worried about not having it, and like you said, we can always get a small one...my husband has one of the first Garmins made...yes, it works now...but maybe by next Xmas, I have an excuse to get him another one.

Did anyone have pets when they went over? I'm about to investigate what they need shot wise and certificate wise, etc and how long these documents are valid once you get them done at the vet, right?

January 11, 2008 at 1:42 PM  
Anonymous JHS said...

THANKS for participating in the Carnival of Family Life, hosted this week by Karen at Write from Karen!

The Carnival will be live on Monday, January 14, 2008, so be sure to stop by and peruse all the excellent submissions included this week!

Considered hosting the Carnival? Stop by Colloquium, check out the schedule and drop me a note, telling me which week you are interested in hosting!

January 12, 2008 at 10:03 PM  
Anonymous Rodney said...

In response to your pet question How soon are you PCSing?
I know that the rabies Vacc needs to be OLDER than a month! I also think your dog needs to be "chipped". FYI most bases I am familiar with in Germany have no kennel services available on base. The vet clinics on most bases may refer you to German kennels off post that can be very different than a stateside kennel.

Wow am I glad I stumbled across this blog! My wife and I were considering getting a Honda odyssey but now i think we should do a lot more research. Good luck with your PCS

January 26, 2008 at 3:41 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife**** said...

Rodney, thanks so much for your advice. It'll work out that the pets will have their vaccs months before we move and they are microchipped already. We already know our German hotel we will be staying at allows pets, so that won't be an issue either...thank God for that.

As far as the Odyssey...I think it's still the BEST out of all the minivans out there...I would just have second thoughts about getting the special tires...go with the regular ones. Everything else works just great on it and having an extended warranty thru a third party like we do (well, we've never had to use it yet) gives peace of mind...until you move overseas! That's the thing we hadn't thought about when we bought it a few years ago.

January 26, 2008 at 7:01 PM  

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