Deflationary pressure

Driveway miscue sends Bulmer into early re-tyrement

GED BULMER

IT WAS a dark and stormy night... No, seriously Ė a band of wild weather had thundered in over Port Phillip Bay and rolled on across the city and suburbs, filling gutters with flooding rain, felling trees and generally announcing that Melbourneís notoriously fickle winter had arrived.

I was late for dinner at the in-laws and might, perhaps, have slightly rushed my well-practiced reversing routine down our long, dog-legged driveway.

Fringed by overhanging trees and shrubs that a keener gardener would have pruned, and lined with abrasive volcanic rocks, a swift, smooth reverse down the drive is a badge of honour that I wear with pride.

Usually.

What I hadnít allowed for was the extra degree of difficulty, due to the night being as black as tar and the total lack of illumination in the driveway itself.

So, Iím whizzing backwards on a wing and a prayer, trying to patch together a picture of what lay behind, through a combination of memory, murky reversing camera and rainsplattered wing mirrors when, WHUMP!

The rear end of the Q7 kicked skywards and I instantly cursed myself for not proceeding a tad more slowly.

Within moments the Q7ís dash was illuminated with warning alerts indicating a dramatic loss of that which tyres are meant to be full of.

Donning the Drizabone, I popped the boot, not really expecting to find a full-size spare in there, but wondering: is there, perhaps, a space saver?

Instead, Audi offers Q7 owners an inflation kit neatly stowed in the space beneath the cargo floor where a spare would otherwise reside. I whipped it out and proceeded to read the fine print, before taking a closer look at the tyre. That volcanic rock is hardy stuff regurgitated from the earthís churning gizzards a gazillion years ago, so a 285/45R20 Goodyear Eagle F1 is really no match. A hole in the sidewall big enough to poke my thumb through instantly told me the natty inflation kit was all-but useless, so I cancelled dinner and called AudiCare 24-hour Roadside Assistance.

After taking a few details, the pleasant woman on the end of the line advised that sheíd send a flatbed as soon as possible.

A flatbed! Iíve blown a tyre, not a bloody head gasket! But the truck duly arrived the next morning, the Q7 was retrieved, the tyre replaced and the car returned, all within the day.

Aside from the cost of a replacement tyre, itís all covered under Audiís standard threeyear warranty with roadside assistance, which proved an efficient and relatively seamless service.

The whole thing seemed like a lot of unnecessary drama, however, and gave me pause to reconsider a planned trip to show the kids a cattlemanís hut atop a highcountry peak. I canít see Audi getting a flatbed up there if I have another puncture, so guess Iíll just stay home and prune shrubs instead.

Not-so-tough mudder

Our Q7 sports chunky 285/45R20 Goodyear Eagle F1 rear rubber, additionally specified on the sidewall as ĎSUV-4x4í. Presumably, that means theyíre tougher and more capable of handling mud, dirt and rock than your average road tyre, but theyíre still no match for volcanic rock, or clumsy driving. The cost of the Goodyear was $525 fitted, so it was an expensive evening Ö and I didnít even get dinner. With the Audi back in fine fettle Iíve vowed that a back-up plan will accompany all future selections of ĎRí.

OurGarage

AUDI Q7

Date acquired: January 2017 Price as tested: $125,545 This month: 5234km @ 10.8L/100km Overall: 8831km @ 10.6L/100km 34 3 3 WEEK 20 34 44 3 0 1 0 2 4 9 3 URBAN COUNTRY SPORTS FAMILY MOTORWAY