My friend Al reminded me that in cold weather, it’s a good idea to check car tires since the cold will contract air pressure and tires can flatten out. I did and sure enough – my front two tires were low. Really low. It was night. Cold. So I went to a gas station where they have one of those air pumps where you have to pop for 75 cents. I unscrewed the valve caps, had my air gauge at the ready and dropped 3 quarters. The machine kicked in and I applied the hose to the tire valve. Nothing happened. Everything was frozen.
Now this is not an issue that I’ve dealt with before so I went into the gas station where a lone clerk sat behind a thick glass partition. I explained the problem. “Valve’s frozen,” he said. Hoookayyy. . . “Stick the hose up your exhaust while the motor’s running and . . . . [he grabbed a lighter from the shelf and passed it under the window] warm your tire valves if they’re frozen.” “Bring back the lighter,” he said.
I went out and slid the hose a couple feet up the exhaust. And let it sit for a few minutes. And warm. I lit the lighter and warmed the tire valves. After a couple minutes, I took a breath, dropped in another 75 cents and applied the hose to the tire valve. “PFFFFTT.” It worked like a charm. Whew! The tire inflated and I brought the lighter back. I thanked the clerk (offered him a tip – he declined). “I used to drive a semi” he said. “Used to happen all the time. It’s one of those little tricks you learn.”
Now you all know the trick. 🙂