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Check your spare tire mechanism periodically
Yesterday on the way to church I sensed as we turned onto the next road that we had a tire about to go flat on us. I pulled over and sure enough, there was the right front tire flat as could be. I went to the rear of the van, our '01, pulled out the jack, and proceeded to use the socket/tire-iron tool to crank the underfloor-mounted spare down. My wife was watching the progress while I cranked.
The problem became apparent when Susie said, "the cable's continuing down but the tire's not coming with it." I had some sheet plastic in the back, so with it as a working surface I lay down and slid under the van to see what was going on. While there, pulling and tugging, two bicyclists passed by and offered to help. They both looked to be past retirement age (won't be long for me; I'm 59), and the younger one offered to take a shot at trying to get the tire to drop. No success for him either though.
I ended up calling a tow truck and having the van carted over to a nearby BP station that had a garage I'd used in the past. When I talked with the mechanic this morning, he said they end up replacing a lot of crank mechanisms on spare tire mounts like this because they rust shut because of disuse and lack of lubrication. By the grace of the Lord, he was able to free mine up, but I wonder how many Chrysler minivan drivers are like me and never have reason to check the spare.
So check yours if you haven't in a long time. It might save you the trouble we had to deal with.
2001 Grand Caravan Sport 3.3L
1999 Grand Caravan SE 3.3L
1991 Honda Accord EX Wagon 5-spd 2.2L