I saw a cartoon recently with this caption: “Why does my car have to be inspected to ensure it’s good enough for use on the roads, when the roads look like this?” The picture depicted some typical Costa Rica roads, marred with rocks, holes and debris.

If you’ve been here at any time at all, there’s a good chance you’ve walked out to go somewhere and you were greeted with a flat tire. Sometimes it only needs a quick fix; other times, perhaps a new tire has to be purchased, depending on the situation.

One thing is for sure — if you experience a flat tire while driving on the road, some people will insist, “Stop right there or you’ll ruin the tire!” But if “right there” is in the middle of traffic, you create a whole new situation to contend with. So instead, it’s best to drive slowly — with your hazard lights on — to the next good, level place to pull over and safely change your tire.

The six top causes of flat tires are:

  1. Sharp objects
  2. Bad road conditions
  3. Wear and tear
  4. Valve stem leakage
  5. Improper inflation
  6. Heat

And here are four ways to try to avoid this nuisance of a situation:

  1. Check your tire pressure yourself, at least monthly, using a reliable tire gauge.
  2. Slow down more if possible on bad roads with rocks and holes or craters.
  3. Check for tire wear and tear and invest in new ones to ensure your safety.
  4. Put magnets on the front bumper to collect any metal objects like drywall screws.

Ok … “4” is a joke.

Yet, some local repair shops claim that drywall screws are the No.1 cause of tire damage. We know this from personal experience. An item that costs literally a few colones (cents) can cause vehicle damage or even a wreck — all starting with a flat tire.

In an attempt to inject a little humor in this sometimes weekly or monthly life episode, here’s a little “drywall screw conspiracy” poem:

The screw has fallen on the road ahead

How it got there, really can’t be said.

Is it a subject of intent to promote the repair shop?

Why is it not on the side or ditch, but on the top?

With all of the miles I travel and the cautions I take

That little screw will find its way, make no mistake.

I’m usually in a hurry and have to go

When my tire is flat and it clearly shows.

So I do the labor or pay an amigo crew

The problem was caused by that dang little screw.

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