Even air’s not free anymore

Tire air will cost you

Even air’s not free anymore


At some point we’ve all had a low tire, sometimes because tire pressure dropped in cooler weather. Thirty years ago it was pretty simple to resolve that by pulling in to a gas station, and air for your tire was free. Those full-service gas stations are now few and far between, and there’s almost no such thing as free air.

But if you need air, well, you could be looking awhile. Air is everywhere, but there’s pressure finding it pressurized, and when you do, maybe you don’t because it’s out of order.

Ah, there’s one that works. Better have quarters and move quickly.

Tericea Pena does a lot of driving, and she says, as far as air, she can:

“Remember when it was free,” Pena said.

And now that she has to pay:

“I don’t know, I don’t like to put change in the machine because it always seems to cut off whenever I still need air,” Pena stated.

So she does business with Raul Sanchez, who owns Lobo Tire and Auto Repair. He knows why, once you find it, air isn’t free. Because the air machines aren’t locally owned.

“They’re not owned by the stores no more. That’s why, if you lose your quarter, don’t complain to the store because they’re not going to give your quarter back,” Sanchez revealed.

Which is one reason why:

“I try to come to a tire shop and see if they’ll go ahead and check it. Sometimes they’ll make you pay like five dollars. A lot of times they’ll just do it. I guess it depends on how busy they are,” Pena said.

Which is kind of how Raul works it.

“So I don’t want to be mean. They say oooh, Raul ain’t gonna give me no air, I ain’t gonna buy no tire. So I try to do my best,” Sanchez said.

If you bought his tires, he’ll give you his air. If you didn’t, it might cost a few dollars.

“Customer says ‘Raul, you’re charging for air?’ I said, ‘well ma’am. If you go over there you’re going to pay up to two or three dollars. You don’t know what you’re doing. You got to get out and do it yourself, plus it’s raining. Here you’re inside a vehicle, we’re the ones getting wet,’” Raul explained.

And the race to top off four tires with a machine with no tire gauge? It didn’t go well. I only got to three tires before the two minutes of pressure ran out, although recording it with a camera in my right hand may have slowed me down.

My solution is a lighter plug tire inflator.

It’s about thirty dollars worth of quarters and you’ll probably at least break even and maybe won’t feel all..deflated.

Some convenience stores won’t give you quarters on your debit card. You have to give them cash. Of course there are now air machines that take credit cards, if you can find one.

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